Why Trainers Say You Should Start Every Single Workout With a Plank

Photo: Getty Images/fabio formaggio / 500px
Think of your core as the Cher Horowitz of your skeletal muscular system. It's the leader of the pack, the glue that holds things together, and the central force that influences everything that you do (including your workouts, which remains true in both cases). Pretty much every move that you make starts from your core—think about how many times you've heard trainers tell you to engage your core during a fitness routine—which is why every workout you do, whether it's running, spinning, Pilates, or strength training, should start with some sort of core warmup. You know how some trainers will choose to start their classes with a (hellish) series of planks? Well, there's a reason for that.

"It’s important to start a workout with a core warmup because the core is the center of all–in every sense of the word," says Obé fitness trainer and Torch'd creator Isaac Calpito, adding that when you start by activating your core, you ensure proper alignment with the rest of your moves. "With a warm, engaged core, you allow the rest of your body to move from a strong foundation. The stronger your foundation, the deeper you can dig into every other muscle properly."

So regardless of the move that you happen to be doing, it'll be affected by the attention you give to your core, he says. "Proper extension through your limbs, accurate and specific targeting of certain muscles to tone and lift all come from a warm, engaged, and strong core."

Here, he shares the five-minute core warmup that he uses to start his daily workout. The series pairs perfectly with Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" and Taylor Swift's "Cruel Summer" (Calpito's playlist of choice) and will have your core so warm that it's practically on fire.

1. Start in a forearm plank with your shoulders directly over your elbows, hips in line with your shoulders. As you maintain that alignment, feel your lower belly pull into your spine without curving your spine. Lengthen your thighs and squeeze your booty tight. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.

2. Without dropping to the ground, alternate touching your left and right hips down to the ground, slowly going through a proper plank position between moves. Identify every fiber of your core working through this movement. Do at least 25 dips on each side.

3. Repeat full series three times.

For a refresher on proper plank form, check out the demonstration below.

Another (major) benefit of working your core? The possibility of having a "coregasm," which is in fact a real thing. And these standing ab exercises are so effective, they'll make you want to ditch your mat.

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