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5 creative core exercises

strong core is a fundamental basic for a strong athlete. Abdominal muscles help stabilize your body—crucial when you need to stop, switch directions, or perform exercises like burpees. Solid abs also boost power and endurance, making everything from box jumps to running feel easier.

But crunches should not be the extent of your middle management. Add one or more of these moves to your workout to firm up at the gym, in the pool, or during a strength session at home.

Grab a medicine ball and stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with a wall on your left. Step forward with your left leg and lower into a lunge, so your thigh is parallel to the ground while twisting from your waist as far as you can to the right, bringing medicine ball to right hip. Engage core, then explode out of lunge, straightening right knee up as you throw ball across body to wall. Catch ball for one rep, completing all reps on one side before repeating on the other side.

Facing away from the anchor point, rest each foot in a cradle. Stack hands underneath the shoulders in an elevated high plank position. While engaging the core, draw both legs a few inches away from the midline of the body while keeping the hips in line with the shoulders. Use the outer hips and inner thighs to pull the legs back to the starting position. From the high plank, pike the hips towards the ceiling. Squeeze the low abs as you stack hips above the shoulders. Gently extend the legs back to the high plank position.

Start in a seated V position balancing on your tailbone/glutes. Extend your legs in front of you while keeping your feet together. While your legs are extending outward your upper torso is also extending backward until your entire body is almost flat. Then bring your body back to the starting position with your knees bent, balancing on your tailbone/glutes. 

Hold the edge of the pool and position your legs on the edge, knees bent 90 degrees. Pull in your abs and extend your arms overhead. Slowly lean back until the back of your head touches the water, then immediately crunch up. 

Lie face up with legs together and extended, and arms extended overhead. Engage your core to bring your hands and feet toward each other so your body forms a V. Touch your hands and feet, then slowly lower to the start position; repeat.