The Only 3 Moves You Need for a Stronger Core

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I always tell my pro athlete clients that the easiest way to boost their performance is to focus on the core. Strengthen the dozens of muscles there, and nearly anything you do — whether it's sprinting, hitting a ball, lifting weights — will be done with more power and fluidity. This series of exercises are aimed at the abs, lower back, and obliques. Perform them at least four times a week. Within a month, most of my clients notice a big difference.

1. Plank Pikes
This juiced-up plank challenges your rectus abdominis — the six-pack muscles. Get in plank position with feet together on a towel, hands under shoulders, back flat. Slowly pull feet toward hands, hiking hips. Reverse back to plank, and repeat. Do 15 reps.

2. Standing Bird Dogs
This exercise fires your lower back muscles and improves balance. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at sides. Hinge forward from the waist, reaching your right arm straight out while extending your left leg behind you, until your leg, back, and arm are parallel to the floor. Return to start; repeat on opposite side for 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 10.


3. Twisting Crunches
This is one of my favorite moves to work the obliques. Lie faceup with hands behind head, shoulder blades lifted off the floor, knees tucked in toward chest. Blow out air slowly to glue your lower back to the floor. Drop your knees to one side as you twist your upper body in the opposite direction (you should feel this in your sides, not neck and shoulders). Repeat on the opposite side. Do 12 reps.