Though it can be tempting to throw yourself into a fast and furious workout routine—especially this time of year when New Year's fitness goals run at an all-time high—please don't. (At least not one your body isn't ready for, that is.)
Though the human anatomy is pretty much the ultimate specimen where adaptation and strength are concerned, shocking your system with an aggressive fitness regimen—especially if you've been off the exercise wagon for awhile or are a brand-new rider—typically isn't the most strategic of M.O.s. Remember the idiom, "slow and steady wins the race"? Well, it happens to be a spectacular approach when adopting a new exercise routine, including a beginner core workout.
So if you're looking to safely sculpt your way to a strong and stable core this year, look no further. We consulted with LEKfit creator, fitness expert, and celebrity trainer Lauren Kleban to learn her top five moves when configuring a beginner core workout. Keep reading for her must-try workout and some helpful tips, tricks, and videos along the way.
1. Core Contractions
For beginners, (or if you happen to fall in the pre or post-natal camp) Kleban prescribes this simple yet effective exercise as the ultimate introduction to a beginner core workout. "This move forces you to engage your rectus abdominis—aka your six pack—and it's also really great if you have a weak or injured back," Kleban explains.
Start by resting your kneecaps on well-cushioned yoga mat or towel. Then inhale, contract your lower abs by pulling in and up, hold, and then release on your exhale. Kleban says you can also try the exercise standing (if it's more comfortable) and suggests repeating your contractions 10 times for a total of two rounds, resting in between. (To see the move in action, click here.)
2. Seated Leg Lifts
"Once you feel you have begun to engage and connect with your core, flip over to your back with knees bent, feet on the ground, while sitting up and resting on your elbows," recommends Kleban.
Then, keeping your chin off your chest and shoulders away from your ears, use your abdominal muscles to alternate lifting the feet off the ground while keeping your knees bent. According to Kleban, this is a great alternative to crunches and is another easy option if you have a weak or injured back. Alternate your legs a total of 20 times (10 per side), rest, and then try another set. (To see the move in action, click here.)
3. Modified Plank Lifts
Once you have mastered the first two exercise in this beginner core workout, Kleban says you can begin to incorporate planks into your workout.
"Planks work the entire core and put you at less risk for injury than crunches. To start, begin on all fours, keeping shoulders down and elbows soft, and then alternate extending the legs straight back. Lift your legs a total of 20 times (10 per side), rest, and then try another set."
4. Full Plank Lifts
For a slightly more difficult take on the above exercise (and when you feel you are ready), follow Kleban's lead and add in a full plank to make it a bit more challenging.
"Alternate lifting your legs straight back just as you did before. This move engages your entire core and arms. Lift your legs a total of 20 times (10 per side), rest, and then try another set."
5. Boat Pose
Last, but certainly not least, end your core workout with a boat pose. Make sure you're sitting on a cushioned surface (you may want to double fold your yoga mat for this one!) and lift both legs up at the same time, slightly leaning back in your torso.
Then, once you feel stable, lift arms straight out in front of you and simply hold, making sure to inhale and exhale evenly. Hold as long as possible—10 to 30 seconds is a great place to start for a beginner core workout.