My first YouTube video of this New Year highlights 5 dynamic core exercises to help you strengthen your abdominals and low back – no equipment necessary.

When doing core work especially, remember to breathe and stay focused on your breath throughout each exercise. If you’re having a hard time catching your breath or taking deep breaths in any part of the  exercises, pull back and adjust your range of motion. It’s better to breathe and not push your limits than it is to strain with shallow breathing.

The deeper you breathe, the more muscles you’ll engage to strength and build your core muscles. 

Here’s the breakdown –

1.     Side plank pendulum leg swings – There are several variations of side planks, but I have the most control when I bend the bottom leg – especially when I’m lifting the top leg. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder, hand relaxed. Keep the top arm alongside your hip so that your chest and shoulder are rolled back vs. facing the floor. Breathe deep and tighten your core to avoid momentum as you swing your leg.

***The leg swing is optional. Try mastering the stationary hold for a few rounds first.

2.     Forearm plank – Notice how I straightened my legs toward the end? Keep yours straight, too!

3.     Lying knee tucks – I like to lift my head slightly, but you can keep your head down if that works better for you. Notice how my low back isn’t arching off the mat each time I extend my legs? If you’re having a hard time keeping your back to the floor, try extending your legs a little higher and/or breathing deeper with each rep.

***See how it feels to extend one leg a time…something different.

4.     High plank knee tucks – Start in high plank position and pause. Engage your core by gently pressing into your palms as if you’re trying to push the floor away and keep your belly button as far away from the floor as possible. Notice how my upper back is slightly rounded as I press myself away from the floor. Stay on your toes and shift your weight slightly forward, bringing your shoulders toward your fingertips.

Hug your right knee up and into your chest and then lower your knee down to the floor gently. Think of the floor as glass that you don’t want to crack! Continue hugging up and in with that same knee for 8 to 10 reps. You can pause in high plank before switching sides or come off your hands before going to the other side.

***You can do this using a step or both. Elevation often makes core exercises more accessible.

5.     Tabletop shoulder taps – Set up in tabletop position. Your knees are hip-distance apart and your shoulders are stacked on top of your palms, fingers spread wide. From tabletop, lift your knees so they hover above the floor. You’ll immediately feel your core muscle engage to support this hovered position! Without rocking side to side, tap your right palm to your left shoulder and then your left palm to your right shoulder.

Happy training! Leave a comment below if you try any of these moves!