Looking for a core workout can be overwhelming with all the fancy tools, confusing moves and impossibly long workouts available online and elsewhere. However, the best way to gain core strength and stability is consistency. That comes from small, approachable steps.
This program goes back to the basics, starting small and building daily like a game of “add-ons.” On Day 1, you’ll master a plank, the foundation of core strength. Every day, a new exercise is added to the program to challenge the core functionally in all planes of movement.
Complete 30 seconds of each exercise, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of two rounds. Make sure to perform reps on both sides of your body during unilateral exercises (ex: side planks or bird dogs). This can be done as a stand-alone workout or placed at the end of your regularly scheduled exercise session.
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The Move: For maximum strength and endurance gains, hold tighter, more active planks for a shorter period. With your forearms on the ground and elbows directly under your shoulders, brace every muscle in your body (especially your glutes!), and hold a perfectly straight line from your head to your heels for 30 seconds.
Level up: While holding the plank, slightly lift one leg at a time.
Level down: The plank can be done from the knees. Ensure your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees while holding this kneeling plank position.
The Move: Place your right forearm on the ground with your elbow directly under your right shoulder and align that shoulder with your right hip and heel. With a very tight and braced core, push the ground away from you and press up into a straight line from your head to your heels, staying active in your shoulder joint. Your feet can be stacked or staggered, with the top foot in front of the bottom, pressing the blades of the feet into the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat on the left side.
Level up: Add leg raises with the top leg.
Level down: Perform this exercise as a side bridge from the knees instead of the feet.
The Move: The bird dog is a co-contraction of one leg and the opposite arm in the quadruped position. Begin on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Gently brace your core as you simultaneously raise your right arm straight in front of you and your left leg straight out behind you. Pause when your arm and leg make a straight line, and then bring them slowly back down to the starting position. Repeat with the left arm and right leg.
Level up: Try adding a resistance band or ankle/wrist weights.
Level down: Keep your hand and leg closer to the ground.
The Move: Lie flat on your back and extend your arms straight up toward the sky. Lift your legs off the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. While keeping your core braced and your lower back pushed into the floor, lower your right arm and left heel toward the floor. Lightly touch the floor with your hand and heel, and then slowly return them to the starting position. Repeat with the left arm and right heel.
Level up: Complete the same movement with straight legs, ensuring your back does not arch up off the floor.
Level down: Begin with your feet planted on the ground. Focus on lifting and lowering one leg at a time while keeping your core strong and braced.
The Move: Start in a high plank position, keeping your ears, hips, knees and heels in a straight line. With minimal movement or rotation, drop down to your right forearm, followed by your left. While maintaining a tight midsection, return to the high plank, one arm at a time. Repeat by lowering the left forearm first, followed by the right. Switch lead arms during the 30-second work periods.
Level up: Balance a light weight or yoga block on your back and don’t let it fall off.
Level down: Perform this move from your knees.
The Move: Begin by lying on your back with your arms overhead. While keeping your spine neutral and core braced, simultaneously raise the lower and upper body off the floor, hinging into a “V” position. Return to the floor with control, and repeat.
Level up: Place a small ball between your legs and pass it from your legs to your hands on the top of each repetition.
Level down: Perform this movement so you come into a tuck position on top. (See above.)
The Move: Begin on your hands and knees. Elevate your knees about 2 inches off the ground. Simultaneously move your right hand and left foot forward in a crawling motion, keeping your hips lower than your shoulders. Then, move your left hand and right foot forward. Depending on space, move about 10 paces forward, followed by 10 paces back.
Level up: Move faster.
Level down: Slow it down and take the crawl step by step.
For more fitness inspiration, check out “Workout Routines” in the app to discover and log a wide variety of routines by performance specialists. Or build your own routine with exercises that fit your goals.