I've done a ton of different core exercises in my time as a fitness trainer. Core happens to be one of my favorite things to teach. In my catalog of torture, I mean exercises, there are a few that even I dread bringing out because they are so brutal. We may have different tolerance levels of tough workouts, but I would be shocked if anyone tries these three exercises and comes out unfazed. Excited to try? Of course you are; let's do this.
The Tuck Twist
Disclaimer: I don't just dread this one, I absolutely HATE it. I call that a ringing endorsement. Squat down with your knees tight together, feet aligned. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and rest your bottom on your heels. Plant your hands directly in front of your knees, in a straight line down from your shoulders. Sway your knees from left to right, keeping your feet and knees connected. You may need to move your planted hands out an inch or two to allow your knees to pass behind them. Now, lift your bottom off your heels, press down into your palms with straight arms, and jump twist your feet to the right. Hands stay planted. Jump your feet back to the left. Keep your hips elevated and twist in your tuck position for 20-30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat three to five times. A perfect way to incorporate this move is into a Tabata workout. It's that intense that you can't do it for longer. This move is a plyo crunch that incorporates your side body, balance, and muscular endurance. You will feel this in your legs as well as your belly, and you will be out of breath after a short interval. You're welcome.
For all you yogis out there, you may know this one already, so I don't need to sell you on it. But for the rest of my fitness nation members, lie down on your back with your legs long in front of you. Cross your right leg over the top of your left knee (some of you may be able to tuck your right toes behind your left calf). Knees will now bend until you unwind them. Lift your arms up toward the ceiling and wrap your right arm under your left, bringing your palms to touch. If that is too much, just touch the backs of your hands together, or bring your hands and forearms together, elbows bent. This is a reclined Eagle pose. Inhale and lift your twisted legs off the floor while you reach your twisted arms back behind your head, fingertips reaching back for the floor behind you. On your exhale, bring the elbows and knees together, lifting shoulder blades up from the floor and maybe your lower pelvic bone as you crunch together. Release your bound arms back behind your head and your toes back to the floor to begin another repetition. Start with 10 reps, then lower back down, and undo your twisted arms and legs. Do a full-body stretch to release. Now twist on the other side: left leg over right, left arm under right, and do 10 more crunches. Do each side at least three times. You should feel like a wrung-out dishrag with burning abs when you are done. No need to keep thanking me. It's my pleasure and my job.
Stability Ball Roll
This move requires full concentration, quick reflexes, and a stability ball (one of the larger ones). Kneel behind the ball and place your forearms squarely in the middle of the ball, shoulder width apart. Lean into your arms while stepping your feet back behind you, about hip width distance, lifting your hips into a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. You are in an angled low plank on the ball. Arch up through your shoulder blades, like a cat hissing, and begin to roll the ball in a tiny, tiny clockwise direction, stopping once you've returned to the top. The smaller the movement, the more in control you will stay. You can also step your feet out super wide, but your legs need to stay flexed and toes grounded. Roll the ball in another tiny, tiny circle, this time counterclockwise. Repeat for 10 minicircles each side. Repeat at least two more times. As you progress, you can try to widen the circle each subsequent time. If this is completely not doable, try going to your knees and build up your strength. This is an advanced move, so don't give up, just keep after it. You're mad at me now, but your abs are grateful we met. Trust me.