There’s nothing quite as gratifying as finishing off a tough workout by burnin’ out your abs, but there’s no reason you need to hit the floor and hammer out situps to get the definition you’re seeking.
These five core exercises target all the major muscles spanning between your hips and your shoulders, all while offering an extra burst of cardio to torch a few extra calories. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, and cycle through the series two times.
You’ll be done in just five minutes, or if you’re feeling motivated, you can cycle through the routine four times for a 10-minute core workout that’s guaranteed to be effective.
Top 5 Core Exercises
1. Twisting Mountain Climbers
Start in a high plank position, palms under shoulders, legs fully extended. Keeping your core engaged and upper body steady, draw one knee up and across your torso, reaching it toward your opposite elbow as you twist your hips the same direction, engaging your obliques.
Reverse the movement to return your foot to the starting position, but as you do so, hop your opposite foot into the air, drawing it up and across your torso toward your opposite elbow as your first foot returns to the ground.
Continue this movement as fast as you can while maintaining good form, keeping your core engaged, preventing your low back from sagging.
2. SteelBell Slams
Stand with a SteelBell between your legs, feet shoulder-distance apart, knees slightly bent. Engage your core and squat down, pressing your hips back and keeping your chest lifted as you pick up the SteelBell.
Press through your heels to return to standing, and as you do so, lift the SteelBell up over your head in a fluid movement, rising up onto the balls of your feet.
When the SteelBell is lifted over your head, forcefully slam it back to the ground between your feet, tightening your hips, abs and low back as you swing your arms forward and press your hips back to throw the SteelBell to the floor. Immediately squat back down to start another repetition.
3. Suspension Pikes
Set up a suspension trainer so the straps hang about 12 to 18-inches off the floor. Place your feet into the straps so they’re looped around your arch near your ankle and start in a high plank position with your core tight, palms under shoulders. Engage your core to keep your body steady, making sure your low back and hips don’t sag.
From this position, press through your palms and your feet as you lift your hips to the ceiling, drawing the straps closer to your body as you enter a pike position, your body forming an inverted “V,” your arms and legs straight. Carefully reverse the movement and return to the high plank position before continuing.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a SteelBell in at your waist. Bend your knees and press your hips back as you twist your torso to the right, moving the SteelBell down and across your body, reaching it to the outside of your right knee.
Reverse the movement and rise up to standing as you twist your torso up and to the left, swinging the SteelBell across your body until it’s positioned over your left shoulder, your arms fully extended.
Keeping your arms extended, reverse the movement again, your core engaged as you bring the SteelBell in a fluid and controlled motion back across your body until it’s just outside your right knee. Continue on this side for the full 30 seconds. On the second circuit, switch sides.
5. Plank Jacks
Start in a low plank position supported on your forearms and the balls of your feet, your hips aligned between your knees and shoulders. With your core braced to support the effort, forcefully press through the balls of your feet and hop your legs into the air, spreading your legs so your feet land farther apart.
Allow your knees to bend slightly as your feet land to help absorb the impact. Immediately hop your feet back into the air, bringing your legs together. Continue this in-and-out hopping motion, just as if you were performing jumping jacks, for the duration of the exercise.