Maintaining a strong core is one of the most important components of fitness, but it’s about more than showing off a toned midsection. Your core is your support system for explosive, powerful movements, and a strong core enhances stability and balance.
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These five simple moves will keep your abs in perfect shape, while giving your other major muscle groups a workout, too.
Incorporate them into your existing routine, or perform then as follows for a total-body workout that will shred your core.
1. Bicycle Crunch
- Start on your back with your legs up in the air at a 90-degree angle, and your lower legs parallel to the ground.
- Pull your abdominal muscles in, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground by contracting your abs.
- Put your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side, making sure not to pull on your head or neck.
- Alternate extending each leg out straight while pulling the other knee in close to your chest.
- Rotate your upper body with each rep, bringing your opposite elbow in to meet your knee.
- Continue for one minute.
2. Donkey Kick
Donkey kicks are a great glute workout while still working your core.
- Start on your hands and knees, with your hands positioned shoulder-width apart and your lower back in a neutral position.
- Bring your right knee up and into your chest, then extend it back out directly behind you to form a straight line with your back.
- Make sure the rest of your body stays stationary without moving to compensate for the motion of your leg.
- As you extend your leg, squeeze your glute muscles.
- Bring your knee back to your chest without touching it to the ground, and repeat the motion 15 times before switching to the other leg. Aim for three sets of 15 on each leg.
- To more significantly engage your core and challenge yourself, try changing this exercise so neither of your knees touch the ground.
3. Scale Pose
To perform this yoga pose also known as “Tolasana,” start by sitting on a mat with your feet straight out in front of you.
- Put your right foot up on your left thigh, then put your left leg on your right thigh, to form a tight sitting position (this requires some flexibility).
- Place your hands flat on the ground at your sides, then use your abdominal muscles to lift yourself up into the air.
- Keep your back straight and hold the position for at least five seconds before slowly exhaling and lowering yourself back down.
- This exercise will help you develop core strength and improve your concentration. Try to hold the pose for up to 30 seconds. Do three sets.
The king of all core exercises, the plank, works your abs and engages many other muscle groups.
- Start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, then extend your legs back one at a time until you’re in push-up position.
- Keep your back straight and in line with your legs to form a line, making sure you don’t sag.
- Hold this position for 60 seconds or as long as you can. Do three sets.
5. Bodyweight Squat
Bodyweight squats target the glutes and hamstrings, but are also a great core-stabilizing move.
- Start by standing with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly angled out.
- Squat down, sticking your butt back so your knees stay above your ankles, and keeping your chest out and shoulders back.
- Lower yourself until your legs form a 90-degree angle, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat 15 times for three sets.