Whatever the season, there's no denying the benefit of a strong core. And while a sculpted six-pack is about as coveted to the average woman as finding a partner who will look at her the way Justin Timberlake looks at Jessica Biel, there are a slew of other benefits to having a powerful midsection. A solid set of muscles will help you perform virtually every movement from standing properly to carrying your purse or grocery bag up a flight of stairs. Plus, it can help stave off pain in other areas of the body, like your shoulders, hips, and back.
Newsflash: you can build core strength on your own, no equipment required. Here, Alex Silver-Fagan, Nike master trainer, offers up her 10-minute, no-equipment workout that'll give you abs of steel in no time.
Do each exercise for 40 seconds, resting 20 seconds between each. Repeat the sequence once.
Plank to Pike
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Do not allow your lower back to arch. Keep your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
- On an exhale, pull your abs deeply to your spine and use your abs to fold your body in half, shifting forward slightly onto your toes as your glutes raise into the air. Your back will become perpendicular to the floor like a handstand. Allow your head to fall between your arms, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.
- Lower yourself back into a plank position and do not allow your pelvis to sag below your shoulders for one rep. Repeat.
- Lie face up with arms and legs extended and resting on the floor. Keep abs tight and lift your right hand to meet your left toe above your torso.
- Lower your arm and leg back to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side for one rep. Continue, alternating sides.
Side Plank With Knee Drive
- Begin in a side elbow plank with your left arm down and your right hand extended above your head, bicep by the ear.
- Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow. Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Do this for 40 seconds; repeat on the opposite side.
Bear Plank With Shoulder Tap
- Start in a tabletop position. Engage your core and lift your knees to hover one inch above the ground.
- Keeping your hips level, tap your right hand to your left shoulder. Slowly lower back to start.
- Repeat on the opposite side for one rep. Continue, alternating sides.