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Core crushers: Our favorite 3 exercises to work your entire ab region

/ Source: TODAY

Athletes aren't the only ones in need of a strong core. Nearly everything you do throughout the day, from lifting your kids up and out of a grocery cart to carrying those same groceries up a flight of stairs, requires a strong core.

The way I see it, core muscles act like a girdle by keeping everything in place as your arms and legs "do their thing." In this way, strengthening your core muscles also protects your spine.

But crunches aren’t really enough. You need to work your entire core. Try following exercises to make it happen:

Side planks

Jenna Wolfe workout gif
Jenna Wolfe workout gif

Lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of each other and prop yourself up on your forearm; your elbow should be directly below your shoulder. Bring your other arm up and overhead, palm facing forward, fingertips towards the ceiling. Raise your body up until you form a straight line, shoulder, hip, and ankle should align. Hold for 20 or more seconds and slowly lower back down and switch sides. Repeat for 2 to 3 sets.

Side plank with dips

Jenna Wolfe workout gifBrandon Goodwin

Start in a side plank position, but instead of raising up your hips and holding the position, lower and raise them up and down from the floor for 15 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat for 2 to 3 sets.

Plank knee to elbow

Jenna Wolfe workout gif.Brandon Goodwin

Start in a traditional plank position, on forearms and propped up on the balls of your feet, making sure your body forms a straight line (avoid hiking up your hips or allowing them to sag!). Keeping your body as stable as possible by engaging and tightening your core, alternately bring up your right knee towards your right elbow and your left knee towards your left elbow. Repeat for 15 or more reps each side (or as many as you can do in good form). Rest a minute and repeat for 2 to 3 sets.

Include these at the end of your workout along with your ab exercises for your strongest core ever!