The 5-Minute Ultimate Core Workout
That's why we love this strengthening and shaping workout from instructor Maryanne Blake, based on her hot ZenCore class. Each move challenges your core—those crucial ab and back muscles you call on every time you turn, bend, lift, you name it—while sculpting other muscle groups, too.
The 5-Minute Ultimate Core Workout
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To shore up your core, plus tighten you up all over, pick an upper-body, lower-body and mid-section move and perform the trio twice, 3 to 4 times a week.
Upper body: Push-up alternating knee tap
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Start in the "up" part of push-up, with your hands directly under shoulders and your body straight.
Engage your core and bend your elbows to lower your body toward floor. Press back up, bring your left knee to outside of left elbow. Pause for two seconds, then return to the starting position.
Do another push-up, this time bringing your right knee to your right elbow. Return to the starting position to complete one rep.
Make it easier: Drop your knees to the floor. Continue for 20 to 30 seconds.
Upper body: Plank jack
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Get into the "up" part of a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Your body should be straight from head to heels.
Engage your core and bend your elbows (keep them in toward your body) to lower your body toward the floor. Straighten your arms; at same time, quickly jump feet forward to the outside of your hands. Jump back to the previous position to complete the rep.
Make it easier: Instead of jumping, walk your feet forward (and back). Continue for 20 to 30 seconds.
Lower body: Flying bridge
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Sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands on the floor by your hips with your fingertips forward.
Push up into a reverse tabletop with your knees over your ankles and hands under your shoulders. Lower your hips, pushing them back between your arms until your legs straighten and the weight is evenly divided between your hands and feet.
Bend your knees and push your hips back up to the previous position to complete one rep.
Make it easier: Lower your butt to the mat before pushing back up to reverse tabletop. Continue for 20 to 30 seconds.
Lower body: Butt kicker
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From all fours, lift your hips to come into a Downward Dog pose. Walk your feet forward until your feet are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders.
Keeping your feet flexed, raise your right foot and try to touch your heel to your butt. Lower it and repeat with your other foot.
Pick up the pace, alternating feet as quickly as possible for 20 to 30 seconds. Next, bend your knees slightly and jump both heels up to try to touch your butt. Continue for 20 to 30 more seconds.
Make it easier: Alternate feet during second part instead of jumping.
Mid-section: Standing knee tuck
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Stand with your feet together. Lift your left leg straight back, hinging forward at the hips and reaching your hands forward by your ears. Keep your hips level and body straight from hands to heel.
Using your abs, draw your left knee in toward your chest. Bending your elbows to pull arms down toward your knees. Return to the previous position to complete one rep.
Make it easier: Hold onto a chair or counter with one hand. Continue for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Mid-section: Rock the boat
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Sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands on the backs of your thighs. Tighten your abs.
Begin to roll down onto your upper back, letting your feet lift. Generate enough momentum to rock back up.
Come to a standing position, then jump, twisting your body to the left in the air. Jump again, twisting back to the center. Lower back down and repeat the sequence on opposite side.
Make it easier: Use one hand to push up off the floor. Continue for 20 to 30 seconds.