Home Core Training Exercise – Unsupported Heel Slide

Home Core Training Exercise

Stephen Holt, Timonium personal trainer

Millions of readers of national fitness magazines including Shape, Women's Health, Fitness. Woman's Day, Family Circle, Runner's World, (and many others) have made their exercise programs both more effective AND more efficient with fitness and nutrition advice from "America's Baby Boomer Expert," Stephen Holt.

A loyal client at my Timonium gym recently asked me :

“How Can I Train My Core Muscles at Home?”

I recommended this simple home core training exercise [suitable for beginners] we call the “Unsupported Heel Slide.”

[The “unsupported” refers to the position of your feet. In the “supported” version, we keep one foot on the floor as you slide the heel of your opposite foot. The supported version is typically too easy for active people who don’t have acute low back pain.]

The goal here is to train your core muscles to control the position of your pelvis while you move your legs. Each time you reach your leg out you’re increasing the tendency for your pelvis to rotate anteriorly – in other words, the gap under your back will tend to increase UNLESS you use your abs to control that pelvic tilt.

Home Core Training Exercise, Unsupported Heel Slide – How to Do It

– Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. (We fitness pros call this the crook-lying position.)

There should be a natural arch in your low back. In other words, there should be a space under your low back. (If not, you have a really flat back and this exercise would only make it worse.)

– With your palms down, place your hands on the floor so that your fingertips are in the space under your low back.

– Now, contract your abs and tilt your pelvis just enough to feel the pressure of your back against your fingertips.

– BREATHE NORMALLY. If you cannot breathe normally, it’s because you’ve tightened your abs too much. This is a great time to let go of the exercise-must-hurt-and-I-must-strain attitude.

– Bring your feet up so that your knees are over your hips and bent to 90 degrees.

– Keeping the same pressure of your low back against your fingertips at all times, slowly straighten one leg.

Ideally, you should be able to straighten your moving leg so that your heel ends up just off the floor – again, feeling the exact same pressure of your low back against your fingertips at all times.

A loss of this pressure means you’ve lost control of your abs over the moment arm of the weight of your leg and the pull of your hip flexors.

If this core training exercise is too difficult (meaning you can’t keep the pressure against your fingertips or you can’t breathe normally), shorten the moment arm by NOT bringing your heel as close to the ground.

The key to this exercise – in case you haven’t picked this up yet – is to keep the exact same pressure of your low back against your fingertips at all times. Got it?

Anything else defeats the entire purpose of training your core muscles to stabilize your spine while your legs move.

Give this at-home core training exercise a try, and let me know how you do.


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