An Efficient 4-Step Workout To Strengthen Your Core

The holiday season and the vacation time that comes with it can be a blessing, but it can also bring elevated levels of stress into the body.

Traveling. Indulging. Strange sleep patterns. A total obliteration of your schedule and routine.

To help keep your digestive tract running smoothly, your spine happy, your entire body feeling strong and your mind clear and sharp, an efficient and functional workout is key. Planks are a fantastic way to work the body, breath and mind simultaneously, heating you up quickly while you focus deeply and engage fully.

Efficient, Functional Workout For The Body & Mind

Between each move, take a break in Child's Pose to rest the wrists and release the spine.

1. Plank With Knee Drops

Adding a little knee drop to your Plank deepens the engagement of the core muscles, wrapping them around the spine in this pose. It'll help to strengthen efficiently and functionally, improving and supporting your posture.

Start in a plank with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees lifted. Engage your core, squeeze your thighs and press through your heels to engage the entire body. If you feel your shoulders collapse, push into your hands and lift a bit through your upper back. As you inhale, tap your knees to the ground while keeping your upper body steady. Exhale as you lengthen the legs again. Repeat 12 times.

2. Side Plank Scoops

The twist component of this pose helps to strengthen the core muscles that act as a corset, as well as improve the mobility of the spine and the propulsion of the digestive tract.

From plank, roll onto your right hand and the outer edge of your right foot. If you need more balance, bring your bottom knee to the ground, directly under your hip. Reach your left finger tips toward the ceiling, press your right hip up toward the ceiling and draw your navel toward your spine. Inhale here and exhale as you contract the core and scoop your left arm under your right side. Inhale to lift back up. Repeat 12 times, switch sides and repeat for 12 more.

3. Side Plank Sweeps

The sweeping motion of your arm in this side plank helps you work deep into the sides of the body, connecting and strengthening the obliques where the upper body meets the lower body.

From your plank position, roll onto your right hand and outer edge of your right foot. Bring your left foot to the left edge of your mat, bending your knee directly out of your hip. You'll be in what looks like a fallen-down, sideways lunge. Keep your top leg at 90 degrees and your bottom leg long. Press into your left foot for more support. Inhale and reach your left arm overhead by your ear. Exhale as you engage your oblique, along the side of the waist, and reach your arm toward the ceiling. Repeat 12 times and switch sides.

4. Downward Dog Planks

After working through the sides of the body individually, the Downward Dog and Plank combo helps to rebalance the right and left sides, while continuing to strengthen your core.

Come into your plank position. Take a breath in and as you exhale, engage the core as you press your hip up toward the ceiling for Downward Dog. Your arms, legs, and spine are straight, so you are in the shape of an upside-down "V". Inhale back to Plank. Exhale to Downward Dog. Repeat 10 times. Finish by resting in Child's pose, sitting your hips to your heels and reaching your arms forward.

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