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10 Core Exercises For Women

10 Core Exercises For Women

You can’t make excuses when it comes to your fitness, right? No matter how busy you are, you need to be in good shape and health. It’s obviously challenging to find those precious few minutes for a workout, but you need to find time for exercise and add it to your daily checklist. Creative exercise regimens can be a great help when you just want to skip your trip to the gym. People from different walks of life are stuck in this dilemma, especially working women who frequently have to ask the question “When do I workout? I simply just don’t have the time.” Believe me, you do!

All of us desire a lean, hourglass shape, and fitting exercise into our daily routine seems like an impossible task. But there are some basic strategies you can use to get your muscles working and your heart pumping to achieve a well-toned body. We’ve created a list of the top 10 core exercises for women to fit in their daily routine to make the most of their exercise time. No matter how busy you are with your everyday chores, take out some time, work that body, and get some booty.

1. Side Plank

Side-Plank

    The side plank is a yoga exercise that strengthens the arms, abdomen, and legs. The overall sense of balance is improved. It is a variation of the normal plank exercise where you build strength by assuming the position of a pushup.

    How To Do It: Lie on your right side with your legs absolutely straight. Lift yourself up with your right forearm, making a diagonal shape. Your left hand should be resting on your hip. Brace your abs and try to hold for 60 seconds. If it’s not possible for you to make it to 60 seconds, hold for 10 to 15 seconds and rest for 5; make sure your hips and knees stay off the floor. Repeat on the other side.

    2. Pushups

    Push Up

      Pushups are the best exercise for women. Add pushups to your regular workout to strengthen your chest. Your shoulders, triceps, and glutes will get into tremendous shape with a perfectly toned and tightened core. Give yourselves an extra boost by working all those muscles at once, torching tons of calories. You can’t ask for more in a single exercise, right?

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      How To Do It: Position your hands just outside your shoulders, directly below the shoulder line. Keep your feet together and make sure your body is in a perfect line from heels to head, as if a broomstick along your body would touch your head, back, buttocks, and heels. Core and glutes should be tightly engaged. Lower yourself enough to at least get your elbows to 90 degrees and touch your chest to the ground if possible. Raise your body back up and straighten your arms (without locking your elbows).

      3. Step-ups

      Step up

        The step-up is a very simple compound exercise that works several lower-body muscles. It also has many variations that you can include in your daily exercises to stay fit while keeping your routine fresh.

        How To Do It: Stand in front of a step, bench, or stair with straight posture (back, legs, arms, and feet absolutely straight). Your feet should be hip-distance apart and you should have weights in both hands with your palms facing your body. Step onto the center of the step with one foot. Bend your knee slowly and step back down. Remember to switch sides.

        4. Bridges

        Glute-bridge

          The bridge exercise, also known as the hip raise, is an excellent workout to give strength to the bottom, backs of the legs, and the core. People with back injuries can perform this exercise to align their back muscles.

          How To Do It: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips off the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top then slowly lower your body back to the floor.

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          5. Plank with Arm Raise

          Side Plank with arm raise

            The plank with arm raise is a multifunctional exercise. It improves shoulder and spine stability, along with strengthening the core and lower back regions. The rolling movement of the body as you switch arms shifts the load to your core, ultimately making you work hard to maintain your balance and impacting your posture immediately.

            How To Do It: Get into a pushup position. Slowly raise one arm up and turn your body to face the side with your feet stacked. Hold this position for a few sections, then slowly return to your starting position. Repeat the movement on the other side.

            6. Chair dips

            chair dips

              Chair dips are considered to be one of the best workouts for your triceps, as the entire weight of your body is being held by your triceps as you move through a complete range of motion. This triceps exercise can be done anywhere you can find a sturdy chair.

              How To Do It: Face away from the chair. Hold onto the edge with both hands, knuckles pointing right in front. Get yourself into a sliding posture with your bottom off the seat and arms absolutely straight, but making sure your body is close to the chair. Lower your body for two counts slowly while bending your elbows (which should be pointing directly behind you). Straighten your arms for a count of two. They should be supporting all your weight. Do 10 reps per set. During the last set, hold at the bottom for eight counts and pulse up and down slightly before straightening your arms.

              7. Lunges

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              Capture

                Lunges are a great exercise for the development of the thighs and hips as they target the hip extensors and the knee extensors. There are two main kinds of lunges — the walking lunge and the stationary lunge. Both variations involve the same muscles but the involvement of those muscles is very different.

                How To Do It: Stand tall, pull your shoulders back and place your hands on your hips. Step forward with your right leg and lower your body slowly. Try and bend your front knee to 90 degrees. It’ll be difficult in the beginning, but you will make progress. Make sure your back knee is slightly above the floor and is not rested. Push yourself up and repeat.

                8. Squats

                squats

                  The squat is the king of all exercises. It is a full-body compound exercise and more muscles work in this movement than in any other exercise, making it the most effective exercise to gain overall strength. You can do squats anywhere because you aren’t using anything else except your own body weight. It is primarily used for lower body, thigh, and buttock training. Apart from overall strength, squatting also improves digestion, circulation, and posture.

                  How To Do It: Stand tall and straight with your feet hip-width apart and arms down by your sides. Lower your body back as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Try and push your weight onto your heels. Your arms will start to rise in front of you for balance as you are lowering down. Your spine should be neutral at all times and there shouldn’t be any time during the motion when your knees go over your toes. Keep your lower body parallel with the floor and your chest should be lifted and not rounded. Lift back up, with control, to the starting position.

                  9. Planks

                  Plank-exercise

                    The appearance of your abs could be improved by a well-performed plank workout. It’s the best thing you can do to shape your abs perfectly. The most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that generally people do planks wrong and achieve nothing even after several months of working out. The key to success is to reach a striking position. If you have any spinal or shoulder injuries, avoid attempting this without medical advice.

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                    How To Do It: Get into a pushup position and bend your elbows. Rest your weight onto your forearms and not your hands or wrists. Make sure your body is forming a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. Start engaging your core by sucking your belly button into your spine. Hold this position for as long as you can.

                    10. Arm Circles

                    Arm Circles

                      This exercise seems extremely simple but is actually a very deceptive and difficult move. It does not add bulk to the muscles involved, yet increases your overall endurance. This movement requires no equipment and is considered to be one of the most effective training movements.

                      How To Do It: Extend your arms out while standing upright. Keep your arms parallel to the floor. Start making circles of about one foot in diameter with each arm. Initially, keep it a bit slow. As you pick up the pace, remember to breathe slowly. Continue the movement for about 10 seconds then reverse it to the opposite direction.

                      Featured photo credit: Earl McGehee / Stretching via flickr.com

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                      Published on January 17, 2020

                      How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

                      How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

                      If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

                      Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

                      But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

                      And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

                      What is Yoga?

                      Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

                      The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

                      When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

                      Let’s see how to do that:

                      Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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                      Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

                      Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

                      Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

                      This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

                      But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

                      The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

                      But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

                      You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

                      It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

                      Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

                      In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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                      As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

                      Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

                      Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

                      Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

                      As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

                      Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

                      But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

                      The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

                      So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

                      The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

                      The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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                      1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
                      2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
                      3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
                      4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
                      5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

                      That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

                      Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

                      However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

                      It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

                      Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

                      Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

                      Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

                      Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

                      This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

                      This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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                      1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
                      2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
                      3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
                      4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

                      This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

                      Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

                      Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

                      You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

                      Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

                      The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

                      Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

                      Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

                      Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

                      The stillness and the watching within.

                      Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

                      More About Yoga

                      Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
                      [2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
                      [3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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