10-Minute Core Workout

Most of us know that a strong core is vital to almost every physical activity, right? But how do we get a strong and functional core? While having a six-packs might look nice, visible abs are not a reliable indicator of performance ability, or injury resistance.

Core Training Facts & Myths

Did you know that crunches aren’t the best way to train your abs? Exercises like crunches and sit-ups place repetitive stress on your spine in a flexed position, which can lead to bulging and herniated discs. If you sit at a computer for any amount of time throughout the day, the last thing you need is more time in a flexed (or rounded) spinal position. In fact, spine specialist Dr. Stuart McGill is on a crusade to eliminate the sit-up.

Maybe you’ve heard that you don’t need isolated core training if you do compound strength exercises like deadlifts and squats? There are certainly a number of reputable strength coaches that ascribe to this ideology. While it’s true that you don’t need to perform core training, I believe some extra core work can be incredibly beneficial.

The Right Way To Train Your Core

This core training workout is a 10-minute circuit designed to build an indestructible torso. You’ll be challenging your abs in a functional way by working your core from every angle, instead of just working rectus abdominus (the 6-pack abs). This entire workout is focused on challenging your muscles to keep your spine stable through varying loads.

Before trying this workout, you want to make sure you have proper core stability, or the ability to brace your spine as you move your limbs, before attempting these core exercises.

Core Stability Test

The dead bug is my go-to core stability test. Can you do this without arching your lower back and flaring your ribs?

If so, you have some decent core stability and can move on to the workout below.

If have any pain or can’t perform this exercise well, I would NOT recommend doing this core workout. Instead, perform core stability exercises, like plank and bird dog.

4 Types of Core Exercises

As I mentioned earlier, this workout trains the primary function of the core to stabilize the spine. What does this mean in terms of how the body moves?

This workout includes 4 exercises – each designed to challenge the core in different ways including anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-lateral flexion.

1. Anti-extension refers to preventing overarching the spine, especially in the lower back. Any kind of plank exercise is an anti-extension exercise, as you try to maintain a rigid torso without arching the lower back.

2. Anti-rotation refers to fighting rotational forces placed on the spine by keeping the shoulders and hips square. Any variation of the Palloff press (seated or standing) is an example of an anti-rotation core exercise.

3. Anti-flexion refers to limiting the rounding (or flexing) of the spine. A goblet squat or deadlift fits this category, since your focus is on maintaining a long spine as you bend from the knees and/or hips.

4. Anti-lateral flexion refers to fighting leaning to the side when unilaterally loaded. Side planks and any one-sided carries are examples of this type of core exercise.

If you train your core to stay strong and tall through those 4 patterns, you will build a stable, bulletproof core. This workout is best performed at the end of a strength training session.

Core Workout Instructions

Perform this workout as a circuit, with little rest between exercises. Complete a total of 2 rounds.

Exercise Reps / Time / Distance
RKC Plank 30 seconds
Pallof Press 10 reps each side
Goblet Squat (hold) 10 reps
KB Suitcase Carry 50 yards each arm

Core Exercise Demonstrations

1. RKC Plank

This is a variation on the standard plank position where you brace your abs while supporting your bodyweight on your elbows and toes. The RKC variation increases the intensity by placing the elbows slightly narrower than shoulder-width (narrower base = more difficult) and the forearms out in the front of the body (longer arm lever = more difficult).

2. Standing Pallof Press

Set up a resistance band so one end is wrapped around a sturdy base just below chest-height. Stand sideways a few feet away from your anchor so that your inside shoulder is lined up with the post. With a slight bend in your knees, press the resistance band straight ahead. Your goal is to keep your core braced and fight the pull of the band as you press the band straight out in front of your chest. Don’t let your shoulders or hips rotate!

3. Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is a versatile exercise. It improves hip mobility, activates your quads, and challenges your core. The focus here is anti-flexion. Start with a moderate weight and take 5 seconds to slowly lower in a deep squat. Hold at the bottom for 5 seconds. Stand up tall maintaining a strong neutral spine throughout the entire movement. Keep the kettlebell, or dumbbell close to your body as you squat up and down.

4. KB Suitcase Carry

The suitcase carry is one of my favorite loaded carries. This exercise challenges anti-lateral flexion while simultaneously emphasizing shoulder and hip stability.

Grab a moderate to heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand and start walking. Maintain tall posture and avoid leaning towards the side with the weight. Walk about 50 yards, then switch hands and do the other side. Most guys can start with about 40-70 lbs, ladies can start with suitcase carries around 30-50 lbs. A solid goal is to work yourself up to half your bodyweight in each hand.

This workout is an intermediate level workout. As I mentioned in above, make sure you have good core stability before performing this workout. Let me know how you do with this workout and feel free to share any of your favorite core exercises below.

Quick Arm Work Out For At Home

tone biceps and triceps with this arm workout
“Your arms are one of the first muscles to show toning results after starting a weight training routine,” says Adam Kant, owner of Intrepid Gym in Hoboken, New Jersey. “You don’t have to be lifting heavy to tone up (although it tends to show results faster if you do!)—doing lightweight movements with higher reps will help firm everything up ASAP.” Here’s how to sculpt your arms without stepping foot in the gym:

What you’ll need:
A yoga mat or towel to stand on
Two dumbbells (5-10 pounds)
A kettlebell (15-20 pounds)

The routine: Perform 3 rounds, 12 reps per move, 2-3 times per week. Pair with a cardio workout for optimal results. And try not to rest in between moves or rounds, to keep up your heart rate and those calories burning!

1. Push-Ups

“Push-ups are a classic move that really get the job done!” says Kant. Start out parallel to the floor in a plank position then lower your body, bending your elbows until your chest touches the floor. Return to starting position and repeat. “If this is too challenging for you, rest your knees on the floor for an assisted push-up.”2. Kettlebell Swings

“Kettlebell swings are an amazing full body exercise,” says Kant. “They work your core more than you realize, while also toning your arms at the same time.” Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of your body, arms loose. Bend your knees slightly, keeping your weight in your heels. Slightly swing the kettlebell through your legs toward your rear then explode with your hips forward sending the kettlebell up toward the ceiling, overhead or at least chest-height. Be sure to keep your arms straight and extended throughout the entire exercise. Bring the kettlebell back to the start position between your legs and repeat, using the momentum you’ve built up! “Remember to keep your weight in your heels and your core tight the whole time,” says Kant.3. Triceps Kickbacks

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Bend your upper body at your waist slightly to make a 45-degree angle. Push the dumbbells back until they are parallel with your lower back. Return them to the start position, bending your elbows, bringing the dumbbells in line with your chest.

4. Dumbbell Shoulder Presses

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bring the dumbbells (one in each hand) up to your shoulders. With a slight bend in your knees, thrust the dumbbells up overhead to meet at the top. Return to the starting position with dumbbells at your shoulders and repeat.

5. Floor Bench Presses

Lie on the floor, knees bent with a flat back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, press them toward the ceiling then lower the weights until your triceps touch the floor. Repeat.6. Plank Rows

Start in a plank position, holding a dumbbell in each hand on the floor. Row one dumbbell up until it reaches your waist. Return to floor and repeat on other side. “To up the intensity, complete a push-up between the rows,” suggests Kant. “It’s called a ‘man maker.’ “