Forget sit-ups — build a stronger core in 10 minutes with these 6 exercises

 A photo of a woman's visible ab muscles as she workouts.
A photo of a woman's visible ab muscles as she workouts.

Training your core doesn’t have to be a bore and it certainly doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. If you need some fresh exercises to strengthen and define your core muscles then you’re in the right place. We’ve found a six move workout that will target different areas of your core and it only takes 10 minutes.

The even better news is that you can perform this workout at home if you’d prefer. Brittany Williams, the trainer behind this routine uses two dumbbells to raise the position of her hands in a couple of the exercises but this isn’t necessary. You can still get just as good a workout in, with or without dumbbell handles to hold onto. However, your joints will thank you for placing one of the best yoga mats underneath you as you work out, as this is a floor based routine.

Before you get stuck into the details of this workout we just want to remind you of how important form is when it comes to any form of exercise. Whether you are working out with equipment or not, learning the correct form of an exercise and maintaining proper this throughout a movement is essential if you want to avoid injury and get more out of your training. That’s why we’ve included William’s demonstrations below to refer to when trying her workout on your own.

What is the workout?

The workout consists of six exercises which you will perform on the floor so make sure you have a bit of space your movements. You will do each exercise for 30 seconds and repeat two times over, allowing yourself 60 seconds rest between rounds.

Downward dog to mountain climber (30 seconds each side)

In Williams' demonstration, you see her start in a plank position. She then lifts her hips up into a downward dog and holds for a moment before shifting forward into a plank. She then brings one knee towards her chest before returning to downward dog.

Hollow hold knee bend and lift (30 seconds)

Williams starts off this move lying on her back with her legs lifted off the floor, hands holding her head up off the floor and engaging her core in a hollow hold. She then bends one knee towards her chin while keeping the other leg straight and off the floor. She alternates bending the other knee towards her chin. After bending both knees, Williams straightens both legs before lifting them both towards the ceiling. Repeat this sequence for the designated time.

Bear plank to toe touches (30 seconds)

This exercise combines one of the best plank variations (the bear plank) with toe touches to spark up a burn in your abs and core muscles. To perform this exercise Williams shows herself starting in the bear plank position which involves lifting your knees a few inches off the ground while on your hands and toes, engaging the core, and maintaining a straight line from head to knees. Then she lifts one hand and reaches across to touch the opposite toe. She then returns to the plank position and repeats on the other side.

Bent leg V up with extension (30 seconds)

Williams performs this exercise by lying on her back with her arms and legs extended and raised off the ground. She then uses her core to rise up and bring her arms and legs together in a sitting position. Remaining here, she extends her legs out and her arms up above her head before returning to the centre and then to the starting position and repeats.

Bear to plank hops (30 seconds)

Williams begins in a bear plank position with her hands and knees on the ground. She then jumps both feet backward to land in a plank position, with her body forming a straight line from head to heels. Next, she jumps both feet back to the starting bear plank position, landing softly on her toes and keeping her knees bent. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Reverse plank mountain climbers

In this demonstration, Williams starts in a reverse plank position with her hands placed directly under her shoulders and her legs extended straight out in front of her. While engaging her core she brings one knee towards her chest before returning the leg to the starting position and repeating with the opposite leg. Continue this process for 30 seconds.

What are the benefits?

a photo of a woman performing a plank
a photo of a woman performing a plank

Strengthening the core muscles is crucial for overall health and fitness. The core muscles include those in the abdomen, lower back, pelvis, and hips, and they play a fundamental role in providing stability, balance, and support for the entire body.

One significant benefit of core strengthening exercises is the improvement in posture. Research suggests that building strong core muscles can be good for the spine and even help prevent lower back pain. A strong core helps maintain proper alignment of the spine, reducing the risk of developing poor posture-related issues such as back pain and discomfort.

Bodyweight workouts, like the one above, offer a convenient and accessible way to strengthen the core muscles, particularly when performed at home. With bodyweight exercises, you can effectively target the core muscles using minimal equipment or even no equipment at all, making it easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Additionally, home workouts eliminate the need for commuting to a gym, saving time and providing flexibility in scheduling workouts.

And yes, bodyweight core exercises can build muscle, especially when performed with proper form and with the incorporation of progressive overload into your training. In addition to bodyweight core exercises, maintaining a balanced diet rich in protein supports muscle growth, while incorporating cardiovascular and resistance training helps reduce body fat and reveal muscle definition throughout the body, including the core.

More from Tom's Guide