You can never have too many options for working your core. Why? "A strong core is necessary in all facets of life—not just at the gym or for looking good at the beach," NASM-certified celebrity trainer Astrid Swan, tells SELF. And she's right. Core strength can help you run faster, lift heavier, and balance better, plus improve your posture and help fight low-back pain.
With that in mind, we asked Swan to share some innovative core moves. The moves below focus on the entire abdominal wall, including your rectus abdominis muscles (aka, your abs, the muscles that run vertically on your abdomen) and transverse abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle) -but also on your obliques, Swan says. . The last move-the crawl to plank jump-adds a cardio element and will work your shoulders and arms.
For several of these moves, you'll be in a high plank or side plank. When you're in a high plank, make sure your wrists are always directly underneath your shoulders, and that you're not letting your hips sag toward the floor. "Always keep your hips tucked and lifted," Swan says. If your hips are sagging, chances are, you're not actually engaging your core. Keep your belly button pulled toward your spine and your core braced throughout all of the moves. You can also try slightly internally rotating your arms (think about turning the crease of your elbows forward) to make sure that your shoulder blades stay engaged, and that you're using your muscles—not just locking your arms and relying on your bone structure to hold you up.
You'll need a chair, bench, or box (like the one we used) to complete this workout. If that's too challenging (these moves are not easy!) you can modify the workout by doing all the moves, except the hover-up, without a chair. Once you feel comfortable doing them all on the floor, you can work your way up to the elevated positions. Swan suggests doing this abs workout three times per week. You can add it to the end of a strength workout or try it after your favorite cardio routine.