7 Household Items You Can Use to Improve Core Strength

Part of the Core Strength For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Your home is full of core-strengthening aids. What follows are seven common items you can use in your fitness routine. Now you really have no excuse not to stretch.

A chair

A chair can be a very useful and effective prop for exercising. To do a seated sit-up, sit in a chair and extend your arms out in front of you. Now rise to a standing position. Notice how you're forced to use your core. Pause before sitting back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Don't use a chair with wheels.

A beam or rafter

Just like in the movie Rocky, you can hang from an open beam in your house or garage to do a pull-up. At first you'll probably only be able to hold yourself up for a few seconds, but as your grip gets stronger, you'll be able to chin-up or pull yourself up to really feel the strength in your core increasing.

A desk

Your desk can be an excellent prop for exercising. When you need to take a break from sitting in front of the computer, you don't have to go very far to move some different muscles. Here's how to do desk lunges:

  1. Stand in front of your desk an arm's length away and place both hands on top.

  2. Lean into a lunge position so your right knee bends and your left leg is extended behind you.

  3. Drop your left knee slowly to the floor as you tighten your stomach muscles to hold your body weight stable.

  4. Inhale deeply as you press back up to a standing position, using your abs and back to keep you standing tall. Switch legs and repeat.

A doorway

A doorway is a great exercise prop because it's both stable and large enough to have many different applications. Try this shoulder stretch:

  1. Grab onto the molding over the top of the door with your fingertips.

  2. Bend your knees slightly, but keep your feet on the floor until you feel a stretch in your abdominals and back muscles.

  3. Grab onto the sides of the doorway and bend forward as if you were going to touch your toes.

Stairs

If you have stairs in your house, use them. When you're done, stretch out your feet and legs with the following exercise:

  1. Stand on the bottom step with only the ball (front) of your right foot pressed down as your left foot remains beside it. Inhale deeply.

    Make sure you hold on to a railing or something stable to prevent you from falling.

  2. As you exhale, slowly lower your heel until you feel a comfortable stretch in your calf.

  3. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds.

  4. Try to gently drop your heel a little lower until you feel a deeper stretch in your calf.

  5. Repeat the stretch on your other leg.

An excellent variation to help you stretch your calf more deeply is to slightly bend the knee of the leg you're stretching. You should feel a difference at the base of your calf.

A wall

You can use a wall to support any stretch. It's smooth and wide and because a wall is adjacent to the floor, you have two firm, stable sources of support. You can do push-ups using the wall, too. The exercise is easier when you use the wall, but it's just as effective at toning your core, and it's especially good for strengthening your back.

A book

Sit on a big book to lift your hips off the floor just enough to take away some of the stress and strain of a tight lower back. When you don't feel that strain anymore, you can stretch forward to grasp your toes and focus on pulling your belly button to your spine without rounding your back.

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Core Strength For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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