In a 60-minute training session, you should be hitting every foundational movement pattern: Squat, lunge, hinge, push, and pull.

And because we all want a flatter tummy, you should hit at least two core exercises.

Remember … Summer is coming soon 😉

But it’s important to remember that physical appearance is far from the only reason to do core exercises. In fact, it’s not even close to the most important.

We want to train all the functions of the core … so we can protect ourselves from back pain and be able to do all the activities we love from a solid, stable base.

In order to keep us healthy and strong, our core must be able to perform the following functions:

Bracing: Think, someone is about to punch you in the stomach and you need to “tighten up.”

Rotation: If you want to hit a golf ball, tennis ball or baseball better, this is an important one.

Anti-Rotation: A strong, healthy core should be able to resist rotational forces.

Anti-Extension: If you’ve ever seen someone arch their lower back when lifting weight overhead, they either have a weak core, insufficient thoracic extension, or both.

Anti-Lateral Flexion: Strong, stable hips = happy, pain-free lower back 🙂

But we’re all busy, and don’t have time to train for more than about an hour. So how are we supposed to cover all these movement patterns and train the multiple functions of our core in that amount of time?

My favorite trick is to combine strength training with core exercises.

For example:

Reverse Lunge To Pressout: Holding a weight at your chest, perform a reverse lunge and when you return to the standing position, press the weight straight in front of your chest. If you don’t feel your abs, call 911. 😉

Squat-Pallof Press Combo: Anchor a resistance band to a rack or door, create perpendicular tension with the band against your chest. Perform a squat, and from the bottom position, press straight out and back without allowing the band to pull your upper body toward the anchor.

Pushup-to-Shoulder Tap: When performing a set of bodyweight pushups, add an alternating shoulder tap to each rep. You’ll want to make sure your feet are wider than your hands, so you can perform the shoulder taps without rotating through your hips.

These are just a few examples of how you can incorporate core work into exercises you’re already doing, so you can save time and get more bang for your buck in your training sessions.