Who doesn’t want a tight and toned core, and perhaps abs that pop? In addition to looking great, a strong core really cuts down on back soreness and aches and pains, so core training isn’t just vanity, it’s healthy!
Here are some of our favorite core-strengthening exercises to get you baring your belly and standing straighter than ever.
Move Targets: Lower lumbar muscles and abdominals
Step 1: Start by lying face down and extending your arms out in front of you.
Step 2: Press your shoulder blades together and lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor.
Step 3: Hold position for 60 seconds, keeping your head up and your arms extended out in front of you.
Modification (Beginner): Lift just your legs and chest for 30 seconds and then lift just your arms for 30 seconds.
2. Bicycle Crunches
Move Targets: Abdominals, hip flexors and gluteus
Step 1: Lie on back with knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Place hands behind your head. Exhale as you lift head and shoulders off the floor. Twist torso to the right, bringing left shoulder in to touch your right knee. Keep left leg straight and lifted off the floor.
Step 2: Inhale as you slowly lower. Repeat, twisting torso to the left. Continue alternating sides for 60 seconds.
Modification (Beginner): Feet can return to the floor after each rep.
3. Toe Touch
Move Targets: Core
Step 1: Lie on your back, extend your arms and lift your legs until your heels are facing the ceiling.
Step 2: Keeping your legs straight, lift your shoulders off the floor and try to touch your feet. Repeat this move for 60 seconds. Make sure you’re using your core to lift your shoulder blades off the mat. If you feel the strain in your neck, you need to focus the movement in your core.
4. Wood Choppers
Move Targets: Shoulders and Core
Step 1: Hold the med ball or weight in both hands and bring it to one side of your body as you come into a half squat. Your chest and shoulders and turn toward the ball, but your hips and knees will face forward.
Step 2: Come out of the squat as you bring the weight diagonally across the body. The weight should be higher than your head at full extension. Keep your elbows soft and your hips facing forward. This will protect the knees and lower back from unnecessary twisting.
Step 3: Bring the ball back to the starting point without bending the elbows. This means the weight stays an arm’s-distance away from you at all
5. Boat Pose
Move Targets: Upper/lower abdominal muscles
Step 1: Have a seat on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lean your upper body back to about a 45-degree angle. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
Step 2: Pick your feet up off the floor and try to extend your legs so they are straight. Extend the arms so your hands graze the sides of your knees. Hold this pose.
Modification (Advanced): Pulse your arms up and down.
Pick your feet up off the floor and try to extend your legs so they are straight. Extend the arms so your hands graze the sides of your knees. Hold this pose.
6. Glute Bridge:
This move will ensure that your hamstrings and glutes are feeling the burn as well as your abs!
Move Targets: Gluteus, hamstring and abdominal muscles
Step 1: Lie face up with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart and arms by sides with palms down.
Step 2: Slowly lift your hips off the ground until you form a diagonal line from knees to shoulders. Try to keep your abs tight as you lift your hips higher. Raise butt as high up as you can, keeping your glutes squeezed tight. Hold for a 5 count and lower back down to mat.
Modification (beginner): Lower the height of your lift.
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