This 5-Minute Ab Workout Strengthens And Tones Your Whole Core

No sit-ups in sight.
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A lot of workouts focus on the abs, but in reality, your abdominal muscles make up just a small section of your core.

For a more sustainable workout that builds strength and a firmer torso all over, it’s wise to look at the entire package.

“Your ‘core’ is actually a collection of muscles that surround your torso, wrapping around your trunk, spine, and hips,” explains Maya Culin, pilates instructor at Ten Health & Fitness. “Think of your core muscles as the connection from your upper body to your lower body.”

Core strength is important as it supports and stabilises the body, making it key to maintaining good posture.

“Not only does a strong core help with balance and posture, it also makes our everyday activities easier and reduces the risk of injury in everything from reaching, bending, twisting and lifting movements to our seated posture,” says Culin.

“More vigorous activities like pilates, running and lifting weights will also benefit from a stronger core, reducing the injury risk, making your workouts more efficient and improving performance.”

Below, Culin has provided HuffPost with a quick, five-minute workout that’ll help you build a firmer core, and start to develop a strong, stable and functional body.

1. Toe taps

Ten Health & Fitness

Start in a table-top position on your back, knees directly over the hips, hands over shoulders. Keep the belly button drawn in to maintain a neutral spine, and a little gap through the small of the back (just enough to fit half of a hand in).

Keeping that alignment, breathe out as you tap one foot to the floor, breathe in as you come back to table-top. As the toe touches the floor make sure your back doesn’t start to arch by keeping the ribcage drawn down. Work through alternating legs for one minute maintaining the breathing pattern throughout.

Want it harder? Tap the toe further away. Need it easier? Tap the toe closer in and don’t raise the arms – keep the hands down on the floor.

2. 4-point hover

Ten Health & Fitness

Start in a four-point kneeling position on the floor, shoulders over hands and hips over knees. Look for a straight line from the shoulders to the hips. Tuck your toes, take a breath out, then push through your palms and hover both knees an inch off the floor and hold.

When holding, continue to breathe fully. As you breathe, feel the belly button draw into the spine, and imagine the hip bones drawing together to activate the inner core muscles. Hold the hover position for 30 seconds, touch the knees down, then repeat once more.

Want it harder? Alternating shoulder touches with your hands. Need it easier? Do six lots of 10-second holds instead and build up from there.

3. Bird extension

Ten Health & Fitness

Start in a four-point kneeling position, with shoulders over top of hands, hips over top of knees. Look for a straight line from the shoulders to the hips. As you take a breath out, draw the belly button into the spine and actively extend the right arm and left leg together.

Breathe in as you come back to four-point kneeling. The glutes activate as you point the toes to extend down the back of the leg. Work through this exercise, alternating sides for one minute.

Want it harder? Start by lifting into a four-point hover position, then extend the arm and leg. Need it easier? Keep both hands on the floor and alternate legs.

4. Plank into alternating toe taps

Ten Health & Fitness

Start in a plank position, with shoulders directly above the hands, and a straight line from the shoulders to the feet with a slight tuck of the pelvis.

Take a breath out as you drive the hips up to the ceiling, pushing through the right palm as the left arm extends to the right foot, crossing the centre of the body. You should feel the scoop through the abdominals as you lift the hips up. Breathe in as you come back to plank. Work through this movement alternating arms for one minute.

Want it harder? Take a longer hold as you lift the hips up. Need it easier? Keep both hands on the floor.

5. Side plank with thread the needle

Ten Health & Fitness

Start with the right hand on the floor, left foot crosses over the top of the right foot. Push through the hips to find a straight line from the top shoulder down to the feet, making sure the hips are stacked vertically. Thread the top arm through the gap on the underneath side of the body. Feel a deeper connection as you breathe out to activate your oblique muscles and lower core. Breathe in as you return to side plank. Work through 30 seconds on each side.

Want it harder? Hold the thread the needle position longer. Need it easier? Just hold the side plank.

Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.

HuffPost UK / Rebecca Zisser