Contrary to popular belief, core exercises aren’t just for obtaining flat tummies or washboard abs (although, those are much appreciated side-benefits). Improving your core strength helps with balance and stability and trains your torso muscles to work together. What does this mean for you? Well, stronger core muscles make most, if not all, physical activities easier – including practicing your golf swing or reaching up to grab a dish off the top shelf.
To strengthen these muscles, you’re probably picturing an hour long training session including sit-ups or all manner of abdomen equipment – we know we were. But, we chatted with our exercise physiologists at OhioHealth McConnell Heart Health Center for suggestions when short on time, and they recommended this awesome 15-minute core blast.
Bird Dog from Feet and Hands
- Place your hands and knees on the floor in a table-top position. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders, maintaining a neutral spine.
- Extend your right arm and left leg out and parallel to the floor.
- Hold for a few seconds and return to starting position.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Engage your core by pulling belly button in and up, as if zipping up a tight pair of pants.
- Lift one leg and bring the other leg up so your hip and knee is bent 90 degrees.
- Straighten and lower one leg until it is near the floor.
- Bring it back as you straighten the opposite leg.
- Continue alternating legs, keeping your core engaged and still. Remember not to hold your breath.
Side Plank with Reach Around
- Lie on your side with your bottom elbow on the floor.
- Raise your hips so that they’re off the ground and your body forms a straight line from your ankles to shoulders.
- Extend your top arm laterally so that it is perpendicular to the floor.
- Reach under and past your hips with your top hand, keeping your torso stable.
- Then reverse the motion back to starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
Plank with Toe Tap
- Position yourself in a plank on your forearms and feet – with your elbows under your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure you keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Extend one foot out to the side, keeping your leg straight and tap your toe to the ground.
- Bring that foot back to the body.
- Repeat on the other leg, alternating legs. Only move your lower body – your hips, waist, shoulders and head should remain still for the whole exercise.
Single Leg Jack Knife
- Lay with your back flat on the floor.
- Lift your right leg off the ground and bring your arms forward as you use your core to lift your upper body off the ground.
- Hold, then lower yourself back down.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
Side Plank with Hip Dip
- Lay on your side with your knees bent and your feet behind you.
- Position your elbow directly under your shoulder with your forearm flat on the floor.
- Place your other hand on your hip.
- Engage your core muscles and lift your body off the floor into side plank position.
- Lower hips back to floor without rotating forward or back.
- Repeat on the other side, keeping your core engaged for the entire exercise.