Build hard core strength with these 5 hardcore drills!
We're not talking about vanity muscles or attaining an unobtainable 12 pack. We're referring to the important group of muscles above the hips and below the ribs, from front to back and side to side. Please modify each of the drills to fit your practice. Healthy "hard core strength" is a more of a marathon and less of a sprint. Listen to how your body reacts when entering into and preparing for each drill. Big thanks to James Fowler (@acrohulk on Instagram) for sharing his favorite FeetUp strength exercises!
SIDE FOREARM PLANK (5 to 10 breaths each side per round, 3 rounds)
One major benefit of doing forearm plank is less pressure in the wrists. Focus on maintaining proper alignment in the rest of your body. Side forearm plank challenges external obliques and shoulders to work together to maintain a long spine. Start with both ankles stacked atop the cushion before trying the more challenging variation. As you can see, James starts with his top ankle flexed and pushing down into the cushion to hug the bottom ankle up into the Trainer. This side plank variation builds "hard core strength" by pressing down into the cushion on ground as the midline engages to lift the bottom leg upwards.
PLANK SHIN TAPS (5 to 10 taps each leg on both sides per round, 3 rounds)
Note how James starts by engaging his lower back and core in Cat Pose (anterior pelvic tilt with a rounded upper back, tailbone actively extending towards knees) before extending a leg back to press down through a pointed foot. The real challenge is to keep the bottom shin parallel to the ground as you press through the upper leg. It may help to start in a forearm plank (yay!) to build the internal awareness of strength. For many, will find that extended arms will help. Feel free to use blocks or parallettes for extra length and support in your wrists!
LOWER BACK CRUNCHES (3 to 5 reps, 3 rounds)
More commonly known as "Reverse Hyper Extensions" in gym talk, back crunches with the FeetUp Trainer are very much a "hard core exercise" and 100% no joke. According to James: "They will make you rethink your life, that's for sure." Note that he begins facing the flat edge of the cushion. Start by finding a comfortable mount onto the Trainer. From there, start with one leg at a time before attempting to raise both. Keep your lower abdominals active as you focus on lifting from the back muscles and glutes to lift legs.
PLANK SHOULDER SHRUGS (up to 30 second plank pose with 5 - 10 presses, 3 rounds)
Keep the spine long and quads active as you explore range of motion though shoulder extension. On an exhale, press the ground away to lift the spine parallel to the ground. Use the exhale to lower the spine closer to the floor while maintaining that parallel line. You'll definitely want to keep the abdominals engaged, lower back active (tailbone pointing towards heels), and neck active with gaze slightly forward. Are you looking for an easier variation? If so, start with regular plankton find proper arm placement and build strength to hold shape. From there, start with tiny extensions in the shoulders before making huge movements. A little work goes a looooong way here! Pressure in your wrists? If so, consider a set of Balance Blocks to find more grip with optimal comfort.
360° PIKE SWIVELS (as many as you like!)
For all the inversion lovers, there are few core exercises as dynamic and beautiful as a full 360 pike swivel. From FeetUp Asana, keep your legs pressed together and draw a circle with your toes in each direction. Do you like to visualize during movement? If so, the image of a clock may be super helpful. Try tracing as big a circle as possible clockwise and counter-clockwise. Just like the other drills, start small and take your time to expand range of motion. If you want to build balanced strength, focus and control are just as important as range of motion. Check out this helpful workout series to sharpen up your inversion practice!
Here's the entire hard core strength sequence: