There’s a wealth of core exercises out there – so many, in fact, that the choice can feel overwhelming.
But achieving a strong core needn’t require a complicated routine or a mile-long list of different moves. Building up strength and stability can be simple and satisfying for both body and soul, as barre instructor and founder of London studios NRG Barrebody, Nathalie Errandonea-Mewes, knows well. Here, she guides us through her top five core exercises, breaking down exactly how to perform them correctly and safely.
Whether you simply want to counteract the posture-challenging habits of working from home, or are working towards bigger goals, consider this five-move core workout the ideal starting point.
1/ WARM UP: SINGLE LEG STRETCH
- Start on your back and take a few moments to breathe deeply into the back and lower abs.
- Pull your abs in as you exhale, taking your belly button down toward your spine as you curl your head and shoulders up to the tips of the shoulder blades. As you curl up, extend your left leg at a 45-degree angle (for beginners) or hovering just above the floor (intermediate level).
- Keep the right leg in table-top position towards the chest with your hand pressing onto the leg. Maintain your upper-body curve throughout the exercise. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and your abdominals deeply scooped.
- Switch legs and repeat, switching legs 20 times.
2/ DOUBLE LEG STRETCH
- Pull your abdominal muscles in to curve your upper body up off the floor as you exhale.
- Deepen the abs, bringing your forehead toward your knees. Grasp your shins. Reach your arms over your head and keep your legs long as you inhale.
- Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your abs pulled in as you reach your arms and legs in opposite directions. Extend as far as possible while keeping your abs pulled in and your lower back on the mat. Your upper body should stay lifted as you reach.
- Sweep your arms out to the sides as you exhale, reaching around to grasp your shins. Deepen your abs and pull your legs in to centre. Do not drop your upper body curve.
- Repeat 10 times.
3/ CRISS CROSS
- Place your hands behind your head, supporting the base of the skull. Keep the elbows wide.
- Pull the abs into a deep scoop, curl the chin and shoulders off the mat.
- Reach your left leg out long, and as you keep the elbows wide, rotate your torso toward the bent right knee so that your left armpit is reaching toward the knee.
- Inhale as you switch legs and bring the trunk through centre.
- Extend the right leg. Rotate your upper body toward the left knee. Keep your chest open and elbows wide the whole time.
- Repeat 10 times, then take a break with your knees into your chest and repeat another 10 times. Beginners can try hovering the extended leg at a 45-degree angle.
4/ ARABESQUE EXTENSION IN PLANK
- This is where it gets a little harder, but for all the right reasons: you’re working your glutes, arms and back.
- Come onto all-fours, with shoulders above the wrists and hips above the knees.
- Engage your core, pulling your abdominals into the spine, and lift your knees off the floor.
- Lift your right foot off the floor, bringing the right knee closer to the chest, then extend the leg back into an arabesque extension.
- Keep your hips and shoulders square and facing the mat.
- Bring your knee back in forward and extend back into arabesque.
- Repeat 10 times. Take a break, bringing your knees down to the floor and switching legs. Repeat 10 times more.
5/ SIDE LEG DEVELOPPÉ IN A PLANK
- This one really focuses on your obliques.
- Come onto all-fours, with shoulders above the wrists and hips above the knees. Engage your core, pulling your abdominals into the spine, and lift your knees off the floor.
- Lift your right foot off the floor, bringing the right knee closer to the chest, then unfold the leg to the side. Keep your shoulders square and facing the mat.
- Bring your knee back in forward and repeat 10 times. Take a break, bringing your knees back in to the floor and switching legs. Repeat 10 times more.
From Harper’s Bazaar UK