Hi from Sun Valley! Summer is in full swing here. We’re spending lots of time rollerskiing, running, lifting, and cooling off in the ice cold river. While my arm has been healing steadily and well after an elbow dislocation earlier in the summer, I still need to modify a lot of activities and strength exercises. Many of these core movements are new to me, so maybe they’ll help mix up your routine or give you a break from planks!
1. Side Banana Crunches - I don't know if this one actually has a name, but it is basically an extra-challenging side crunch. Lying on one side, extend your lower arm out in front of you and your upper arm overhead. Next, raise your legs and bring your upper arm up to meet them and feel the crunch in your obliques. 12 reps on each side will get a good burn going.
2. Twisting Crunches - Lying on your side again, but this time clasp your hands overhead. Sit up, crunch your legs in, and twist your arms to the other side. This is similar to a woodchop core exercise, but can be done from the floor like this if you want to eliminate some of the upper body resistance. I like 12 reps on each side of this exercise as well.
3. Figure 4 Crunch - Staying on your back, cross your right ankle over your left knee as if you were doing the figure 4 hip stretch. Straighten your left leg and then pull it back in for a crunch. This is a nice dual exercise; you get the hip stretch and the core work. 8-12 reps on each side for this one. It starts out easy and quickly starts to burn.
4. Kick Crunch - On your back with your hands overhead, raise both legs slightly off the ground. Bring your arms up and over as you lift up and kick one leg up. Lower your head back towards the ground at the same time as the single leg, but leave both legs hovering above the ground to keep your lower core engaged the whole time. Alternate which leg kicks up as you crunch, and see if you can get 12 reps on each side.
5. Extended Boat Pose - If you generally like to wrap up a core routine with a front plank, this is a good alternative. Focusing on stability, extend your legs out in front of you and your arms overhead. See how straight you can get your arms and legs; the further you extend, the more difficult it will be. See if you can hold this for a full minute!