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The Ten Secrets To A Solid Core

Your core is the center of your health and strength. A solid core is the foundation on which you build your body. A toned, conditioned and strong core us the key to looking good, feeling good and being full of energy.

The definition of "core" varies by the reference and usage, but in fitness and body building it is the central part of your body: Your upper and lower abdominals, your obliques on your sides and your lower back.

If any of these elements are weak or injured, it is hard to work and develop the other parts of your body.

Your core muscles and ligaments get worked some whatever exercises you do. But, to strengthen your core requires specific exercise.

Once your core muscle groups are strong and conditioned the other parts of your workout become easier and more effective.

Let's deal with each part of your core separately, even though when you work one part of your middle the other parts get exercised also. Focusing on each specific muscle group individually will get faster and better results and build lean muscle mass faster.

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Abdominals - These exercises are intended to strengthen the muscles and are not intended to show your "six-pack." Diet is the key to uncovering these muscles for display.

* Sit-Ups - I know, I know, many fitness gurus say that these are not necessary for showing off your six-pack, but they are the best means of building strength in the abdominal muscles, sort of like the bench press builds chest, but doesn't shape or cut it up.

* Crunches - contracts and conditions the abs. Perform on floor or with a Swiss ball.

* Leg raises - good for the lower abdominals. May be performed on the floor or on a dip bar or parallel bar.

* Bench leg crunches - seated on a bench, legs extended straight in front, raise knees to chest, contracting the abs. Also good for lower abs.

* Leg raises on chinning bar - hang from the bar with a wide grip and raise your straightened legs until they are parallel to the ground while contracting your midsection. Works entire abdominal group.

* Frontal levers on the chinning bar - hang from the bar with a wide grip. With your arms stiff, lever your body up attempting to get parallel with the floor and hold that position for a five count. Repeat ten times.

Obliques - These exercises will build and shape those "love handles." Subcutaneous fat is best removed by dieting.

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* Side bends - using a heavy dumbbell, stand erect with your feet together, bend to your side (the one holding the dumbbell) as far as you can. Return to erect and repeat for ten reps. With the dumbbell in the other hand, work the other side.

* Twists - standing erect with your feet at about shoulder width and arms held out, twist your body to the left rapidly for ten reps, then twist to the right ten reps, then finish with ten complete 180 degree twists.

Lower Back - If you ever hear anyone complain of a "bad back" they are usually referring to the lower back muscles. A weak back causes additional strain on your abdominals often causing a weakness and accentuating stomach size.

* Lower back torso raises - These may be performed with benches or a stand specifically designed for this exercise. With your legs and lower torso on a bench, face down with your hands behind your head, lower your upper body to the ground, then return to the start position, arching your back to contract the lower back muscles.

Repeat for twenty repetitions. As your muscles develop, the exercise become easier, so hold a weight behind your head. Keep increasing the weight as your back becomes stronger.

* Bending dead-lifts - Stand erect with your feet spread and holding a moderate weight barbell, bend forward until the barbell touches the ground. Return to erect position. Repeat for ten repetitions.

I hope that this information helps you with your quest for fitness and strength.

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