(All photos: Lisa Elaine Held)
By Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good
Crunches are out (too back rounding and too inefficient), so that means you’ll need new ways to strengthen—and sculpt—your core.
“It’s your center pillar, the powerhouse of your body,” says Brynn Jinnett, founder of the Refine Method. “Strengthening it will enable you to work harder in your exercise classes and move more safely throughout your day.”
Jinnett shares five of her favorite functional core strengtheners that are way smarter than crunches. Aim for ten reps of each and you’ll be ripped for summer. “As long as you practice pushing the plate away, too,” says Jinnett. “Diet is a big factor in the results people want for their midsection, too.”
1. Sliding Pike
Start in plank position with your feet on sliding discs. (At home, you can use anything that slides—a dish towel, slipper socks, etc.) Use your core to slowly slide your feet in towards your hands—think about pulling your glutes up to the ceiling. Then using control and your abs, slide back out.
2. Plank with Open-and-Close Legs
Start in plank, and slide your feet out wide and back in while keeping your back flat and your abs activated. Your legs are the only moving parts.
3. Sliding Forearm Plank
Place the sliding discs under your forearms and start in a forearm plank with your back flat. Slide each forearm out and back, one at a time.
4. Kettlebell Stand-and-Kneel
Hold a kettlebell (or a water jug, at home!) over your head, and stand with your feet hip width apart. Tighten your core and slowly lower onto one knee and then the other, and then stand back up in the same way.
5. Resistance Band Raise
Attach a resistance band to a door or another secure anchor. Stand with your feet wider than your hips, with the band to one side. Grasp the band with your hands together and extend your arms straight out in front of you, activating your abs all the while. Next, bend your elbows and move your fists in towards your chest. Then, raise your fists up over your head (pictured). Lower back to the starting position with your arms extended in front of you, and start again.