The corkscrew exercise is an intermediate-level core strengthening exercise that targets your lower abs, hips and lower back. It involves a twisting movement in your hips that engages your oblique muscles.
This exercise only requires a mat to perform and it is a great challenge for shoulder stability and abdominal work as you rotate the legs opposite a still upper body.
You can get a thicker mat if you have a sensitive back to avoid causing back pains.
The corkscrew exercise is intermediate level although it can be modified to be advanced so it’s more challenging by increasing the range of rotation of your legs.
For beginners, it may be too challenging to do big circle rotations. You can therefore start with small circles and increase the range as you develop strength and endurance for this exercise.
HOW TO DO CORKSCREWS
- For this exercise you will need a mat onto which you will do the exercise. Place your mat on a smooth flat surface where you have enough space to move your legs freely.
- Start by assuming a horizontal position on your back. Your arms should be pressed on the mat with your palms facing the floor at your sides and tuck your shoulder blades in to keep them pressed down.
- Stretch out your legs and keep your heels together. Stretch them up to the ceiling until they form a 90-degree angle with your body make sure your lower back is pushing down on the mat. Ensure you are not in a neutral back position.
- Take a deep breath and engage your abdominal area to avoid a sudden build-up of pressure on your lower back.
- Keep your knees together and slowly start a circular motion with the tips of your toes. Maintain good neck and shoulder stability on the mat and use your arms to balance yourself.
- Exhale for the first half of the circle motion and then breathe in when returning to starting position. Do this for your desired number of reps.
- You can start with small circular motion if you are new to the exercise and progressively increase the range of your circles as your strength and experience increase.
- Remember to also keep your lower back on the floor during the movement with minimal movement of your hips off the floor as well. Keep your core engaged the whole time.
- You can also make the exercise easier by having your arms behind your head, holding something solid will provide stability when you first try the exercise.
WHAT MUSCLES DO CORKSCREWS WORK
ABS AND OBLIQUES
The corkscrew exercise demands you engage your core muscles which will make you feel the main tension of the exercise build up in your core muscles made up of your abs and obliques.
This part of the body plays the key role in supporting the lower back and spine.
You will feel a burn in your core as you do this exercise, this is the movement working your core to burn stubborn belly fat and activate core muscles to boost strength of the core. This plays a key role in improving stability.
HIP AND LEG MUSCLES
You will also feel your hip flexors and hamstrings engaging as you do the exercise. Hip flexors are a muscle group that connects your thighs with hips and plays an important role when you move your legs for waking and kicking.
You’ll feel the impact on these muscles when doing wide and slow circles. Wide circles are however advanced and may prove to be challenging for beginners.
Your hamstrings will also benefit from this exercise since they also help keep the legs suspended in the air. It will also challenge your adductors as you press and hold your legs together
LOWER BACK MUSCLES
These muscles are located just above the glutes. Corkscrews will massage and stretch the lower back.
It will also engage it in keeping the lower body suspended in the air. This will reduce risk of lower back injuries and also help improve your posture.
BENEFITS OF CORKSCREWS
STRENGTHENING THE CORE
The Corkscrew will primarily target your core muscles by engaging them during the movement. It will activate these muscles to boost strength and help build stronger muscles.
It will also help in muscle definition to give you six-pack abs overtime.
Having a strong core means boosted stability and that is exactly what the corkscrew does for your core.
This exercise trains the back to stay straight on the floor which will passively improve your body’s posture. It also serves as a stretch for your lower back and reduces risk of lower back pains.
HELPS BURN FAT
The corkscrew will target your core muscles and burn all the stubborn belly fat around these regions.
ALTERNATIVES TO CORKSCREW
Just like the corkscrew, Russian twists will also isolate and work your core muscles though using rotational movement on the upper body.
For beginners, press your feet into the floor or extend them straight out as you get a feel for the movement. Engage your abdominal and back muscles to twist your upper body from right to left.
You can also add a dumbbell to make it more challenging and after sometime you can also suspend your legs in the air after getting the hang of it.
When done correctly, this exercise will work your abdominals and obliques. While in a horizontal position, press your lower back into the floor and bend knees while keeping feet flat on the floor.
Place hands behind head, interlacing fingers if preferred. Keep elbows wide and gently cradle your head in your hands. Bring your knees up, with shins parallel to the floor, as you lift shoulder blades off the floor.
As you straighten left leg out at about a 45-degree angle, turn your upper body to the right, bringing left elbow toward right knee.
Return to center and repeat for the other side.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DOING THE CORKSCREW
You should draw strength for moving your legs from your core alone. Do not rely on momentum to swing your legs.
Your legs should remain pressed together all throughout this exercise for it to be effective.
Your lower back should remain grounded on the mat during the exercise and should not lift when you move your legs.
When done properly, the corkscrew and its variations can prove to be a very effective exercise especially for your core muscles.
You should however make sure you observe proper form since you can easily cause strain especially on your lower back.
You should take some time to get used to the beginner level variation until you are comfortable before advancing to the more challenging variation.