Your core muscles are everything between your shoulders and hips that stabilize and strengthen your spine and pelvis.
If that word “core” has confused you since its insurgence about two decades ago, here you go, plain and simple. Prior to the core phenomenon, we all spoke a language that was universally understood—we talked about abs.
Nowadays, exercise physiologists prescribe core strengthening exercises. Why? Because they develop the muscles of the body most important for posture, stabilization and pain-free movement. (That’s what the pros call “mobility.”)
This 8-minute workout, consisting of two sets through 6 40-second exercises, will improve your core strength with special focus on the abdominals.
Follow along the 8-Minute Core Challenge with this video
For more core-focused workouts, including plank variations, follow @BrookBenten on Instagram and grind
along with her equipment-free and instantly-accessable IGTV videos.
Exercise 1: V-Ups (Focus: Rectus Abdominis)
Step 1: Lay long on a mat with belly-facing-up (the pros call this “supine”). Arms should be long overhead and legs, squeezed together, straight out with toes pointed.
Step 2*: Raise your arms, torso and one leg in tandem. Bring your hands to touch your foot.
Step 3: Lower down to starting position.
*Make it harder: Lift both arms and both legs.
Exercise 2: Accordion Crunches (Focus: Rectus Abdominis)
Step 1: Draw your knees in toward your tummy and your tummy in toward your legs.
Step 2: Open up to the “hollow rock” position, where your body hovers with shoulders and heels barely off the floor. Glue your mat to the mat. Hold your arms in palms-facing-up (supine) position.
Step 3: Exhale as you return to Step 1.
Exercise 3: Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Step 1: Lean onto one side. (Not directly on your hip bone; turn to the fleshy part of one butt cheek). Bend the top arm and place your hand behind your head. Take the bottom arm out to the side, palm facing-down (prone) for balance.
Step 2: Squeeze both legs together and oblique crunch the legs in toward your torso. Draw your elbow of the top arm in toward the calf of the top leg.
Step 3: Hold momentarily, then extend the legs and lower the torso as you return to the start position.
Exercise 4: Extended Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Step 1: Lean onto one side. Reach the top arm long overhead. Take the bottom arm out to the side, palm facing-down for balance.
Step 2: Squeeze both legs together and oblique crunch the legs in toward your torso. Draw the hand of your top arm in to touch the top leg.
Step 3: Hold momentarily, then return the legs and torso to starting position.
Exercise 5: Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Repeat Exercise 3 on the other side.
Exercise 6: Extended Side Accordion Crunches (Focus: Obliques)
Repeat Exercise 4 on the other side.
Return to the top (Exercise 1) and repeat all exercises for a second set, 40 seconds each.
Bonus Round: If you choose, add a side plank to standard elbow plank as a little extra “umph.” Alternate sides. If you’ve had enough, hang your hat knowing you’ve done plenty of core/ab work in the standard 8-minute prescription.
Cover photo courtesy Brook Benten Jimenez
Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed. is a workout video star and choreographer. Brook’s premium workout videos, which include everything from Step Aerobics to HIIT, are instantly available at www.brookbenten.com/premium-workout-videos.
Brook’s first book, “Sweat Like a Mother” releases this year. It’s full of humor, personal stories, and (many, many!) workouts. Follow her at brookbenten.com or on Instagram to stay abreast of details.