strong core

Build a Strong Core Without Leaving Your Desk!

Ok, you might not get ripped abs typing away on your computer all day. But you can develop a strong core and improved wellness with these three simple moves.

Alex Teixeira, Owner and Head Trainer at Golden Fusion Fitness, has been generous enough to offer our readers some easy exercises to promote good health, balanced with a productive lifestyle.

This is part two of a five part series.

Last time, we touched on correct sitting posture. By focusing on this you’ve already begun to build that strong core! Just by keeping proper alignment while sitting, you are activating your postural muscles including the lumbar and abdominals.

So here are three more moves that can help with wellness, while being productive at work.

Belly Breathing: Our first exercise will take this correct sitting posture and add a type of belly breathing into the mix. Belly breathing is taught in dance, martial arts, singing, and other disciplines.

The majority of adults who have not been formally trained in belly breathing from one of these disciplines usually breathe using the expansion and contraction of the rib cage. This fills little more than the upper chambers of the lungs, just over a third capacity. To fill the rest of our lungs with vital oxygen we must consciously draw down our diaphragm by expanding your belly while inhaling.

To make the cleansing effect of our respiratory system extremely efficient, we must also come as close to completely emptying our lungs as possible when exhaling. To make this happen, simply flex those abdominals as you breath out until past the point you feel you have nothing left. Yes, this will help strengthen those stomach muscles. And what’s the wonderful side effect? How about increased blood flow to the brain even more rich in oxygen! Are alertness, thought power, and focus important to any of you?

Lounging: No, I don’t mean lunging. But lounging might not be quite as easy as it may sound either. More like edge-of-your-seat action!

First, shift forward in your seat so that your back is well away from the backrest. Now, slowly begin to lean back maintaining a straight spine. You should notice your abdominals are forced to flex, with the tension increasing the further you lean. Find a position that works for you and provides a sufficient challenge. Start with 30 seconds to test the waters, but you could potentially work to 20-30 minute stretches of this exercise rather quickly.

Knee Lifts: Alternating knee lifts will help you target your lower abdominals. Choose a time when you know you have a few minutes of reading or reflecting to do this exercise.

Push that keyboard drawer in and move back enough to give your knees some clearance. If you’re reading, adjust your monitor to make sure you are not straining your eyes in the process.

Now raise one knee towards your chest, as high as you can go before returning to the original position. Try to maintain a steady movement with a 3-4 count up and a 3-4 count down, consisting of about 10 reps each leg per set. You can alternate performing sets of the exercise by thrusting the knee as quickly and high as you can and gently returning it down.

WARNING: Do not throw your head and body forward to raise your knee higher! Keeping good posture throughout these exercises is paramount!

Bonus Move! Since the above exercise does require you to be slightly further from your desk, let’s look into another option you can even perform while writing!

You can also engage your core focusing on lower abdominals by extending your feet off the ground and away from you under the desk.

Begin by shifting forward until your sitting bones are close to the edge of your chair. When you hold your feet away from your centre, your core is forced to engage utilizing the lower fibres in order to counterbalance the weight. Your abdominals will receive a sustained isometric contraction building muscle tone and endurance.

Start with 10 second repetitions and work your way up. When you can maintain the hold for at least 30 seconds, try easing in some paddling with the feet (moving them up and down alternately).

A strong core will help you in your daily life, whether you’re lifting a child, carrying groceries, painting a wall, or delivering a presentation. Don’t neglect it!

Part Three coming soon!

Alex Teixeira is the owner and head trainer at Golden Fusion Fitness.

Richard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, providing professional business copywriting services, as well as comprehensive manuscript editing and proofreading.