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A 15-Minute Routine to Strengthen Your Core and Back from Fitness Expert Denise Austin

No equipment. No impact. Just 5 simple moves.

We’re indoors more often these days, and now is a great time to get in the best shape of your life. Starting an at-home fitness routine can seem challenging and confusing, but luckily, fitness expert Denise Austin, who we also teamed up with to bring you some of her favorite health and fitness tips in our print magazine, Denise Austin Fit Over 50 (Buy on Amazon, $12.99), is here to tell us exactly what to do and how to do it!

We first spoke to Austin about specifically targeting our glutes and legs, and now we’re moving on to the core and back. Keeping a strong core can give you a flat belly, but it can do so much more than that! Keeping your abdominal muscles in shape is also great for your digestion, and it can help eliminate back pain and improve your posture.

Having strong back muscles is also super important right now, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting, say, hunched over a laptop or computer for hours on end. Keeping those back muscles strong will relieve shoulder and neck tension, lower back and hip pain, and will help you sit up straighter and taller.

Below, check out Denise’s five favorite moves for a strong core and back, along with this tutorial!

Standing Knee-Raise

The standing knee raise is a great move for targeting those lower ab muscles. That means no more belly flab! This move also helps improve posture and alignment. To perform the standing knee raise, follow the instructions below.

  1. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows back, setting up as though you were performing crunches on the ground.
  2. Lift your right knee up as high as you can, keeping the chest lifted, and place your foot back down.
  3. Do the same motion with the left knee.
  4. Perform 10 reps on each side, or one full minute.

Reverse Crunch

This moves targets all those muscles below the belly button as well as the back muscles. To perform the reverse crunch, follow the instructions below.

  1. Lay flat on your back, placing your hands down by your sides next to your hips.
  2. Lift both your knees so that they form a 90 degree angle.
  3. Engage your abs by pressing your legs together.
  4. Slowly, press into the ground with your palms and use your core strength to lift your hips off the ground, then place them back down.
  5. Perform 20 reps, or one full minute of crunches.

The Bicycle

This move targets nearly all of the muscles in the abdomen, giving you a nice flat belly. It also targets those harder-to-reach muscles on your sides called the obliques, which help you achieve that hourglass figure! To perform the bicycle, follow the instructions below.

  1. From your previous starting position on your back with knees lifted, lift your chest off the ground.
  2. Slowly twist your body and draw your right elbow towards your left knee while straightening the right leg out, keeping the chest lifted.
  3. Twist over to the other side, drawing your left elbow towards your right knee while straightening the left leg out in front of your.
  4. Perform 20 bicycle crunches, or one full minute.

The Plank

The plank is one of the best core exercises — or full body exercises — out there. This move is super simple, yet it’s powerful at toning muscles like your transverse abdominus which keep your spine strong, straight, and healthy. This move will tone up your abs, side body, and back all at once. To perform the plank, follow the instructions below.

  1. Begin on all fours, and drop down onto your elbows.
  2. Pressing into your elbows, extend your legs back behind you. Press your toes into the floor and lift your hips up.
  3. Try to imagine that your neck, shoulders, and hips are all in one line. Pull your belly up and in, drawing your naval towards your spine.
  4. Hold your plank for 10 to 20 seconds at a time and take a break by resting the knees on the ground for five seconds, then lifting back up again.
  5. Perform the plank for a total of one minute.

The Back Strengthener

This move works the entire core and back. Not only will those lower back muscles be stronger leading to less pain, but you’ll also tone up the muscles surrounding your shoulder blades and neck. It will help improve your posture and your balance! To perform the back strengthener, follow the instructions below.

  1. Starting on all fours, extend your right leg straight back behind you.
  2. Lift your right foot off the ground, and straighten your leg so your hip, knee, and ankle are in one line.
  3. While that right leg is lifted, lift your left arm and extend it straight out in front of of you.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then switch to the other side.
  5. Perform the back strengthener, alternating sides for one minute.

You can repeat this circuit three to five times to complete your entire workout. With just about 15 minutes a day of effort, you’ll have a stronger core and a brand new back in no time.

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