Working the "core" is probably something that you've heard on TV, in the office, or in some area of the fitness world. Basically, core strength involves strengthening your abdominal muscles, your back muscles and your hip muscles.
Core strength is important because core stabilization is required to perform many exercises, including many of the ones in this routine. Strong core muscles can also help reduce or prevent back pain. There are many different exercises that work the abdominal and back muscles, but the first one that I want you to know is the Pilates Crunch.
To perform the Pilates crunch all you will need is a floor mat or carpeted area.
Sit on the floor mat with only your heels on the ground and your knees bent. Place your hands in front of you, with your fingertips crossing each other and your arms fully extended.
Slowly lean back with a controlled movement as far as you can go. Do not be frustrated if you cannot control yourself when leaning fully back.
If you can only lean back a few inches without losing control, that's okay. Come back as far as you can while maintaining control. Once you reach that point, move your upper body forward and return back to the starting position.
Be sure to keep all Pilates Crunch movements slow. Try your best to progress by leaning back further each time until you can fully control yourself. Always remember to keep your heels on the ground and don't cheat by lifting your feet off the ground.
Your goal is to perform three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of Pilates Crunches.
When performing the Pilates Crunch, you can make this exercise more difficult by moving your feet closer to your glutes, or buttocks. You can make this exercise easier by moving your feet away from your glutes or buttocks to the point where your legs are almost straight. I recommend this position for most beginners.
Always perform this exercise slowly. When coming up do not use momentum to bring yourself back up to the starting position.
Work toward performing 3 sets of the Pilates Crunch, with 8-12 repetitions per set.