Having a strong core will help you power up hills and rack up miles, but tacking on crunches to the end of your strength training session doesn’t always cut it.
Having a strong core will help you power up hills and rack up miles, but tacking on crunches to the end of your strength training session doesn’t always cut it. Instead, try this 20-minute ab workout to help you build a solid core. The best part: You only need your own body weight to get it done.
The advantage of doing a 20-minute, concentrated core workout like this rather than mixing in core work with a full-body circuit or doing a shorter abs workout is to fully fatigue the abdominal muscles to the point of muscle failure, which will lead to improved strength.
How to do it: Perform the circuit below as a 20-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). Aim to complete 3 to 4 rounds. Perform each move for the recommended number of reps before starting a new round. Perform the circuit 1 to 2 times per week, spread about three days apart to give your core ample rest time. Each exercise is demonstrated by Dane Miklaus so you can learn perfect form.
Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists and core braced to create a solid foundation. Drawing shoulder blades down, jump both feet toward right hand, bringing bent knees close to right elbow and landing softly. Jump back to the starting position in high plank, then quickly jump both feet to left hand, with bent knees coming to left elbow. Return to center. Continue to repeat as fast as possible while maintaining proper core position. Complete 30 reps.
Lie faceup on a mat with legs straight, arms extended straight overhead. Engage core to lift head, neck, and shoulders off the mat as you draw hands and feet toward the ceiling to meet (you may only be able to tap your shins). Lower arms and legs slowly, ensuring your pelvis does not lift up, keeping your lower back protected and pressed to mat. As you return to starting position, keep core engaged so that hands and feet do not touch the ground. Repeat. Complete 15 reps.
Side Plank With Toe Tap
Start in a side forearm plank with right elbow under shoulder, right forearm flat, left arm extended straight up, and feet staggered. Lift right foot, bending knee to step it in front of left foot. That’s one rep. Reverse the move to return right foot to starting position. Remember to keep core engaged throughout to prevent hips from dipping or swaying. Complete 30 reps on each side, each round.
Knee-to-Elbow Forearm Plank
Start in a forearm plank position with elbows under shoulders, forearms on the floor, hands in fists, back straight, and abs tight. Engage glutes and legs to prevent hips from lifting or dipping so body forms a straight line from heels to head. Then, draw left knee up to left elbow, aiming to tap knee to tricep. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the right side, keeping core stable and hips from rotating, performing the move slowly. That’s one rep. Complete 20.
Lie faceup with fingers interlaced behind your head. Use core to lift head, neck, and shoulders—don’t pull on neck with hands—to crunch up as you bend right knee, draw it toward chest, and hover left leg off the ground. Lower right leg and upper body to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat on the left side, crunching up, bending left knee, drawing it toward chest and hovering right leg off ground. Lower back down. Think: a bicycle crunch without the rotation. Complete 20 reps.