Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. However, aside from the occasional set of sit-ups and push-ups, our core is often neglected.
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen, leading to increased balance and stability for both daily and physical activities. So next time you think about skipping over your core, tack on this circuit workout challenge to the end of your gym session. Your abs will thank you (…later).
Note: this circuit workout is challenging even for the consistent gym-goer! To modify the workout, you can reduce the number of repetitions to 20-30 per exercise, and take a longer break in between sets.
What you’ll need:
An exercise or yoga mat.
Complete 50 reps of each exercise, without any rest in between exercises. After completing one full circuit, rest 60-90 seconds and begin again. Complete a total of 4 circuits.
Exercise 1: Spiderman Plank
- Start in a traditional plank position with your forearms on the ground and your back perfectly straight.
- Bring your right knee towards your right elbow, then return to the plank position.
- Repeat by bringing your left knee toward your left elbow. This completes one rep.
Exercise 2: Butt-ups
- Begin in a traditional plank position with your forearms on the ground.
- Arch your back slightly out, rather than keeping your back completely straight.
- Raise your glutes towards the ceiling, squeezing your abs to close the distance between your ribcage and hips. You will end up in a high bridge position. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement!
- Lower back down slowly to the starting position as you breathe in.
Our Tip: ensure that your back doesn’t dip downwards! If you are having trouble holding the form, come out of the plank, take a short pause, and readjust.
Exercise 3: Scissors
- Start on your back with your arms close to your torso (palms down).
- With a slight bend at the knee, lift your legs up so that your heels are about 6 inches off of the ground. This is your starting position.
- Lift your right leg up to about a 45-degree angle, while your left leg is lowered until the heel is about 2-3 inches from the ground.
- Switch movements by raising your left leg up, and lowering your right leg. Remember to breathe throughout the exercise!
Our Tip: Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise - you should keep your neck neutral (the back of your head resting on your mat, with your gaze to the ceiling) and your back as close to the ground as possible. If you are having trouble doing so, slide your hands palm-down under the small of your back, almost under the top of your glute.
Exercise 4: Windshield Wipers
- Start on your back with your arms extended sideways and palms fixed firmly to the ground (making a “T” shape)
- Lift both legs to the ceiling until your feet are in line with your hips. There can be a slight bend in your knees.
- Keeping your core tight, lower your legs toward the floor on your right, touching the floor with your toes if possible. This move should be slow and controlled!
- Hold the contraction, and then slowly lift the legs upright again.
- Immediately lower the legs to the left side of your body, hold for a few moments, then return to the starting position.
Our Tip: To modify the exercise, you can keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle throughout the exercise (easier), or straighten them as much as possible (more difficult).