Core Workout

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

A stronger midsection gives your spine the support it needs and helps you look slimmer instantly!

The SilverSneakers Summer Shape-Up Challenge, which runs until June 30, is free and open to SilverSneakers members and non-members. Sign up here to download a bingo card—and enter for a chance to win $500. And don’t forget to invite friends and family!

Want to look like you’ve lost a couple pounds without going on a crash diet? Of course, you do!

The secret: stronger abdominal and back muscles, which help you stand taller and with more confidence, instead of slumping down with poor posture like so many of us do.

Even better, the benefits of a stronger midsection go way beyond appearances. A stronger core improves stability, prevents back pain, and makes it easier to move your body as one unit.

Ready to show your midsection some love? Try this core workout.

How the Core Workout Works

All you need is some open floor space and a mat. This workout includes a cardio section, so you may also want to have access to your favorite cardio machine, or you can simply march in place.

Warm up with at least three to five minutes of walking or the warmup exercises from this 20-minute cardio follow-along workout. Perform each exercise in order for one round of the circuit, and do three rounds total. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

If floor movements are challenging for you, try this 30-minute core and coordination follow-along workout.

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Exercise #1: Plank Up-Down

Do 20 reps, alternating sides

Lie on your stomach on the floor with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and forearms flat on the floor. Focus your eyes between your hands. Your legs should be resting behind you, knees hip-width apart (or slightly farther apart for extra balance).

Lift your hips toward the ceiling to balance on your forearms and feet, and squeeze your upper back, core, and glutes. This is your starting position.

Bend one knee to gently touch the floor. Pause, then straighten your knee back to starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat with the other leg, and continue alternating. Do 20 reps on each side.

Exercise #2: Half Snow Angel

Do 20 reps, alternating sides

Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms down by your sides, palms facing down. Brace your core. This is your starting position.

Keeping your heel lightly in contact with the floor, slide one foot out to the side, as if you’re making half of a snow angel. Pause, then use your core muscles to bring your foot back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat with the other leg, and continue alternating. Do 20 reps on each side.

Exercise #3: Better Bicycle

Do 20 reps each side

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet about hip-width apart, and heels about one foot away from your buttocks. Place your left arm out to the side on the floor, and bend your right arm 90 degrees in “touchdown” position with your palm facing up. Brace your core to minimize the arch in your lower back. This is your starting position.

From here, bring your right hand down and left knee up to meet in front of your chest. Pause, then lower back to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.

If you feel a big arch in your lower back, place a pillow or rolled blanket on the floor beneath you. Try to maintain contact with the pillow or blanket to help fire up your core.

Exercise #4: Walrus

Do 10 reps

Lie on your stomach with legs straight, feet flexed, and your hands on the floor below shoulders, elbows bent. Keeping your lower body steady, squeeze your rear and press through your hands to lift your chest off the floor a few inches. Keep your gaze on the floor so the back of your neck stays long—no scrunching!

Maintaining your lifted chest, lift one leg about two inches off the floor. Pause, then lower your leg back down. Repeat with your other leg.

Finally, lower your chest back to the floor to complete one rep. Do 10 reps.

Exercise #5: Tiny Curlup

Do 20 reps

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, and heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Reach both arms up toward the ceiling, and brace your core. This is your starting position.

Moving smoothly, engage your abs to raise your upper back, shoulders, and head just a couple of inches off the floor. Pause at the top, still reaching your arms straight up, then release to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.

Recovery: Choose a Cardio Option

Do 1:30 minutes

After you finish the final exercise in the circuit, pick your favorite form of cardio for a minute and a half. You can choose a stationary or recumbent bike, elliptical, treadmill, or rowing machine, or you can simply march in place.

Whichever cardio you choose, aim to work at a level of 4 to 6 out of 10, with 10 being the hardest, for the full minute and a half.

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