When athletes train, they multitask. Conditioning work may have a dose of hand-eye coordination. Agility drills challenge balance while strengthening the mind-body connection. These combinations aren’t just a means to maximize gym time. “You’re breaking up the monotony of training,” says Ryan Hopkins, founder of Soho Strength Lab in New York City. So he invited us to his turf to run through some of his go-to drills for core strengthening—a famously boring part of a workout. Grab some pals to stoke some friendly competition, and try these games that make core work suck a little less.
1. Cone Stacker
Start in a high plank, feet hip-width apart, a stack of five disk cones behind right hand. Squeeze glutes to maintain form and use right hand to transfer cones to right side (above), then do 5 pushups. Repeat on opposite side, transferring cones to the left.
2. Ball Balance
Start in a high plank, feet hip-width apart, left hand on the floor, right hand on a small, hard medicine ball. Use right hand to orbit ball around left hand. Do a pushup, then switch sides so left hand is atop medicine ball, and repeat on left side.
Start in a high plank, the end of a heavy rope (unattached to equipment) beside you. Pull rope with right hand until you reach other end. Reset and repeat on left side. Try it with a partner, racing on separate ropes to see who completes the pull fastest.
4. Plate Perfect
Start in a high plank, a stack of 5 light (2.5 or 5 lb) weight plates under chest. Alternating hands, transfer plates one at a time from beneath chest to a foot forward. Align the stack perfectly. After stacking, do a set of side planks, then return plates to start.
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