Your usual abs workouts might be littered with sit-ups, but Peloton instructor Joslyn Thompson says there are far better ways to work your core.
To help you get more from your training, she's created a routine that will hit all your midsection muscles, bringing with it plenty of health benefits. It exclusively uses bodyweight exercises too, so the only equipment you might want is a yoga mat for some extra grip and cushioning.
"Training your abs includes exercises like sit-ups and V-ups, but by just working your abs you're leaving out movements that will substantially improve your overall performance in training and everyday life," Thompson explains.
"Core training helps stabilize the spine and trunk — the center point from which our movement is generated. If we are able to stabilize well through the trunk we can reduce injury, have greater stability, and move with more efficiency."
Sound good? Then read on to find out how to do the Peloton coach's workout.
Joslyn Thompson's six-move core workout
Perform the six exercises one after the other, completing each one for the number of repetitions or amount of time listed below. Rest for 60 seconds between each move.
You can do this six-move sequence once through for a quick-yet-comprehensive core workout, or repeat it for three total rounds for an extended core strengthening workout.
- Start on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your feet hip width apart.
- Straighten your legs so only your feet and hands are touching the floor.
- Ensure there is a straight line from your ankles, through your knees, hips, and shoulders, all the way to your head.
- Squeeze your bum, retract your shoulder blades as if you are trying to put them in your back pockets and fix your gaze on a point on the floor about one foot in front of you.
- Hold this position for 20-60 seconds.
- For an easier alternative, drop your knees to the ground.
2. Side plank
- Start by lying on your right side with your right elbow tucked in towards your waist,
- Lift your hips up toward the ceiling so you are resting on the outside of your right foot and your right forearm (as pictured above).
- Try to create a straight line between your head, hips and feet.
- Hold this position for 10-45 seconds, then repeat on the other side of your body.
- For an easier alternative, drop your knees to the ground.
3. Standing march
- Stand with your feet underneath your hips and your hands by your ears.
- Lift your right knee up to 90° while keeping your hips square and not letting them move from side to side.
- Hold this position for three seconds, then place your foot down and repeat with the left knee.
- Repeat this six times on each leg.
4. Dead bug
- Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling.
- Raise your knees off the ground so they're at 90° and your calves are parallel with the ground.
- Take a breath in then, as you exhale, keep your left arm straight and lower it to an inch above the floor and straighten your right leg in front of you to an inch above the floor.
- Inhale and return to the start position.
- Repeat using your right arm and left leg.
- Complete six repetitions on each side, alternating the arms and legs you are lowering with each repetition.
5. Bird dog
- Set yourself up on all fours, making sure your back is as flat as possible.
- Take a breath in then, as you exhale, reach your left arm out in front of you and straighten your right leg out behind you, maintaining the neutral (flat) position in your spine.
- Hold this for a second, then inhale and return to the start position.
- Repeat this with your right arm and left leg.
- Continue to alternate until you've completed six repetitions on each side.
6. Russian twist
- Sit on the ground with your legs bent and your feet on the floor.
- Clasp your hands together, lean back so your torso creates a 45° angle with the ground, then lift your toes off the floor so you are resting lightly on your heels.
- Take a breath in then, as you exhale, twist your torso to the right (as pictured above).
- Inhale and return to center, then twist to the left.
- Repeat this for 10 repetitions on each side.
How to get started
To ready you for this session, Thompson has shared her top tips for getting the most out of core workouts. So, whether you're new to core training or a home workout veteran, you're sure to be well-prepared when tackling this routine.
"A big one with core exercises is remembering to breathe," Thompson says. "These movements are challenging, so there can be a tendency for people to hold their breath to get through it.
"If you notice yourself doing that, pause, take a few breaths then start where you left off." She also suggests taking your time with each exercise, rather than rushing through repetitions to get them over with (as tempting as that can be).
"Often, the slower you go the more control you have. You may feel a shaking or shuddering during the exercise; if that becomes excessive or feels uncomfortable, take a rest."
What's wrong with ab workouts?
There are several crucial differences between abs vs core training, with the latter offering a more well-rounded way to work your midsection muscles. Luckily, Thompson's six-move workout bridges the gap between the two.
"Core exercises such as planks and side planks work all the muscles that make up your core, including the muscles of the hips, back and spinal stabilizer muscles," she says.
"We use our core in all movements, so when we train our core we are better equipped to move more efficiently in [multi-muscle] compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and rows."
This also rings true for everyday activities like moving furniture or picking up a box from the ground. Or, in Thompson's words: "A strong core ensures our trunk is supported well under load."
To ease the ache in midsection the following day, it's worth refueling with a post-workout smoothie using one of the best protein powders for weight loss. These help you build lean muscle and recover faster, so you're ready for your next session.
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Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.
Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.
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