A strong core is integral for all other workouts. Without a strong core, gaining muscle and toning your body elsewhere will be extremely difficult. The reason is pretty simple — your core, as the name suggests is at the center of your body. If the center of anything anything isn’t strong, the system will not function properly. Moreover, there is a common misconception about what your core is. It’s not just your ab and oblique muscles, it’s everything that stabilizes your spine and pelvis. That means it’s the muscles all up and down your back, your glutes, your thighs, and yes, your abs. There are tons of muscles within this region, all of which are important parts of your core. So, how do we build a better core? Try these exercises: The Sliding Inchworm Place a towel down on the ground and get into a plank position, with the tips of your toes on the towel. Slowly slide your toes towards your hands, lowering your heels in the process so that your feet are now flat on the towel. Slide forward as much as possible while keeping your palms and feet firmly planted to the ground until your body is in an upside down U shape. Then walk out with your hands to get back into a plank position. Hold the plank position for a few seconds before walking your hands back in so that you’re in the upside down U position again. Slide your feet backwards while engaging your core for stability. You will now be the plank position you originally started in. Repeat 10 times. Plank on a Balance Ball This modification of a regular plant raises the intensity as you’ll have to engage many more muscles, especially the obliques, to stabilize the ball underneath your elbows. Always keep your body in a straight line and always keep proper form — that is how your core strengthens, by forcing your body to remain in control. The closer your feet are together, the more difficult the exercise will be. Hold the position for as long as you can. Side Balance Crunch Start with your left knee and left hand on the floor and your right arm straight up in the air. Extend your right leg until your body forms a straight line. Then pull your right knee back in towards your torso and your right elbow towards your right knee. This will crunch your abs, but the focus will be on the obliques. Straighten your arm and leg and repeat 10 times before switching sides. Dragon Flag Advanced Core Exercise This core blasting exercise was made famous by none other than Bruce Lee. Laying on a hard flat surface, lock your arms in a fixed overhead position by grabbing on to something. If you’re on a bench, you can place your hands next to your head and grip the sides of the bench, or you can grip a stable object overhead. Keeping your body rigid from your shoulders to your toes, trust your legs up as high as your flexibility allows. Keep your core and legs engaged the entire time for complete body control. Flailing around can cause body strain and injury. Once lifted, lower your legs in a controlled motion without letting any part of your body touch the bench other than the upper back and shoulder. Repeat as many times as you can. There’s also nothing wrong with the standard situps and crunches, just don’t let those simple workouts define your entire core workout. Mixing up the exercises will keep you entertained and challenged as well as keep your body guessing and continually responding to new exercises. The body gets bored and unresponsive the same way your mind does, so mix it up and get that new core!