Ryan Lochte – part of the stable of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls who’ll be sporting red, white and blue as well as the Polo logo as Ralph Lauren brand ambassadors for the London games – is like a racehorse. He’s lean, strong and fast, with a nose, eye and heart for the finish line. While Ryan’s muscular legs and ripped upper body are part of what make him stand out in the field, the muscles beneath his lower torso – those that make up the often buzzed-about core – are the true sources of his Olympian horsepower.
The core is not just another word for abs. While this muscle group supports the abdomen, it also embraces the lower and mid-back, and by extension, the hips, shoulders and neck. The core is, Ryan says, the most important thing in swimming.
Beyond slimming your waist, working your core will prevent or alleviate back pain, allow you to work every other body part more efficiently and give you an edge in whatever activity you love to do. Just remember to begin all core exercises by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
Stability Ball Passes:
- Lie flat on your back, arms overhead and legs extended. Hold the ball between your hands.
- Picking head and shoulder blades off the floor, raise arms toward the ceiling. At the same time, lift legs off of the floor, keeping them as straight as possible.
- As feet and hands come together, pass the stability ball from hands to feet. Holding the ball between feet, lower feet toward the floor and arms, shoulder blades and head back to the mat.
- Repeat the motion, this time passing ball from feet to hands.
- Lie on your stomach with arms extended overhead, biceps by ears. Keep legs stretched straight behind you, feet slightly wider than hip distance apart.
- Looking down at the floor, in one motion, with thumbs facing the ceiling, raise arms and legs off of the ground. Chest and chin should come off of the ground, but eyes should remain looking down.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly lower to complete one rep.