You don’t need to go to the gym to get fit. Having a strong back and core are the foundation for a strong, fit body, and it’s easy to work both areas right at home with floor exercises. Floor exercises use mainly body weight, which makes them easy to do anywhere or anytime.
Why Work Your Back and Core
Ask any yoga or Pilates instructor what the most important part of your body to work is, and they’ll probably answer that it’s your core. Your core is responsible for helping you keep your balance when learning to do new yoga poses, for example. Having a strong core will also support your back, helping you to achieve good posture and avoid injuries.
Strengthening your back is also important, particularly when you work your core. When you take a yoga or Pilates course, one of the first things you’ll learn is that when you work one muscle group, you need to strengthen the corresponding muscles as well. So for every set of exercises you do on your abs, you need to do a corresponding set on your back. This creates the strongest core muscles, which will assist you in the rest of your quest to get fit.
Why Perform Floor Exercises
Floor exercises are a great way to gain strength and fitness anywhere you go. Floor exercises can be performed with or without hand weights, mats, or tension bands so no matter where you are, at home or in the office, you can strengthen your back and core with ease.
Floor exercises are also fairly quick and relatively easy to do. There’s little to no equipment, so the learning curve is fairly easy to master. There’s also less chance of injury, because you don’t need to worry about heavy weights or spotters.
Using Body Weight
One of the reasons that floor exercises can be so effective is that they often rely on body weight, rather than on equipment. Body weight training is a very effective way to get fit, because it uses your own weight – the same weight you carry with you every day – rather than small, artificial weights.
Research shows that high-intensity body weight workouts are actually more effective at getting you fit and taking off fat while building lean muscle than longer workouts at the gym. Body weight training also effectively combines cardio and strength training exercises together, so you’re getting more bang for your buck.
Floor exercises using body weight are also one of the best ways to rehabilitate after an injury. So if you’ve injured or strained your back, working some floor exercises on your back and core will help get you up to speed faster and more effectively than doing nothing or trying to plow through the pain at the gym.
Floor Exercises to Try
The number of different floor exercises that work the back, core, or the entire body is extremely high. Each exercise has a lot of variations you can try depending on your fitness level. Whether you’re getting ready to start a fitness course, and you want to improve your core strength first, or you’re trying to strengthen your back after an injury, these exercises can help.
The L Sit is a great core exercise that you can perform without any equipment. Simply sit down on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Lengthen your back so your torso is nice and tall and place your palms flat on the ground on either side of your hips. Press down firmly with your hands on the floor until your bottom lifts off the mat. Keep your legs straight out in front of you – don’t leave them behind on the ground. Hold this pose for five seconds, release and repeat.
Plank twists are an intense core exercise that works all areas of your abs, including upper, lower, and the obliques. Get into plank position, which looks a lot like a high push up position, but with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Slowly bend one knee, pulling it in toward your chest. Twist your body to bring your knee to the opposite arm pit, then extend it back into plank. Repeat on the other side.
Flutter kicks are great exercise for working your lower core – both abs and back. Lay flat on your back with legs extended and your arms relaxed at your sides. Lift your legs a few inches off the ground and begin to gently flutter kick your feet. Hold for as long as you can, rest, and repeat.
This variation on the yoga Bridge pose strengthens your back and core at once, while also being a great workout for your hip flexors as well. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Set your feet about hip width apart, then walk your feet in toward your bum until you can touch your heels with your finger tips. Press down firmly with both feet as you lift your bottom and lower back up off the floor, letting your weight rest in your legs and your shoulders. Lift one leg up off of the ground and extend it to the sky. Lower and repeat with the other leg.
This floor exercise is best performed nice and slow. In fact, the slower you move, the harder the exercise will be and the better the benefit. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands lightly behind your ears, without pulling on your head. Lift your feet a few inches up off of the floor and lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle. Twist one elbow toward the opposite knee, then straighten and twist to the opposite side. Move nice and slow as you continue to twist from side to side to strengthen your back and core.
Dolphin Push Ups
This extremely intense pose will work all the muscles in your upper back, along with your core. Start out in the yoga pose known as Dolphin Dog, or Downward Facing Dog but with your forearms and elbows on the floor and your hands clasped together in front of you. Slowly move forward, straightening out your lower body until you’re in a Dolphin Plank position, then return to the starting point and repeat.
This move is a little more advanced, for people who have been working their core and back for a while. Begin standing straight up and down with your hands raised above your head. Bend at the waist as you plant your hands flat on the ground, tighten your core muscles, and kick your legs up and out. Bring your legs back down and straighten up again.
The Superman is a great exercise for working every inch of your back from top to bottom. It’s also a great exercise for strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders if you hold the pose long enough. Lay face down on the floor with your legs extended behind you and arms stretched out in front. Keep your neck relaxed and your gaze a few feet in front of you as you lift your chest, arms, and legs up off of the floor at once. You should be aiming for balancing only on your pelvis, although beginners may find that a lot of their torso stays on the ground when they first begin to try the pose. Once you get yourself into position, relax, lower to the ground, and repeat.
This move uses a pair of dumbbells to perform. Start with a lightweight set and move up as you get stronger. Take one weight in each hand and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Keep a slight bend in your knees as you lean forward at the waist and put your hands out in front of your chest with palms facing each other. Keeping your arms straight, lift the weights out to each side and slightly behind you. Pause, return your arms to the starting position, and repeat.
This easy floor exercise is a very effective way to strengthen your back. Get onto your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Take the time to ensure that you have an equal amount of weight on all four points. Slowly extend one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg behind you. Lift both up toward the ceiling, pause, and lower to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side.
Core and back floor exercises are a great way to start strengthening your entire body. A strong core and back will help you perform other exercises and exercise programs much easier, allowing you to see even faster and better results. Start using your own body weight to perform some simply floor exercises on your core and back today. In just a short time, you’ll notice yourself getting much stronger and more fit.