Want a strong core? Start here.


Your core serves to do a couple of things, namely: Stabilize your spine and mobilize your spine.

All too often, I see people jump right into the latter when it comes to core strength, meaning they’ll perform dynamic movements without finding stability first. And then they’ll come away with burning hip flexors, aching low backs and other signs of not properly activating their core.

When you begin by working on stability it really helps you to fine tune the mind-body connection that is essential for core strength. And then once you feel your core working, build upon that.

I often start sessions with some sort of activation exercise, and this one borrowed from Pilates, Ribcage Arms is one of my favorites. It really helps to have a foam roller, but this can be done on a mat as well.

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor.  Find a neutral pelvis (tailbone heavy, lil pocket of air under the low back).
  2. Try to feel a connection between the backs of the ribs and the roller (or the floor).  Press straight arms into the floor right next to the hips.  
  3. Take an inhale and reach the arms up toward the ceiling, and back alongside the ears, keeping elbows and wrists super straight.  Pause once you feel the backs of the ribs want to lift off the floor or roller.  Exhale as you press the arms down to the floor right where they started.

The whole point of this exercise is to use the arms to challenge (in a small, yet sorta profound way) your core stability, meaning, you can only move you arms as far and as fast as your ribcage stays stable.

Try to feel the muscles that connect the ribcage to the pelvis, and try to feel them work a bit to keep the ribs from flaring and the spine from arching (remember: the ribcage and the pelvis are connected via the spine 😉).

It forces you to feel deep, intrinsic muscles.  It makes you connect your breath to your movement, and your body to your mind.

It’s also a good self-check before you step into more dynamic movement.  That is…if you can’t keep your core stable while you move your arms, maybe those leg lifts should wait til you build that strength and awareness 🤔

Move slowly and intentionally.  No, you won’t come away with burning abs, but you will come away with an understanding of what your core is, and what it can do, if you use it correctly 🤓

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Alexis Ring

Cycling, Skiing, Road Biking, Open Water Swimming, Swimming, Gravel Biking
San Francisco, CA

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