The core muscles of the trunk stabilize the body and keep you in balance when performing activities. Core exercises are instrumental in keeping the core muscles -- the abdomen, hips and pelvis -- working in harmony. To strengthen your core through exercise, you don't need any equipment, although using a balance disc may help you achieve results more quickly.
A balance disc --sometimes called a wobble board-- is an exercise device that creates an unbalanced surface. The disc is placed on the floor and various exercises are performed on the apparatus. When the body is confronted with an uneven surface, it must activate the deep core muscles in order to keep balance and stability in the body. Before practicing core and balance exercises on the balance disc, be sure that you are confident with the movements on stable ground to minimize your risk of injury.
It may be a challenge just to stand up on the balance disc, so start slowly and hold on to the back of a chair for support until you feel more comfortable standing on your own. As your core muscles become stronger, try raising one leg and balancing on the other leg for as long as you can. Bring the knee of the raised leg up toward your chest for an extra challenge. Hold on to a weight or kettle ball and twist your upper body while balancing on the disc to further engage your core muscles.
You don't have to stand on the balance disc to feel the effects in your core muscles. Try a challenging version of a side plank pose by placing your right hand on the balance disc and straightening your arm completely. Roll onto the outside of your right foot. The entire right side of your body should be off the floor as your left hand reaches up towards the sky. Repeat on the opposite side. To perform a modified bridge pose, place your upper back on the balance disc and plant your feet firmly into the floor with your knees pointing up towards the ceiling. Engage your core muscles as you raise your hips up towards the sky. Lower your hips and repeat.
Practice core exercises on the balance board to add an extra intensity to your workout. Lie back with the balance disc on your lower back and your feet flat on the floor. Bring your arms across your chest or behind your head. On an exhale, engage your abdominal muscles and raise your upper chest toward your knees. Lower back down again and repeat. Try a modified version of abdominal crunches by raising your feet off the floor or performing a twist at the top of the crunch to work the oblique muscles, the muscles that run along the side of the ribs.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.