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3 easy exercises to target your core

The ultimate exercises for a strong core.
/ Source: TODAY

There are countless health benefits to a strong core — it helps with balance and stability, creates good posture and helps to relieve tension in your back. Plus, it can help you excel in sports and activities like cycling, yoga and more.

Yet, a lot of us tend to get stuck in a rut and perform the same old ab exercises over and over again. Here are three new exercises to help you switch it up and target different ab muscles this week! Watch the video below and read step-by-step instructions below.

1. Mountain climbers

Moutain climbers exercise
Moutain climbers exerciseNathan Congleton/TODAY

Start from a high plank position where your hands are placed directly underneath your shoulders and your feet are shoulder-width apart. Your back should be in a straight line and your core tight. Begin by bringing your right knee up to your chest as quickly as you can, return your right leg and then bring your left knee up as quickly as you can.

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As you alternate bringing each knee up to your chest, this should mimic a running motion. Your back will naturally bend over slightly but try minimize this as much as possible. This will get your heart rate up AND work your core abdominal muscles, each of which are important keys to a toned tummy. Continue to do as many mountain climbers as you can in 30 seconds.

2. Bent knee toe reach

Bent-knee toe reach exercise
Bent-knee toe reach exerciseNathan Congleton/TODAY

Lay on the ground and bring your knees up in the air at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands by each ear, but do not touch your ears or pull on your neck as this can cause neck strain. Begin by extending your right leg up and reaching your left hand to touch your right foot. In order to reach up towards your foot, raise your left shoulder blade off the ground and squeeze your core. This will ensure you engage the left side of your core and oblique muscles.

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Return to the starting position with both legs at a 90-degree angle and your back resting on the ground with hands up at each ear. Repeat on the opposite side by extending your left leg up and reaching up with your right hand, raising only your right shoulder blade off the ground. Remember to breathe in a controlled manner throughout, exhaling each time you reach your hand up to your foot. Continue alternating sides throughout for 30 total reps.

3. Hollow body plank

Ab workout
Nathan R Congleton

Lay on your back with your arms extended above your head and feet extended out as well. There will naturally be a space between your lower back and the ground, but in this move you want to close that space.

Press your lower back to the ground so there is no space. Keep your back flat to the ground throughout. Begin by raising your legs a few feet off the ground and your arms a few feet off the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds and use your core strength to keep your arms and legs up.

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Release back to the starting position after 10 seconds, rest for 5 seconds, then repeat twice. If you're having trouble with this move, you can raise your legs a little higher. The higher your legs are, the easier it is and the lower your legs are, the more difficult it is. Squeezing your inner thighs together will also help you maintain the position. This is one of the most challenging exercises for toned abs and the more you practice, the stronger and more toned your abs will get!

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