4 AT-HOME EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BACK + CORE
There are many reasons people sign up to the CORE+ way of life, from improving overall fitness, to rehabilitating after an injury, to loving the balance of high-energy classes and low-impact mindfulness. However one of the biggest reasons people join is due to being chained to a desk Monday to Friday without regular exercise and stretching, and being couch-bound come the weekend. This is a sign you’re dealing with weak back and core muscles… which is where Pilates and yoga come in.
Pilates and yoga are both known around the world for their back- and core-strengthening abilities. In fact, CORE+ Port Melbourne’s Ben Lewski launched his own CORE+ studio because of the incredible results he saw from Pilates after a back injury!
If you suffer from a weak back and core, this could be the answer for you. Before you hit the reformer though, try this at-home back and core strengthening series that will prepare your body for what’s to come. In addition to this, you should try to complete this series daily to really start strengthening the muscles. Before bed or as soon as you wake up is a great start!
Over time, with regular strengthening exercises and a consistent Pilates schedule, you’ll not only be free from pain, but free from the confines of your couch too.
As with all exercise, technique is key. Start on all fours, ensuring your arms are positioned directly under your shoulders, your knees are directly under your hips, and your spine is in neutral position. Activate your core, which will help your balance. Slowly reach your right hand straight out in front of you, while stretching the opposite leg straight out behind you (make sure your foot is flexed). Hold for five seconds, then return back to the original all-fours position. Repeat on the other side. You will notice one side is much easier than the other! Do 10-15 reps on each side, always ensuring your back remains in neutral position and your core is locked on.
As the name suggests, this exercise mimics Superman flying through the sky, but it’s not as easy as it looks – especially if you have weak back muscles. Start by lying face down on a mat with your arms reached out straight in front of you and your neck in a neutral position. Activate your core and simultaneously lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor, making sure your neck keeps the same alignment and follows your arms up. Your back will arch and your body will form a banana-like (or Superman!) shape; hold this for two to five seconds before returning to the start position. Repeat the same movement for three sets of 12 to build lower back strength, prevent back pain and improve posture.
It’s no secret we love a hip bridge at CORE+. This is one of our favourite exercises to do at home to strengthen the back muscles, prepare the body for exercise and work on the glutes. The best part? As you practice the hip bridge each day, you’ll slowly start to notice your flexibility and strength improve, which is extremely motivating! Start lying on your back with your arms by your side, knees bent and feet flat on the floor directly under your knees. Activate your core and squeeze your glutes, then raise your hips until there’s a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for 20 seconds (or as long as you can while you’re learning). Be careful on the return; roll down from your shoulders to your hips, feeling each vertebrae touch the mat.
The plank is another much-loved exercise that builds strength in your back and core, but requires perfect technique to avoid strain or injury. Start by lying face down on a mat with your toes tucked under and your forearms on either side of you on the ground. Slowly raise your body so form a straight plank, ensuring your core muscles are braced to protect your back, and your hips are in line with your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds before returning to the floor, and repeat five times. Challenge yourself by holding longer and longer each time, but be wary: as soon as your hips start to dip or or core softens, it’s time to come down.
Got your own personal pre-class routine to prepare your body and improve your back? Share it with us via the CORE+ Facebook page!