No Sit-Ups Required: 5 Exercises for a Strong Core
We’ve all done it. We’ve spent hours on the floor, doing sit up after sit up, only to look down and not even see a glimmer of a six-pack. Well, that’s because we’ve been going about it all wrong. Doing the same movement over and over again can lead to plateaus but it’s also not functional. Using a mix of exercises will increase mobility and strength and work your abs without thinking about it. Here are a few simple exercises that will take your midsection from flab to fab in just a few minutes per day.
The Pilates 100: Joseph Pilates really nailed it with this core-exhausting move
- Place your mat on the floor
- Lie down with a straight back and bend your knees into your chest
- Raise your arms up to the sky with your palms facing away from you
- Take a deep breath in and lift your head and shoulders off the mat
- Bring your arms down by your side
- Pump your arms six inches up and down, as vigorously as possible. Make sure to extend your arms and fingertips and reach as much as possible
- Don’t forget to breathe! Try and inhale for five pumps and then exhale for five pumps
- Keep your lower abs pulled in and your core tight
- Repeat ten times
Leg Lifts: There are many versions of the leg lift, but this is one of my favorites. You can do this virtually anywhere from a bench at the gym, to a chair at the office.
- Sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight
- Place your hands at the edge of the chair with our fingers pointing in the direction of your knees.
- Engage your core and raise your toes about four inches off the floor and then tap them back down on the floor
- Repeat this movement for about one minute
The Prone Plank: This is a BOGO move as you work your arms and your core at the same time. Multitasking at it’s finest.
- Place your mat on the floor and get into a full push up position
- Make sure your palms are aligned with your shoulders and that your core is tight
- You should be perfectly aligned from your head all the way down your spine
- Hold for one minute
Opposite Arm-Leg Reach: This is a great one not only for your core but also for flexibility!
- Lie down on your mat, facing up
- Bend your left knee with your left foot flat on the floor
- Extend your right leg up towards the ceiling
- Keep your right arm at your side
- Reach up with your left arm and extend it towards the ceiling
- Stabilize your hips and your shoulders, squeeze your core, then move your raised leg out and in
- At the same time, move your raised arm out and in
- Do twelve reps of these and then repeat on the other side
Donkey Kickbacks: This move is a doozy for your abs and your booty!
- Place your mat on the floor
- Get down on all fours with a neutral back and your toes tucked under
- Tighten your core and lift both knees about two inches off the ground
- Bring your right knee to your nose and then kick your right straight out behind you
- Squeeze your glutes as you bring your leg back to make sure you’re working your butt along with your abs
- Repeat 10 times and then switch to the other side