Fitness Tips

The 8-Minute Core and Back Workout That Makes Planks Look Like Child’s Play

Zoe Weiner

Each month, a new trainer takes us through four of the most grueling workouts they have in their back pocket. Follow along weekly for new ways to sweat it out with us. See All

When it comes time to target your core in any given workout, most of us start crunching and planking until our abs are on fire. But while the front of our trunks tend to get all of the attention, in order to truly strengthen your midsection, you’ll want to think of it as an entire, 360-degree entity, which means hitting your back just as hard.

Your core is made up of at least 14 different muscles (though, there’s some disagreement amongst trainers about what the true number really is)—all of which are connected to the spinal column. The “anterior” muscles are in the front, down your stomach, and the “posterior’ muscles run along the back from your shoulders down to your booty.  “It is important to include this in your core work, because it’s part of the foundation from which all movements stem,” Sarah Pifer, ACE-certified personal trainer and district fitness manager at Gold’s Gym, previously told Well+Good.

Because we spend so much time sitting (especially these days), most of our movements are very anterior-dominant, which means that the muscles in the front of our bodies become shortened while the ones in the back are lengthened and weakened. “This imbalance leads to low back pain,”  says Pfier.  “If we strengthen the posterior core, and the entire posterior chain, it can help prevent this from occurring.”

So in order to strengthen your core to its full potential, you’ll want to target your back just as frequently as you normally would your front. In order to help you do it, Le Sweat founder Charlee Atkins put together an 8-minute at-home series that will allow you to hit both in one fell swoop. To amp things up, you can add a dumbbell, but even without one you’ll get plenty of burn on both sides of your body simply by using your own bodyweight.

Follow along with the video below to light your core on fire. All 360 degrees of it.

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