When you’re doing core exercises, you should incorporate moves that focus on core stability, which not only strengthen your abs but also helps your functional movement and balance.
This circuit of core exercises, created by Kara Miklaus, NASM-certified trainer and co-owner of in Irvine, California, includes moves that focus on stability as well as core mobility, which force your core muscles to actually create the movement.
“Incorporating all of these exercises into a core routine targets your core muscles in all 360 degrees because your low back, transverse abs, obliques, and rectus abdominus are working for stabilize or mobilize your muscles,” Miklaus explains. “Both of which are needed for muscular endurance and strength.”
How to do it: Perform the circuit below for a total of 3 rounds, which should take about 15 minutes. For beginners, perform 10 reps on each side for each exercise. As you get stronger work up to 15 reps each side for each exercise, and for advanced variations, challenge yourself to complete 3 rounds of 20 reps on each side for each exercise within the 15-minute timeframe. An exercise mat is optional. Each exercise is demonstrated by , NASM-certified trainer, so you can learn proper form.
[ for more amazing at-home workouts!]
Start on all fours, knees under hips and shoulders over wrists. Keeping back flat, extend left arm and right leg straight out. Draw left elbow and right knee toward each other, hovering just above the floor. Repeat on the other side (right arm and left leg), and continue alternating.
For more of a challenge, you can start the move from a plank, as demonstrated below.
T-Arm Russian Twist
Start in a seated position with heels on the ground and knees bent. Hold both hands out in front of you. Open your left arm until it is slightly past your shoulder, and twist torso to the left to follow your arm, but keep the rest of your body stable. Contract through your abdominals while keeping chest lifted to achieve balance on your tailbone. Return to center and repeat on the right side.
3-Rep Bicycle Crunch
Lie faceup with both hands behind head, legs bent, and feet flat on floor. Lift right shoulder off mat to bring right elbow toward left knee, while extending right leg straight. Pause, and rotate so your right elbow comes toward your knee, and again so your left elbow comes to your knee. Reverse to draw left elbow to right knee as you extend left leg straight. Repeat the 3-rep crunch on the right, then continue to alternate.
Side Plank With Foot Stamp
Start in a side forearm plank with left elbow under shoulder, left forearm flat, right arm extended straight up, and feet staggered. Lift left foot, bending knee to step it in behind right foot. Reverse the move to extend left foot out in front of right foot. That’s one rep. Remember to keep core engaged throughout to prevent hips from dipping or swaying.
Side Plank Hand-to-Foot Reach
Start in side plank position with right forearm on ground, forming a straight line from your head to your feet, feet stacked on top of each other, and hips high off the ground. Kick top foot (left foot) out in front of you and reach left hand to top of left foot. Return to starting position. That’s 1 rep. Complete reps then repeat on other side (side plank with left forearm on ground, reaching right hand to right foot).