FIT 316 Core Workout (Beginner’s)
Exercise Descriptions

Levels 1 & 2:

Straight Plank (Basic):  The basic plank position begins on the floor face
down on your stomach.  The best straight plank position is performed
with your elbows on the floor directly positioned underneath your
shoulders and on your toes with your feet at a right angle to the floor
(much like you would if doing a push up).  Your body should be held
straight with your core muscles engaged and pulled in towards your belly
button.  Do not allow your lower back to sag towards the floor, nor allow
your body to peak up like a mountain with your butt at the peak.  A very
slight arch is acceptable.  Keep your neck straight and eyes towards the
floor.  Hold this position as long as possible without losing proper form.  
Variations:  If you cannot properly hold the position described above in
the beginning, you can perform the straight plank from your elbows and
on your knees instead of your toes.  As your core muscles develop and
become stronger, move up to your toes.  
If you would like to trim and tone your arms and upper body more,
instead of positioning yourself on your elbows, hold the plank on your
hands with your arms straight.  Your hands should be approximately
shoulder width.  Note:  Straight planking on your elbows will work your
core muscles more effectively.  

Side Plank (Basic Straight):  The side plank begins on the floor lying on
either your left or right side.  The best side plank position is performed on
your elbows and the side of the foot on the underneath side.  Legs and
ankles should be held straight with the foot on the upper side lying on top
of your bottom foot which is on the floor. Your body should be held
straight with no sagging in the middle or arch on the top.  Core muscles
should be engaged, along with other various muscles groups to hold
your body in a straight position.  Your elbow should be positioned directly
underneath your shoulder.  The arm on top can be held to the side of
your body, held straight towards the ceiling or bent with your hand
behind your head. Of course, you will need to do equal work on both the
left and right sides.  
Variations:  If you cannot properly hold the position described above in
the beginning, you can perform the straight plank from your elbows and
on your knees instead of the side of your foot.  As your core and oblique
muscles develop and become stronger, move to the side of your feet.  
Instead of positioning yourself on your elbows, you can use your hands
with your arms straight.  This will require greater balance coordination,
and is useful in trimming and toning your arms and upper body.  
Back Planking (Straight):  With hands firmly behind and supporting the
upper back, the legs straight and feet together with heels on the ground
– lift torso up to a straight position and hold for the specified length of
time. Your body should be in a straight position, without your rear end
sagging.  To hold this position, you will have to engage your core, glutes
and leg muscles.

Level 3:  

Side Planking Lifts:  You will begin in the same position as the Basic
Side Plank.  Face sideways with one elbow on the ground and feet
together, and legs straight and feet together, lift to a straight side plank.  
Your elbow should be positioned directly underneath your shoulder.  The
arm on top can be held to the side of your body, held straight towards the
ceiling or bent with your hand behind your head.  Lower hips slowly all
the way to the ground and lift back to the straight position.  Repeat for
the desired number of repetitions.  Switch to the other side and do the
same number of repetitions.  This exercise works the core and oblique
muscles specifically.

Flat Back Lifts:  Begin laying on your back on the floor, with your legs
bent and your feet flat on the floor close to your rear end.  Place your
hands flat on the floor at your sides.  Keeping your shoulder blades on
the floor, lift your back and butt off the floor as far as you can.  Pause for
a second at full extension and lower your rear end back to the floor.
Repeat as many times as you can with good form.   This exercise will
specifically target your glutes, back and core muscles.  

Superman Planks:  Begin on hands and knees with back straight.  
Extend one arm and one alternate leg out straight and hold (example:
right arm / left leg; left arm / right leg).  Hold this position as long as you
can with good form, then alternate to the other arm and leg.  

Level 4:  

Side Planking with Reach Under:  Begin in the basic Side Planking
position, except place your top foot directly on the floor behind your
bottom foot.  Hold your arm straight up to begin.  Slowly turn your body,
lowering your arm and reach under your body while holding a straight
plank.  Return back to the original position with your arm stretched out
straight above.  Repeat this movement for the desired number of
repetitions.  Switch to the other side and perform the same number of
repetitions.  

Mountain Climbing:  Begin in a straight planking position with hands on
the ground.  Bend one leg and bring the knee underneath while slightly
raising your rear end up to accommodate the movement.  Stretch the leg
back to the original position.  Move the other leg in the same way.  This
will complete one repetition.  You can either do this for a specified time,
or for a certain number of repetitions.  As you get better at this, you can
move your right knee across your body towards your left elbow, and your
left knee towards your right elbow.  You should also do this exercise at a
faster pace as you progress.  

Back Bridges:  Begin in a seated position on the floor with your arms
straight and hands pointed forwards and supporting your back.  Bend
your knees and bring your legs up towards your chest, keeping your feet
flat on the floor.  Lift your rear end off the floor until your back is parallel
with the floor.  Your legs should be bent at a 90 degree angle, and your
arms should be directly underneath your shoulder blades.  Your end
position should resemble table.  Hold this position for a specified time
frame and lower yourself back to the starting position.  

Level 5:  

Stomach Crunches:  Laying flat on your back on the floor with your legs
bent and your feet flat on the floor, lift your head and shoulder blades just
off the floor with your back straight. Engage your abdominal muscles for
the entire movement.  Hold the position and lower your head and
shoulders back to the floor.  Do not put your chin in your chest – this is
not good for your back.
Variation:  Instead of having your feet on the floor, lift legs and feet off
the floor until they form a 90 degree angle.

Side-to-Side Heel Touches: Laying flat on your back on the floor, knees
bent and elevated off the floor, feet flat on the floor but planted slightly to
the side – raise up in a semi-crunch position with your head and shoulder
blades slightly off the floor.  Shimmy from side to side touching each heel
with the finger tips.  Work towards touching further down the foot to the
small toe eventually.  Go from one side to the other for a specified period
of time.  You will need to engage your abdominal and core muscles,
keeping them contracted for the duration of the exercise.  
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