Your middle is your body’s powerhouse.

By Ashley Mateo
October 07, 2020
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Forget six-pack abs—a strong core isn’t about aesthetics. “Your core is liter isn’t literally your foundation,” says Raven Jelks ally (shown here), an ACE-certified trainer at Solidcore in New York City. Not only is it the center point around which your entire body moves, but it’s also one of the most supportive areas. “When your core is weak, you’re more at risk for injuries, especially in your back,” she explains.

Solidcore’s high-intensity, low-impact resistance classes are all about developing that functional core strength through slow, controlled movements that keep your muscles under tension, which recruits and strengthens extra muscle fibers, explains Jelks.

Yes, it’s hard (really hard). And your body will start to shake. But fight to finish the rep! “You want to get to that stage of muscle failure,” says Jelks. Failure is a good thing in this case. “Strength training creates tiny tears in the muscles that your body repairs and rebuilds, making you better equipped for your next workout,” she explains. “Until you push yourself to the absolute limit, you cannot get stronger.”

Ready to give it a try? Jelks demonstrates a slow-burn workout created just for Health.

Plank to pike

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

(A) Start in a forearm-plank position, feet hip-width apart, elbows shoulder-width apart and directly under shoulders. Form a straight line from shoulders to heels. (B) Keeping legs straight and heels elevated, contract abdominals to lift hips and slowly drag the gliders in toward chest, stopping before knees bend. Lower hips back to plank slowly, keeping abdominals engaged. Repeat for two minutes.

Plank extension

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

(A) Start with knees on gliders behind hips and elbows shoulder-width apart and directly under shoulders. (B) Keeping hips slightly elevated and stationary, rock shoulders behind elbows, knees gliding on gliders. Bring shoulders back over elbows. Repeat for two minutes.

Plank crunch

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

(A) Start in a high-plank position with feet on gliders and knees slightly bent. (B) Bend the knees further, rounding the lower spine, to pull them in toward the elbows. Slowly straighten the legs to return to plank position. Repeat for two minutes.

Straight-arm crunch series

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

Starting Position, Parts I–III: (A) Keep back flat against the floor, bend knees, and lift legs to tabletop and arms to ceiling. Part I: (B) Slowly lower legs toward the floor and arms toward thighs, stopping before back arches. Bring legs and arms back to starting position. Repeat for one minute. Part II: Keeping back flat against the floor, slowly lower legs; keep arms extended to ceiling. While lifting legs back to starting position, lower arms toward hips. Lift arms back up when extending legs. Repeat for one minute. Part III: Lower legs toward the floor and arms toward thighs. Lift and lower the legs from the right to left in a semicircle, or rainbow-shaped, movement, then back to the opposite side. Repeat for one minute.

Army crawl

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

Start in a forearm plank, feet hip-width apart, elbows shoulder-width apart and directly under shoulders, feet on gliders. Lift hips slightly, and tuck tailbone. Keeping legs straight, begin to crawl forward on forearms. Reverse the action back to the starting point. Repeat for one minute.

Twisting high-plank crunch

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

(A) Start in a high-plank position, with feet on gliders. (B) Rotate hips down to the right, and bend knees to pull them toward the left elbow, slightly rounding spine. Slowly straighten the legs to return to a high-plank position. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides for three minutes.

Side plank with rotation

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

(A) Start in a side-plank position, with right forearm on the ground, legs straight, feet stacked or staggered, and left arm reaching toward the ceiling. (B) Reach left arm forward and underneath torso, slightly lifting and rotating the pelvis. Repeat for one minute; then switch sides.

Twisted plank extension

Credit: ANTHONY CUNANAN

(A) Start on forearms with knees stacked on one glider behind hips. (B) Keeping hips slightly elevated and stationary, rock shoulders behind elbows, knees gliding along on the glider.Rock forward to bring shoulders back over elbows. Repeat for two minutes; then switch sides.

This article originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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