Many abdominal workouts focus exclusively on your six-pack, but in truth, your core is 360 degrees of muscle, tendon and ligament encircling your middle. When we talk about the core, we’re referring to your abs, your hips and your lower back — foundational elements for strength and power. Additionally, tightening and trimming this crucial girdle can add symmetrical curves to your torso, make your shoulders appear larger and even help you fit into smaller-sized clothing! Incorporate these three moves into your weekly programming or add them as a stand-alone workout for three sets of 12 to 15 reps at the end of another bodypart.
Setup: Lie faceup with your legs extended straight up over your hips, perpendicular to the floor, and your hands placed by your sides. Allow your shoulders to lift off the ground slightly without losing neutral spinal alignment — in other words, don’t jut your head forward like a turtle; think of keeping a “double chin” throughout the exercise.
Move: Keeping your legs together and straight, slowly lower them until they are about 6 to 12 inches off the ground, then lift them slowly back up.
Do it right: When your back begins to arch off the floor, you’ve reached your lowering limit.
Side Plank Hip Hike
Setup: Lie on your side with your legs and ankles stacked. Place your elbow directly underneath your shoulder and come up onto that arm. Lift your hips in line with your head and feet to come into side plank, opposite hand on your hip.
Move: From here, lift your hips toward the sky as high as you can. Pause, then return to neutral in side plank. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Do it right: To maintain your form, do these in front of a mirror and make sure you’re not going too low on the return to the starting plank position.
Setup: Lie faceup with your legs straight up over your hips, perpendicular to the floor. Place your hands by your sides and flex your feet, bending at the ankles and moving your toes toward your shins (called dorsiflexion).
Move: Keeping your legs as straight as possible, drive your heels straight up toward the ceiling, lifting your lower body and hips off the ground a few inches. Don’t allow your feet to move toward your head; they should only move straight up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower to the start one vertebra at a time and repeat right away.
Do it right: With each rep as your hips leave the ground, press into the floor with your hands to maintain balance and control.