A strong core will help you succeed at every different kind of workouts, whether it’s running, spinning, CrossFit, boxing, or yoga. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re prioritizing core work in your weekly gym sessions (plus, those sculpted abs aren’t bad motivation either!).
But strengthening up your core doesn’t have to mean that you spend hours doing crunches and planks. In fact, there are a variety of surprising ways to tone your midsection while simultaneously strengthening other muscles, too. Watch this video for a challenging total-body workout from Mahri Relin, founder of Body Conceptions. Bonus: It sneaks core work into every single move.
Don’t have time to watch the whole video? Here’s a rundown of the routine, plus tips on how to maximize each move.
Jumping knee lifts with elbow to knee: Jump from two legs to one with one knee lifting and crossing the chest while reaching the opposite elbow down to touch the knee. Do 4 jumps on one side, then 4 on the other. Alternate sets of jumping knee lifts with 3 different jump twists.
Twist #1. Swing your arms low from side to side with bent elbows while you twist your body in the opposite direction.
Twist #2. Alternate reaching each arm out and up to the ceiling with your body twisting in the opposite direction.
Twist #3. Extend your arms straight forward and out from your body with your wrists flexed, and twist your arms from side to side with your body twisting in the opposite direction.
(try holding small weights or full water bottles)
“Drive the car”: Begin with your arms outstretched while “driving a car” in bigger or smaller circles. Bend your body from side to side with each turn of your arms. Alternate big and small circles with sets of side crunches on one side, then the other.
Side crunch with hip lift: Start with one arm reaching straight up. Pull your elbow down to the side while the same hip lifts to meet the elbow. Repeat 8 times.
Lunge with diagonal arm reaches and toe touches: Start in a deep lunge position with your right leg straight back and your weight pressed forward. Place both hands on your knee, then lift your right arm to cross your chest and touch your elbow to the left knee. Repeat 8 times. Hold both hands in prayer position with your weight remaining forwards as you tap your right foot forward then back into the lunge 8 times. Return to the lunge and repeat the arm cross to the knee 8 times before switching sides.
Wide Second with arm reaches: Start in Wide Second position with the feet a bit wider than hip distance and both legs turned out as you bend down into a squat with the upper body lifted. Start pulsing slightly up and down in this position, first without arms moving, then reaching arms up in a high diagonal. Hold a deep squat as you reach one elbow across your chest towards the opposite knee. Repeat 8 times, then switch arms. Pulse again while slowly lowering arms back down to the sides.
Tap 1: Start in high plank position with both arms straight and wrists directly below the shoulders. Tap the right leg up toward the shoulder outside the right elbow, then back to the plank. Repeat 8 times.
Tap 2: Open the right leg out to the right side. Tap toes across your chest toward the left hand, then return out to the right again. Repeat 8 times.
Tap 3: Start with right leg out to the side. Tap it back toward the other foot and then out the side again. Repeat 8 times. Switch sides.
Rock forward and back with knee pull: Start on your hands and knees with your right leg extended in natural arabesque. Rock your body forward while pulling right knee forward and across your chest. Rock back and extend your leg back to arabesque. Repeat 12 times.
Half plank rock forward with leg lifts: Begin with leg in natural arabesque, then rock your body forward into a half plank position. Keep your body in this position while you pulse your leg up and down, first with a straight leg and then with your leg bent and your knee turned out to the side. Complete both exercises on one leg, then switch sides.