Back To Basics: How To Master Your Core

Countless crunches, endless leg lifts, a multitude of mountain climbers — if you're anything like us, you've tried everything (like, everything) to get that core in tip-top shape. But, we've got a little secret to share: When it comes to your midsection, basic is definitely better. We brought in pro-trainer Jessi Kneeland from Peak Performance NYC to help us get our core game up. Scroll through for tips on mastering your planks and push-ups for a rock-solid core. You'll also receive toned arms and shoulders as a bonus gift. You can thank us later.
Photographed by Aliya Naumoff.
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
The Plank

For this move, make sure your feet are together and that your elbows are right under your shoulders. Keeping your abs tight, lift your body, maintaining a straight line from your heels to your tailbone and through to the top of your head. You should feel this mainly in your abs, rather than your shoulders, elbows, or forearms. Think about pulling your arms back toward your knees — this will help you fully engage your core. Keep your neck straight, and don't forget to breathe.

Do three sets, based on how long you can hold your plank tightly, without dropping your hips. Thirty seconds is a good start — but more is even better. Hard Tail Forever Pants; Hard Tail Forever Sports bra; Nike Roshe Run Sneakers, $70, available at Nike
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
Modifications

Beginner: This move can be done on your knees. Make sure to keep your abs engaged and your back straight.
Expert:Bored by the regular plank? Try lifting (and holding) one leg a couple of inches off the ground.
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
The (Modified) Push Up

Start with your feet and knees together and your hands flat on the floor, directly under your shoulders and elbows, with your fingers extended. Keep your abs tight to make sure you get the most of this move. American Apparel Sports Bra, $34, available at American Apparel; Hardtail Leggings; Nike sneakers, similar styles available at Nike

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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
Inhale, bending your elbows as you lower your upper body down with control. Hold at the bottom of the push-up for five seconds, with your chest just off the ground. Make sure to keep a straight line from your knees through your spine and to the top of your head, keeping your neck straight. Your elbows should come out at a 45-degree angle from your ribs.
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
Exhale as you push back up, keeping your abs as tight as possible. Be careful to keep your hips perfectly still, rather than dipping underneath you — squeezing your abs and your glutes can help with this.

Do three sets of 10 push-ups. When these start to get easier, think about going up onto your toes for an extra-strength core burn.
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
The Push Up Begin with your feet a few inches apart and your hands directly under your elbows and shoulders. Make sure you maintain a straight line from your heels through the top of your head. Keeping your core engaged is particularly important here.
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
Inhale as you lower yourself down, bending your elbows 45 degrees out from your ribs. Keeping that straight line is your top priority here — and doing so will require considerable core strength. Squeeze your abs and your glutes to keep your hips from falling. Hold your body for five seconds at the bottom, with your chest just off the ground.
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Photographed By Aliya Naumoff.
Exhale as you slowly push back up. Work your way up to three sets of 10.

Expert Modification: Put some height underneath your toes — a yoga block, a step, or anything flat that will raise your feet between six and 10 inches — for a serious challenge.
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