This Quick & Foolproof Core Exercise Looks Easy But Oh How It's Not
On the quest for the perfect move for a strong core—one that's quick and foolproof, but still killer—there's one that stands out among the rest. It's called tabletop hold or tabletop press, and it's a spinoff of the common yoga asana, tabletop.
But this is no ordinary tabletop. Tabletop hold looks too easy to be true. You might look at someone doing it and not realize they're seriously exerting themselves (until you catch the shaking).
So if you're looking for a new ab exercise to incorporate on core day, this is it. Here's how to do it.
Tabletop hold (or tabletop press)
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees, stacked directly over your hips, and shins parallel to the floor.
From there, place your forearms onto your thighs below your knees. Press your forearms into your thighs, lifting your shoulder blades off the mat.
Once here, keep your low back glued to the mat by pulling your belly button toward your spine and engaging your core. This is where the work happens—the curve that keeps your lower back off the ground in a neutral position should not be there, which will really light up your abdominals.
Press your forearms into your thighs and your thighs into your forearms while engaging your core. Remember to keep your knees over your hips (it's normal to want to bring them closer to your face, but try not to). Continue to hold and press as hard as you can, keeping your shoulder blades off the mat.
Remember, shaking means you're doing it correctly! Hold for 10 to 12 breaths, release the press, and continue with two more sets.
Kick it up a notch.
Who knew something so seemingly simple could hurt so good? And you can take it a step further if you'd like, with these advancements.
Taking a yoga block between your forearms and thighs, press both forearms into the block while maintaining that contraction in your core. Slowly start to shift more force into your left forearm, in order to hold the block in place between your left forearm and left thigh.
With both forearms still on the block, point your right toe. Slowly start drawing your right knee away from the block, and keeping the 90-degree bend in your right knee, tap your right toe to the mat. From there, bring your right knee back to the block, hold for the inhale, and then switch sides on your exhale.
Your upper body and the block should stay still in the isometric hold, shoulder blades lifted off of the mat, as you lift and lower alternating legs.
You can also try this with straight legs rather than keeping the 90-degree bend. In this case, slowly straighten your right leg as you lower it to hover 2 inches off the mat, hold for a breath, then bring your knee back to the block. Hold, and then switch sides.
Use your breath to guide your movement, inhaling as you bring your knee back to center and exhaling as you lower your leg toward the mat.
You can do three reps on one leg and then switch, or alternate legs until you've done three on both sides.
Give this move a go the next time you're looking for a quick core workout—you're sure to feel the effects. And for more core inspo, check out five benefits of working your core that have nothing to do with abs, along with this 10-minute core-strengthening yoga sequence.
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Amanda Quadrini is on the Brand Partnerships team at mindbodygreen. She grew up in Southern California where she attended San Diego State University. She received her degree in Kinesiology and was also a member of the Division I Women's Cross Country and Track team. Amanda loves running (has completed three marathons) and is a certified yoga and pilates instructor. Amanda lives in Brooklyn, New York.