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Time-Crunched No-Crunch Core Workout

Time-Crunched No-Crunch Core Workout

Working out doesn't have to be all stomach crunches and hours spent in the gym. Join Abigail Boswell for her time-crunched no-crunch core workout!

Warm up:

20 of each, 2 rounds

Tabletop Supermans

  • Starting on all fours facing downwards, lift your arms then legs off the floor trying to reach towards the wall in front of / behind you.
  • Alternate left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg and complete 10 rounds.  

Back-Taps

  • From a standing position, tap your toes alternately behind you, as your leg goes back, swing your arms forward and up in front of you to get the blood flowing round the whole of your body.

Cross-Country Skiers

  • Take the back-taps up a notch by jumping your feet alternately forwards and backwards and swinging your arms in opposition.

Half-Jacks

  • Tap one foot out to the side and then the other, at the same time swing your arm out to the side.

Jumping-Jacks

  • Jump both feet and arms out to the side and back to the centre.

Running on the Spot

  • Count 20 swings.

Main set:

2 rounds of

10 x Plank Walkouts

What: Continuously moving from standing into a plank position uses all the muscles in your body to keep you steady as you move your whole body through 90 degrees. Your heart will have to work to keep blood pumping from your head to your toes as the effect of gravity changes.

How: Move from standing into a plank position by walking your hands out on the floor in front of you.

Step-by-step: Start standing tall, then bend at the hips and knees as if you were doing a squat. Keep the hips moving back and the chest lifted as long as you can as you bend your knees and reach your hands to the floor. Walk your hands forward one by one until your body is in a plank position, with a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. When you’re walking your hands out and back, try to avoid rotation through the upper body and use your core and stabilising muscles to hold your torso steady. In your plank position, do not let your hips sink towards the ground; if you can’t hold a flat plank, lift the hips a few inches higher to keep your spine in a neutral position or touch your knees to the floor for a moment before you walk the hands back. Reverse the exercise by slowly walking your hands back to your feet, sticking your bum out, then lift your torso slowly up to a squatting position and slowly stand up.

Adapt: Some people find this exercise makes them feel a little light-headed; to avoid this, don’t come back up to standing between each rep, just lift up to a standing flat-back position with your hands on your thighs. If you want to make this exercise harder, challenge yourself to keep the upper body as still as possible, make the steps with your hands as small as possible and try to keep stepping your hands as close to your feet as possible.   

Toe Touches

What: This is a whole-body exercise that will also target your abs as you reach your hand to your foot while supporting your weight through the opposite hand and foot.

How: On all fours, with your hips off the floor, touch on hand to the toes of your opposite leg.

Step-by-step: Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet about hip-distance apart, hands flat on the floor with fingertips pointing outwards. Lift the hips off the floor, then pick up your left leg and right hand and foot and touch your toes in mid-air. Lower down with control and repeat on the other side. Keep the neck long and the shoulders down throughout.

Adapt: If you can’t reach your toes to begin with, start by just reaching to the knee. If you want to make this harder, keep the lifted leg straight and lift your hips higher too.

10 x Russian Twists

What: This classic calisthenic exercise will work your obliques and transversus abdominals to bring about the rotation, but your rectus abdominus (six pack muscles), hip flexors and many other stabilisers will be working to keep you in place.

How: From a seated position with knees bent, rotate the spine and touch the floor either side of you.

Step-by-step: In a seated position with your knees bent, lean your torso backwards a little while keeping the spine neutral, so that your torso and thighs make a V shape. Then, maintaining the angle of your back and a long neck, rotate your ribcage around the spine so that you can reach your arms around and touch the floor beside you with both hands.

Adapt: You can make this easier by staying more upright, or harder by leaning back more. You can also add a weight such as a medicine ball or other similar-sized heavy object and touch it to the floor on each side. Lifting your feet off the floor adds an additional stability challenge.

10 x Side Planks with Arm Reach

What: The side-plank will build strength, good proprioception and posture as you support your bodyweight sideways with one hand and your feet. Reaching the arm forwards and under will really challenge your balance and strength in your abdominals and obliques too.

How: From a hand-supported side-plank position, reach your top arm up in the air, then reach it forwards and down and twist a little until your fingertips are pointing behind you.

Step-by-step: Sit in your right side with both legs out to the left of you, with the foot of your top leg in front of the bottom one. Rest your right hand flat on the floor, directly underneath your shoulder. Press into your hand and lift the hips off the ground. Stack the shoulders - you may need to bring your hand closer to the body to get the right shoulder alignment. Think about broadening across the chest and pressing into your right hand to lift your torso and left shoulder upwards. The hips should also be stacked vertically. If you can, lift your top arm up vertically, then slowly and with control reach it forwards, then down and then carefully twist to point the fingertips under the body reaching behind you. Slowly reverse to the top. Rest between repetitions if you need to.

Adapt: If the arm reach is too much or you haven’t mastered the correct alignment for the side plank, practise that until it feels more comfortable before adding in the arm movement.To make it harder, make the twist bigger or add a dumbell or medicine ball underneath the supporting arm.

10 x Deadbugs

What: This is a great exercise to work your abdominals as well as hip flexors and shoulders, while keeping your spine in a neutral position.

How: Lying on your back with arms and legs in the air, hands resting on the knees, lower the opposite arm and leg towards the ground and then reverse.

Step-by-step: Lie on your back with your arms and legs in the air. Legs can be straight or bent depending on your hip and hamstring flexibility. Arms are straight and hands rest on the legs, on or around the knees. Start to lower the opposite arm and leg, keeping the other two touching in the centre. Straighten the lowering leg if it was bent in the middle. You do not need to lower all the way to the ground - once your arm and leg go beyond 45 degrees the exercise becomes a lot more challenging so work to within your own limits. Then return the arm and leg to the centre and repeat on the other side. Your lower back should stay either in contact with or a papers-width off the floor throughout. Keeping one leg and one arm in the air should prevent the lower back from lifting but always pay attention to good form.

Adapt: As described above, you can make this easier by keeping the legs bent and making the range of movement smaller. To make it more difficult, lower the arm and leg to about 10cm from the floor. You can progress by adding a large, but light object such as an empty cardboard box or a swiss-ball - hold this object between your knee and hand in the middle and keep it still throughout the exercise.

10 x Reverse Fly Back Raises

What: This exercise will improve posture by strengthening your erector spinae muscles (the opposite of your rectus abdominus) as well as your trapezius and rhomboids.

How: Lying on your front, with your arms out diagonally in front of you so your body is shaped like a Y, lift your chest off the floor.

Step-by-step: As described above, lying on your front, with your face either downwards or slightly forwards, ach your arms out diagonally in front of you so your body is shaped like a Y, lift your chest off the floor. Keep your feet on the ground and see if you can relax your glutes as they’re not needed in this exercise.

Adapt: To make this easier, keep the arms either by your sides or at shoulder height so you’re making a T instead of a Y. You can make this tougher by moving the arms so they’re straight out in front of you, so instead of the letter Y you look like an I. Try holding the position for longer and moving the arms through from the I to Y, to T position.

Cooldown

Tabletop Supermans

  • Starting on all fours facing downwards, lift your arms then legs off the floor trying to reach towards the wall in front of / behind you.
  • Alternate left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg and complete 10 rounds.  

Back-Taps

  • From a standing position, tap your toes alternately behind you, as your leg goes back, swing your arms forward and up in front of you to get the blood flowing round the whole of your body.

Half-Jacks

  • Tap one foot out to the side and then the other, at the same time swing your arm out to the side.

Stretch

  • Go through a full-body stretch routine to maintain your flexibility after working out and to help prevent stiffness.
  • Stretch your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, chest, back and triceps holding each stretch for at least 10 seconds.

Who says core workouts can't be fun?!

Looking for a protein boost pre/post workout? Check out Pulsin's Protein Bars!

Abigail Boswell

Abby is a personal trainer, triathlon coach and indoor cycling instructor. She has cycled over 30,000 miles in 5 different countries since taking to two wheels back in 2008. Her increasing confidence on the bike led to her entering a duathlon in 2010 and she discovered a passion for multi-sport. A career change in 2014 took her from the world of online marketing into the fitness industry and she now runs her own personal training business alongside coaching and taking part in triathlon.

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