A functional core is a must for better fatloss workouts and a lean toned body because the more core stability you have the better you perform when doing all types of exercises especially any exercises that involve planks, inversions, rotation, or multi-directional lunges.
I combined all the best functional core exercises into a quick workout that you can do 2-3 times a week to boost core stability fast. Many of the functional exercises in all the functional workouts I've been posting lately are from my Paul Chek Scientific Core Conditioning certification as well as his book Eat Move & Be Healthy.
Functional Core Exercises Workout Instructions: This is not a circuit. You will perform each exercise individually and only with excellent technique. Once your technique goes out the window you must stop the exercise or you start training dysfunction which is the opposite of what you want.
You will need to tie a string around your waist so there is no space between the string and your belly button when your abs are relaxed. Keep the string on for the entire workout.
4 point TVA vacuum - Get down on your hands and knees and place a yoga block on your lumbar curve. Breathe out and slowly draw in the deep abdominals (transversus abdominis or TVA for short) without flattening your lumbar curve, moving any other muscles in your body. Hold the contraction for 5-10 seconds and release then repeat 10 times to complete one set. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 10 more times for a second set.
You are doing this exercise correctly if you will feel a strong contraction of the deep abs while the rest of your body is relaxed. You should be able to fit two fingers between your belly button and the string while your TVA is contracting. This is NOT an easy exercise for most people so be patient. The TVA is a major stabilizer of the lower back so if you've got back pain this exercise is even more important for you!
Forward flexion TVA activation - Stand with feet in a lunge stance holding a moderate weight db or medicine ball at chest level. Breathe in as you bend from the hips and push the butt back then breathe out and bend slightly at the knees and reach the ball to the floor as you contract the TVA.
Again you should be able to fit two fingers between your belly button and the string as you reach down and start to pull back up. NEVER hunch over or bend from the waist. If this exercise bothers your low back skip it until you are stronger or try it without a weight at first. Try 1-2 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.
Lower ab psoas coordination rev. crunch - Lay on your back with legs bent and resting on a stability ball. Breathe in and place the fingertips above the head with arms bent then breathe out and contract the TVA to flatten the back into the floor and roll the knees into the chest.
Grip the ball lightly with feet and hamstrings and try to keep your legs and upper body relaxed. If your knees tend to spread open, place a wide yoga block between the knees so the inner thighs don't end up doing all the work.
You are doing this exercise correctly when you can lift and lower the legs without arching the lower back or squeezing the ball to death. Try 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps.
Flexor chain stability ball crunch - Lay on a stability ball with legs bent at 90 degrees and fingertips behind the ears. Breathe in and reach back into a mini backbend to stretch the upper abs (rectus abdominis) then breathe out and press your tounge into the roof of your mouth as you begin to lift the neck up then contract the deep abs (TVA) to flatten the lower back into the ball as you lift the shoulders off the ball then contract the rectus abdominis as you curl forward and lift the upper back off the ball. Slowly lower back to the starting position. BTW, this is the hardest exercise for me as I'm sure you can tell!
You are doing this right if you feel like you are rolling up and down one vertebrae at a time without pulling on the head or bouncing on the ball and you can maintain a space about the size of a tennis ball between your chest and chin. This is not easy to do correctly and you will feel that your neck is working and as it should be. Try 1-2 sets of 10-20 reps.
Kneeling stability ball balance - Place a stability ball in front of a wall and kneel on it using the wall to stabilize. Contract the TVA and release the hands off the wall to balance. As soon as you start to lose your balance reach for the wall and start over. Keep the head tall and shoulders back and try not to grip with the legs glutes or shoulders. Keep in mind that balance is not static so you will be shifting a bit as you balance. The point is to stay on the ball as long as possible with good posture and a good solid TVA contraction.