Got a spare 5 minutes? Strengthen your core with these easy ab exercises
Core strength is about more than looking good.
Working on your abs isn’t all about aesthetics. Because really, fitness is about how you feel, not looking like a Women’s Health cover star.
Having a strong core is fundamental for so many aspects of our everyday lives, whether you’re a hardcore fitness junkie, an athlete or someone who wakes up with back pain (guilty).
Why train your core?
As London-based fitness trainer Eloise Skinner explains, ‘your core is not just the “six-pack” abdominal muscles, but the muscles that support your sides and back.
‘So core strength is not just about abs, but about stabilising and supporting the movements of the spine, preventing neck and back pain and helping with general mobility.’
She tells Metro.co.uk that having a strong core is vital for things like balance, stability and good posture.
‘The inner core muscles support the spine, so developing their strength enables you to sit and stand taller,’ she explains.
‘A strong core also helps to reduce injury risk, improving our stability in the face of unpredictable movements and helping our recovery.’
Try this 5-minute workout for a stronger core
Now, we know what you’re thinking: ‘Better posture and less back and neck pain sounds great, but I simply don’t have time to work out.’
Sorry, but that line isn’t going to cut it anymore – not when Eloise has put together a super fast core workout you can do in five minutes.
Start by quickly warming up your full body, using yoga movements like a forward fold or cat/cow and stretching out your shoulders and neck.
Take a few deep breaths, making sure to engage your diaphragm, and off we go.
Plank, 60 seconds
Place your hands under your shoulders, keep a neutral spine and press firmly down through hands (or forearms if you prefer).
Hold for 60 seconds (or as long as you can.
‘To make it easier, feel free to drop your knees, but make sure to maintain the same spinal alignment,’ says Eloise.
Side plank, 30 seconds each side
Rotate to one side with a hand under your shoulder for support.
Come on to the outside edge of one foot, lifting your hips.
Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
Remember to keep your hips lifted and avoid dumping pressure into your wrist.
Bird-dog, 60 seconds
From an all-fours position, extend your right leg and left arm, keeping your back in neutral.
Hold for a moment, trying to extend your body as much as possible, and then switch sides.
Repeat with holds of around 10 seconds, for one minute in total.
Leg Raises, 60 seconds
Lie on your back and keep your spine neutral.
Lift one leg up to the ceiling in a straight line, and then lower down with control. Repeat with the other leg.
After a few rounds of single legs, try both together.
Make sure not to allow your lower back to arch – you can hold on to something stable behind you for support.
Bridge, 60 seconds
As a cool-down activity, lie on your back and bend both knees in line with your hips and feet.
Place your hands by your sides with your palms down.
Raise your hips to the ceiling, trying to articulate one vertebrae at a time as you go.
At the top, engage your core by scooping your lower abs up towards your ribcage, and squeeze your glutes.
Lower down in the same way you went up and repeat for 60 seconds.
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