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Eduardo Sverdlin Lisker
To perform a Russian Twist, keep your torso straight and tuck in your legs. Then, twist your torso until one hand touches the floor and repeat to the other side. This exercise can be performed with or without a medicine ball. More photos of different moves are in the PDF of this issue.
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Now that you have some good reasons to get your core in gear, here’s a work out for you! These circuits only take about 5-8 minutes, and you can do them at home! I like to do core and stretch every night right before I go to sleep.

These circuits are only as hard as you make them:

If you don’t have much practice with your core, start small. Try to do 5–10 reps or at least 20 seconds of an exercise. If you can’t do one of the moves at all, it’s okay to skip it and do more of another until you are stronger. As my trainer Mike said, you want to feel like “steel wrapped in cotton” as you do these moves. By that, he means you want to be strong and poised, moving smoothly and under control. Don’t flail! In every move, your tummy muscles should be pulled in tight, or “engaged.”

A good workout will “burn” or make your muscles sore, but it should never hurt. So if something feels wrong, stop immediately and see one of the athletic trainers for advice (they live in the Z-Center). If you have any questions about how to do the moves or alternatives, shoot me an email at freshstart@tech.mit.edu and I’ll try to help out.

Hungry for more core? Try out some of the group exercise classes in Pilates and Yoga offered by DAPER physical education or the Z-Center. These longer workouts will complement your daily routine and offer a break from your usual routine.

Disclaimer: I may be a premed, but I’m not a doctor yet! The core of this article (ha-hah!) is based on things I’ve learned from the MIT Women’s Lacrosse Coaches, strength trainers, athletic trainers, and physical therapists. You should always check with a doctor before starting a new fitness regimen and consult an athletic trainer if you’re unsure about how to exercise safely. Be healthy, train healthy!

Circuit 1

Plank

(back, abdominals, obliques, gluteals)

Start on your tummy. Move to pushup position, but place your forearms flat on the ground. Keep your arms and hands shoulder-width apart.

Side plank

(obliques, hips)

Start on your side. Put your weight on your forearm and push yourself up. Your legs and torso should be a straight line that forms a triangle with the ground with your arm.

Perfect Crunch

(abdominals)

Lie on your back. Draw your knees up so your feet are flat on the ground. Extend your hands directly at the ceiling and focus your eyes on a single point above you. Keeping your eyes trained on the ceiling, clench your tummy hard and lift up for 5 seconds, then slowly return to the ground. Your shoulders should have lifted off the ground. If it becomes easy, you can hold a light weight over your head, like a book, etc.

Deadbug

(lower abdominals, lower back )

Lie on your back. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground. Your upper leg should be perpendicular to the ground, and your lower leg should be parallel, forming an “L.” Keep your head flat on the ground and slowly touch your heels to the ground, one at a time while maintaining the “L” shape. The rate should be ~1 touch/second

Inverted Plank

(gluteals, abdominals)

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Lift your hips up so that your body makes a triangle with the floor (your upper legs and torso form a straight line). Rest your upper torso on your shoulder-blades. Squeeze your butt and tummy to stay in place. If it gets easy, hold a weight above the joint of your hips and torso.

45-degree Hold

(gluteals, lower back, abdominals, hip flexors)

Lie on your back with arms relaxed at your sides. Keep legs straight and lift your feet up to 45-degrees. Hold!

Dead Stretch

When you’re done, lie stretched out on both your tummy and back. It should be very relaxing! Gently stretch anything sore.

Circuit 2

Perfect Sit-up

(abdominals)

Lie on back with knees drawn up and feet “glued” to the floor (don’t move them!). Cross arms comfortably with your hands on your shoulders. Squeeze your tummy and sit straight up; this is challenging! If you can’t do any, get a friend to hold your feet still.

Russian Twist

(obliques, abdominals)

Sit so that your torso is straight and about 60-degrees off the ground. Likewise, tuck your knees up so that your upper legs are also about 60 degrees off the ground (you will look like a “v”). Twist your torso so that you can tap the ground on your left side with the fingertips of both hands. Then twist the other direction. You can do this with controlled speed. As you become stronger, use a weighted ball to touch down on each side.

Sprinter Sit-up

(abdominals, obliques. Only do one kind of sit-up)

Lie on back with legs extended and arms extended flat on the ground above your head. Using your abdominals, sit up while tucking one knee up so that the foot is off the ground. As you reach the top, twist your torso toward the bent knee. The opposite arm ends up tucked between the raised leg and torso. Repeat on opposite side (rapidly).

Cyclist Sit-up

(abdominals, obliques)

Lie on back with knees drawn up, feet off the ground, and hands touching the sides of your head. Twist so that your elbow touches the opposite knee. It’s like a twisty crunch. Make it harder by extending the leg that is not touching your elbow above the ground. Repeat on opposite side (rapidly).

Inverted Plank

(gluteals, abdominals)

As described in Circuit 1.

Alternating Arm/Leg Raise

(lower back, gluteals)

Start on your knees and place hands shoulder width apart on ground. Your body should look like a table. Simultaneously raise and extend the right arm and left leg parallel to the ground while balancing on the other arm/leg. Hold two seconds, slowly return to start and repeat with left arm/right leg. Hold the last rep 10 seconds.

Dead Stretch

Same deal as Circuit 1: When you’re done, lie stretched out on both your tummy and back. It should be very relaxing! Gently stretch anything sore.