A Barry's Bootcamp Trainer Shares Her 5 Best Moves to Strengthen and Sculpt Your Core
Sure, toned abs are great for swimsuit season, but having a strong core has benefits year-round, including improved posture and fewer aches and pains in your back. And fortunately, working your core doesn't require a ton of time or equipment, so it's easy to fit some targeted exercises into your busy schedule.
POPSUGAR asked Barry's Bootcamp trainer Samantha Sanchez — who teaches LIFT, a new 45-minute, non-treadmill class that's focused on strength training and body composition — for easy ways to get your abdominal muscles firing in no time. Here are her five favorite exercises to keep your abs tightened and toned all year long.
Crossbody Crunch to Leg Extension
- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your head.
- Bend your left knee and bring your right elbow up, as though the two would touch. For an extra challenge, lift your right leg and keep it suspended a couple inches above the ground.
- Keeping your right elbow in place, extend your left leg out, then bend it again, bringing it back toward your chest. This is a unilateral exercise.
- Do three sets of 10 reps on each side.
Banded Full-Body Sit-Up
- Grab a medium to light resistance band with both hands. Wrap the band below a bench, or if you don't have a bench, sit on it to keep it in place.
- Bring your knees to your chest, balancing on your tailbone in a boat pose.
- Press your arms and legs apart slowly, pushing the band back behind you as you fully extend your body.
- Once you've fully extended, tighten your abdominal muscles, drawing your belly button toward your spine, and return to boat pose.
- Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Reverse Crunch With Dumbbell Hold
- Lie on your back in a crunch position, with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, as shown.
- Rather than keeping your arms down at your sides, hold one end of a medium to heavy dumbbell with both hands, and stretch your arms up and back, so the dumbbell hangs over or behind your head. The further back you hold the dumbbell, the more difficult the exercise will be.
- Keep your core tight as you drive your knees toward your chest, lifting your hips off the ground in the process. Return to the starting position.
- Complete three sets of 15 reps.
- Start in a standard high plank, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your feet spread a bit wider than hip-width apart.
- Slowly bend your knees while simultaneously sending your hips down and back until your arms are fully extended in front of you. This will look much like a child's pose, but your knees should hover above the ground.
- Blast off into a high plank position, pushing into the tips of your toes.
- Complete three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Bear Plank Shoulder Taps
- Start in a standard high plank, with your hands directly below your shoulders. Walk your knees in until they sit just below your hips.
- In this position, lift your right hand and tap your left shoulder, then return it to the ground. Do the same thing on the opposite side, lifting your left hand to tap your right shoulder, before putting it back on the ground. Keep your core stable to avoid movement in your hips.
- Complete three 30-second sets.