To build a strong core, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym daily. By simply dedicating 12 minutes to your health with these straightforward core strengthening exercises, you can achieve a stable and supported midsection and set yourself on the path toward six-pack abs.
Strengthening your core will improve your overall health and support your upper body as it grows stronger. You’ll also develop greater body control that can be applied to sports, running, and other athletic activities. Developing your core means focusing on more than just your abs; you must also work your sides, glutes, and back.
If you’re struggling to get a solid core workout every day, don’t worry. This core strength sequence only takes 12 minutes and is built around body-positive yoga poses that can eliminate strain and restore youth and longevity to your back and abdomen. Within just a few weeks, you’ll see the difference and be back into the exercise routine.
Core exercises can be divided into two categories—stabilizing and dynamic motions. Stabilizing exercises force you to be tense and strengthen your core by holding your abdomen and pelvis in place. Dynamic motions challenge your core by flexing and relaxing the muscles with each repetition.
Let’s start with three isometric stabilizing exercises and then move on to five more expressions to tighten and strengthen your midsection.
This first pose is a standard plank. Lay on your belly and slide your arms forward until you’re in a sphinx pose. Next, tuck the toes under your feet, preparing for a plank. Then, with your legs straight and strong, pull up through your abdomen until you’re in a plank.
Be sure to keep tucking up through your hips and pull your chest forward until your body is in a straight line. Next, activate your tailbone and lower belly to extend the hold throughout your core. Hold the pose for at least five breathes and no more than 15. Then, lower back down into the sphinx pose and rest for 5 breathes.
Side Plank Pose
While laying on your belly, push up into a standard push-up position. Bring your feet together behind you, and then roll onto the outer right side of your heel. Your left foot should rest on top of the right, and your torso should face outward. Raising your right hand to the sky and hold the pose for five breaths.
You should feel the pose stretch and strengthen your side abdominals. If not, pull up further through your ribs until they activate. After five breaths, lower back down and rotate to the other side. Roll onto your left heel and reach up through your left hand. Take five long, slow breathes and then lower back down.
Upward Plank Pose
For this final plank pose, we’ll roll over onto our backs and position our hands beneath our shoulders. Lift through your hips without thrusting too high until your body looks like a table or a desk. Press down through your feet and hands without dumping tension into your shoulders. Your fingers and toes should face outward.
If this pose is too difficult, you can flex your knees or slide your heels closer to your hands to reduce the tension throughout your core. Try to hold the position for at least five breaths and no more than 15.
Now that we’ve completed a quick run of planks let’s move on to some active dynamic motions.
Get down on your hands and knees in an all-fours position. Extend your left hand forward and your right foot back until they pull in opposite directions. Once they’ve reached their maximum extension, pull in and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Feel the crunch and then reach back out. Complete between 5 and 15 repetitions and then switch to the other side.
Half Bow-Half Locust Pose
Lay on your belly and reach your right hand back to grab your right foot. Hold the foot itself or grab your ankle. Then, pull back through your right shin and arch your back and stomach until you look like a bow. Stretch your other left hand out in front of you. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breathes and then switch to the other side.
Twisting Boat Pose
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you, extend your arms forward, and bend your knees upward until your torso resembles a V. This posture is known as Watercraft Pose. Now, reach your right hand back until it cannot go any further. Then, return to the front and repeat on the other side. Repeat the motion 5 to 15 times on both your left and right side.
Listing Boat Pose
With your body still in Watercraft Pose, rock your body to one side, making sure to engage your core so that you don’t fall over. You should feel the muscles in your side abdominals flex, as well as in your glutes. Take 5 to 10 breathes and then repeat on the opposite side.
For this last exercise, lay on your back and tuck your heels in as close to your hips as possible. Lift one foot and rest your ankle on the opposite knee. Then, with your hands by your sides, lift through your hips and thrust towards the ceiling. You’ll feel your hamstrings engage and hold the pose for 5 to 15 breathes. Repeat on the opposite side.
As you can see, these exercises are designed for real people. You don’t need a partner to hold your feet and can quickly complete the series in a matter of minutes. If any of the poses are too complex, adjust to your needs. Always listen to your body and never push past what you’re comfortable doing.