Developing a six-pack can be part of your motivation to train your abs, but strengthening your core has a wide array of benefits, from preventing back pain to helping you perform strength training movements like squats and deadlifts.
It's also worth noting that there are a whole host of different muscles that make up the core. So, even if you're regularly hitting sit-up heavy sessions, it’s impossible to target them all if you limit yourself to one or two movements. This is why it’s important to add a variety of core exercises into your weekly workout plans.
This workout from fitness coach Ella-Mae Rayner incorporates seven exercises that will engage a range of core muscles to boost your strength, coordination, balance, and promote circulation.
You can use Rayner's demonstrations to take note of her form, which is particularly important with movements like these to ensure you don’t put unnecessary pressure on your lower back. Once you've got the technique, you're ready to start.
Rayner recommends performing each exercise back to back without a break. After you've finished all seven, rest for 90 seconds then start the circuit again. Once you've finished four rounds, the workout is complete.
Watch Ella Mae Rayner's seven-move core workout
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Several of the exercises in this session see you assume a hollow hold, which is a favorite among gymnasts for developing their core. To get into this position, lie on your back with your legs together, extending straight out in front of you, and your arms reaching above your head.
Then, maintaining tension throughout your body, lift your thighs and shoulders off the floor to form a shallow dish shape. Much like a plank, this position will work your midsection muscles hard, helping to build positional strength and stability.
This session is pretty advanced, so if you’re new to ab training, try these ab workouts for beginners first. Or if you’re short on time, try this upper-body workout which will simultaneously engage the core and your arms.
Of course, these aren't the only way to strengthen your mid-section. If workouts aren't your thing, you can use these core yoga poses to develop the connection between your upper and lower body instead.
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Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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