Many of us are motivated to do core exercises by the promise of a flatter, more toned stomach — but physical appearance is far from the most important reason to strengthen your midsection.
Your core encompasses the hips, back and abdominal muscles — and because the core is at the center of your body, it’s especially important to work on improving strength there. A strong core means better stabilization, balance and support in everyday life, making injuries less likely. Research shows that core stability training is effective in preventing shoulder and knee injury, and it can also alleviate chronic lower back pain. With a stronger core, your body becomes more stable, making you less likely to fall or rely on other muscles for strength.
Not to mention that a strong core supports good posture and strengthens the muscles that are affected by sitting all day — something most of us could benefit from.
A 30-day core workout for June
This core routine will improve your balance and stability while simultaneously toning the muscle regions that make up the center of your body. By the end of the month, you should feel a real difference in the strength of your core — and yes, you could even notice a flatter stomach!
This monthly workout plan is divided into two routines. The first is “Core Basics.” These are basic Pilates-based exercises hit your core from all angles. The second routine is “Killer Core,” which uses more advanced exercises to strengthen your abs and other areas that support your core, including the back, glutes and hips. Take rest days and walks where indicated, and remember to keep your core engaged by pulling your belly button in towards your spine even while walking or sitting at your desk!
Day 1: Core Basics
Day 2: Walk
Day 3: Core Basics
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Core Basics
Day 6: Walk
Day 7: Killer Core
Day 8: Rest
Day 9: Core Basics
Day 10: Walk
Day 11: Killer Core
Day 12: Rest
Day 13: Killer Core
Day 14: Walk
Day 15: Core Basics
Day 16: Walk
Day 17: Core Basics & Killer Core
Day 18: Rest
Day 19: Killer Core
Day 20: Walk
Day 21: Core Basics & Killer Core
Day 22: Rest
Day 23: Core Basics
Day 24: Walk
Day 25: Core Basics & Killer Core
Day 26: Walk
Day 27: Core Basics & Killer Core
Day 28: Rest
Day 29: Core Basics & Killer Core
Day 30: Walk
Circuit 1: Core basics
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Make sure your feet are open as wide as your hips. Reach your arms down towards your feet and rest them on the ground at your sides. Take a deep breath. As your stomach rises, feel your lower back arch slightly off of the ground. Then exhale as you tilt your pelvis under and forward and press your lower back into the ground. Pull your navel in towards your spine as if you’re zipping into a tight pair of pants. Release and repeat 10 times.
Pilates ab crunch
Come into the pelvic tilt position from the exercise above. From this position with your lower back pressed into the ground, place your hands behind your head with your elbow extended out to the side. Exhale as you curl up with your head, neck and chest. Pretend that you’re holding an egg in between your chin and your chest that you don’t want to crack. Then gently pulse upwards 10 times. Rest and repeat 3 times.
Lie on your back with your head resting on the floor. Keep your arms straight down at your sides with your palms on the floor and bend your knees so that your heels are directly under your knees. Slowly raise your hips in the direction of the ceiling by curling up your low back, middle back and then upper back, squeezing your glutes at the top. Once you’re up in the air, take a deep breathe in. Then, exhale as you slowly roll down one vertebra at a time. Rest your hips on the mat for a few seconds then repeat. Perform 10 repetitions.
Get into a pushup position with your shoulders over your wrists. Pull your abs in as you tuck your toes under to reach your heels towards the back of the room. Make sure your butt isn’t sticking up in the air; maintain a straight line from your heads to your heels. Pull your belly button in towards your spine and think about pushing the ground away from you. Breathe here for 10 seconds. Release and repeat 5 times.
Standing side crunch
Work the obliques and waist while standing with this exercise. Place your hands on your head with the elbows wide and open the feet as wide as the hips. Lift your left knee out to the side and up towards the ceiling while crunching the left elbow down towards the left knee. You’ll feel a crunch on the left side waist. Repeat this 10 times, and then switch to the right.
Circuit 2: Killer core
This exercise works the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Stand with your feet as wide as your shoulders, toes pointing forward. Pull your navel in towards your spine, and then sit back by bending at your knees and reaching your glutes back as if you’re sitting into a chair. Press down through your heels and return to standing. For a modification, squat only half way down. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
Standing diagonal cross
Work the internal and external obliques in this standing exercise. Reach the arms up overhead and reach to the left as you step the right foot out to the same side. Then cross the right knee towards the midline of the body and bring the arms down to meet the right knee. Touch the knee and then return the arms and foot back to the starting position. Repeat this 10 times, and then switch sides.
Starting in a plank position (either on your toes, or on your knees for a modification), lower down onto your right forearm and then your left forearm. Now you are in a forearm plank. Then, press down through your right palm and then your left palm to return to a high plank. Repeat this 5 times with your right hand leading, and then 5 times with your left hand leading.
From a plank position, turn your body to the left, balancing on your right forearm, and reach your left arm up to the sky. Stack your feet on top of each other, and pull your right side up away from the ground to work the entire right side of your body. Come back to plank. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
Ab curl hollow hold
Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs reaching straight up towards the ceiling. Then, exhale as you pull your navel in towards your spine, and slowly lower the arms behind you and the legs in front of you. Lower the arms and legs as low as far as you can without allowing your lower back to arch. Hold this for 5 seconds, then come back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.