Strong muscles in your core — your torso — stabilise your body, allowing you to sit for long stretches without slumping or rake leaves (your arms move while your trunk provides leverage). Strong abdominal and back muscles help prevent back strains and also help power your golf swing and your swimming stroke.
Lower abdominals, some upper abdominals
• Lie face-up on a mat or carpet with your knees bent. Raise one leg at a time, straightening each leg so that the soles of your feet face the ceiling. Raise your head from the floor slightly, placing your palms behind your head to provide neck support.
• As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles (abs) to pull your legs back about 30 degrees towards your head. Don’t interlock your fingers or pull on your head, which can result in strained neck muscles. Use your abs, not your leg muscles, to do this.
• Inhale as you relax your abs to slowly return your legs to their original position.
• Do two sets of 15 reps.
Obliques (the diagonal muscles that run along the sides of your waist)
• Lie face-up on a mat with your knees bent. Place your left ankle across your right knee and your left hand palm up on the floor perpendicular to your body. Place your right palm behind your head. Don’t interlock your fingers or pull on your head, which can result in strained neck muscles.
• Exhale, bringing your right shoulder towards your left knee. Your right hand should not pull your head forward, but simply support it.
• Pause briefly, then inhale as you slowly lower your upper body to the mat. Switch sides.
• Do two sets of 15 reps, each side.