The Only Exercise You Need to Sculpt Your Core

If you’re familiar with professional volleyball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings| chances are you’re familiar with her strength ¡ª?most noticeably her core (ahem| defined abs). But a strong core goes way beyond washboard abs; it helps to prevent injuries| improve posture| and remedy chronic back pain.

Before you hop down on the floor to whip out 50 crunches| take a cue from Kerri and opt for a different exercise: Pilates 100s. “[This] basic Pilates move turns me into a furnace from the inside out|” says Kerri| who is also the official spokesperson for Almond Breeze. “It just works the deep intrinsic muscles| which we need; you should be working on strength from the inside out.” Kerri also adds that Pilates helps give her better body and breath awareness| making her more mindful overall. “It’s more subtle| but I’ve gotten really good results from 100s.”

Here’s how to do the move yourself.

Start lying on your back with your legs in tabletop position (hips and knees at right angles). Engage your deep abs to round your lower spine into the floor.Exhale and lift your upper back off the floor| until the bottom tips of your shoulder blades skim the floor. Straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle (but make sure your low back is staying connected to the floor). Reach your arms toward your feet. Your arms will be about two inches off the floor. Pump your arms up and down with a small range of motion| keeping your elbows straight. Inhale for five arm pumps| and exhale for five pumps. That completes one set or cycle. Repeat the cycle nine more times for a total of 100 pumps.Keep your upper body stable while your arms pump.

For more details| read Back to Basics: Pilates 100s.

Image Sources: POPSUGAR Photography and Andrea Servidone Pelto