5 Core Exercises That Tone Your Entire Body
By Frances Largeman-Roth, RD
For the past three weeks I've been doing intense hour-long training sessions at High Performance Gym to repair my baby-busted abs. I figured if it was good enough for Matt Damon and Drea de Matteo's hot bods, it was good enough for me.
Deemsy has been taking me through my paces, helping me work my abs from a 360-degree perspective, not just from the belly. After our workouts I find that not only are my abs sore, but other muscles, including my lats and my hamstrings, are also getting worked.
The trainers at High Performance put a lot of focus on using your own body weight to build strength and endurance. I hadn't done unassisted pull-ups for about 12 years. However, I've now built up enough strength to drag my body up to the bar at least a few times. It's a good feeling.
Other core-stabilizing moves I've been doing (work up to 2-3 sets of 15 reps):
Hi-Lows: Starting from a plank position with your forearms on the floor, you first straighten one arm into a push-up position and then the other. Then you move back down to the low plank while trying to keep your hips stable. Once you've mastered this, you can upgrade the high position to a step.
Side Plank With Row: Calling on your obliques, side planks are tough enough. But when you add a row to the workout, it throws off your balance, causing you to recruit those stabilizers in your core and back even more.
Plank With Row: Similar torture to above, but starting from a traditional horizontal plank. If you don't have a friend to work out with who can hold your resistance band (a towel can work too), you can tie it around a piece of training equipment at the gym or a heavy table at home.
Push-up With Lateral Arm Raise: With weights in hand, start from a plank position and do a push-up. Then turn to your right side, raising your right hand above your head (with right arm straight), turning your body to the right as well. Return weight to the floor, do another push-up, and repeat on the left side.
Chest Press on Ball: With a weight in each hand, center your shoulder blades on top of a stability ball (bend knees at a right angle). You can press both arms up at once, meeting in the middle, or really challenge your balance by alternating pressing the right and left arms up individually.
Ropes Gone Wild
Each week I've really looked forward to training, but I can't say that every move was brand new to me. Since I've been working out for about 20 years (yikes!), novelty doesn't come easily. But then Deemsy introduced me to Ropes Gone Wild.
At first I thought the thick black rope on the floor had something to do with Zulu, the resident Doberman, but then I realized it would be part of my workout. Much thicker and heavier than any rock climbing rope I've ever seen, but made of similarly strong nylon fibers, this thing was serious.
If you've ever wondered why firemen, professional sailboat racers, and even rodeo cowgirls and boys are in such great shape, it's from coiling heavy ropes, or hoses in the case of those firemen (probably also why whole calendars are devoted to these men).
You can challenge yourself in countless ways with a rope from Ropes Gone Wild. Deemsy showed me how to do a whipping movement with one, which creates waves of motion in the rope, and extreme fatigue in your arms. You can also move the rope from side to side, in circles, and then progress to doing lunges while still maintaining movement in the rope. I only used it for about five minutes before my heart rate was elevated and I was dripping with sweat.
You too can heave and thrash your way to fitness with your own python-like rope, but it's not cheap - 40-foot rope costs $199.95, plus $30 shipping. Still, if you have a sturdy tree in the backyard or something else secure to tie the rope to, it can offer up hours (Who am I kidding? You'll last 15 minutes at most.) of seriously fun fitness, and it's definitely cheaper than a gym membership.