Your core muscles are everything between your shoulders and hips that stabilize and strengthen your spine and pelvis. If that word has had you like “what” since its insurgence about two decades ago, there you go, plain and simple. Prior to the core phenomenon, we were all speaking a language that was universally understood- we were talking about abs. Nowadays, exercise physiologists prescribe core strengthening exercises, because they develop the muscles of the body most important for posture, stabilization, and pain-free movement (what the pros call “mobility”). This 8-minute workout, comprised of two sets through 6 40-second exercises, will improve your core strength with special focus on the abdominals.
For more core-focused workouts, including plank variations, join us in following @BrookBenten on Instagram and grinding with her equipment-free and instantly-accessible IGTV videos.
Exercise 1: V-Ups (Focus: Rectus Abdominis)
Step 1: Lay long on a mat with belly-facing-up (the pros call this “supine”). Arms should be long overhead and legs, squeezed together, straight out with toes pointed.
Step 2*: Raise your arms, torso, and one leg in tandem. Bring your hands to touch your foot.
Step 3: Lower down to starting position.
*Make it harder: Choose the variation of lifting both arms and both legs.
Exercise 2: Accordion Crunches (Focus: Rectus Abdominis)
Step 1: Draw your knees in toward your tummy and your tummy in toward your legs.
Step 2: Open up to “hollow rock” position, where your body hovers with shoulders and heels barely off the floor, with back glued to the mat. Hold your arms in palms-facing-up (supine) position.
Step 3: Exhale as you return to Step 1.
Exercise 3: Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Step 1: Lean onto one side (not directly on your hip bone; turn to the fleshy part of one butt cheek). Bend the top arm and place your hand behind your head. Take the bottom arm out to the side, palm-facing-down (prone) for balance.
Step 2: Squeeze both legs together and oblique crunch the legs in toward your torso. Draw your elbow of the top arm in toward the calf of the top leg.
Step 3: Hold momentarily, then extend the legs and lower the torso as you return to starting position.
Exercise 4: Extended Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Step 1: Lean onto one side. Reach the top arm long overhead. Take the bottom arm out to the side, palm-facing-down for balance.
Step 2: Squeeze both legs together and oblique crunch the legs in toward your torso. Draw the hand of your top arm in to touch the top leg.
Step 3: Hold momentarily, then return the legs and torso to starting position.
Exercise 5: Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Repeat Exercise 3 on the other side.
Exercise 6: Extended Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Repeat Exercise 4 on the other side.
Return to the top (Exercise 1) and repeat all exercises for a second set, 40-seconds each.
Bonus Round: If you choose, add a side plank to standard elbow plank as a little extra “umph.” Alternate sides. If you’ve had enough, hang your hat knowing you’ve done plenty of core/ab work in the standard 8-minute prescription.
About Brook Benten Jimenez
Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed. is a workout video star and choreographer. Brook’s premium workout videos, which include everything from Step Aerobics to HIIT, are instantly available at www.brookbenten.com/premium-workout-videos.
Brook’s first book, “Sweat Like a Mother” will release in 2021. It’s full of self deprecating humor, personal stories, and workouts- many workouts! Follow her at on Instagram @BrookBenten to stay abreast of deets.