And in a new seven-minute workout released today in collaboration with STRONG by Zumba, Oprea applies that philosophy to a series of core moves. The end result? A bodyweight circuit that Oprea manages to make look both seriously fun and also pretty damn challenging. You can check out the video, which features Oprea and two STRONG by Zumba instructors demoing the moves, here.
“I was really trying to make we sure got all angles of the core,” says Oprea when explaining her approach to crafting the workout. “And then of course we wanted to bring in the STRONG by Zumba style,” she adds, which is centered on high-intensity routines choreographed to music. This core workout is one of two 7-minute routines Oprea created in collaboration with the fitness program. Check out the other workout, which focuses on glutes and legs, here.
This workout targets your midsection, pretty much all over, including the rectus abdominis (what you think when you think abs), obliques (muscles on the sides of your stomach), and transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle that wraps around your spine and sides). Though it will also get your heart pumping a little bit, says Oprea, it’s not a cardio-focused workout per se. Instead, the primary aim is good, solid core strengthening (though several of the moves, like the plank variations, will also work your shoulders, Oprea adds).
In general, there are loads of reasons to strengthen your core. Per Oprea, “core strength is the stability for your whole body.” And as SELF previously reported, the stability that a strong core provides can help you lift heavy objects (both in the gym and in everyday life), reduce lower-back pain, and in general improve your overall strength and fitness. Other perks of a sturdy midsection include better balance and better posture. So yeah, it pays to prioritize your core and this core-centric workout will help you do just that.
On the difficulty scale, Oprea rates this workout at about a 7 out of 10. “But it could be modified fairly easily if it needed to be,” she says. Above all, “the most important thing is that they have perfect form through this workout,” says Oprea. “But also smile and have fun and enjoy the music.”
Because the workout was choreographed to specific music, you should play Oprea’s video as you attempt it yourself. The circuit flows from one move to the next with no set rest (though you should take breaks as needed depending on your fitness level—it’s more than okay to modify and always better to do moves safely and correctly than rapidly with poor form).
Also, to do all of these moves correctly, it’s important to continually engage your core, says Oprea. To do so, think about tilting your pelvis in, pulling your belly button in toward your spine, and keeping your low back pressed flat into the ground, she says.
As you perform these alternating leg lowers, your back will naturally want to arch, says Oprea. Don’t let it. Instead, focus on engaging your core by tilting your pelvis inward. If you find yourself unable to control your back arch, bend your knees slightly as you lower your legs. Or bend your knees and lower just your heels to the ground instead of your entire leg. Both adjustments will make the move easier, says Oprea.
Now repeat moves 1 through 4, and while doing moves 1 and 2 again, switch legs so that your right leg is crossed over your left quad.
If you feel wobbly as you plank and crunch, place one foot behind the other (instead of stacking them) to help with stability, says Oprea. You can also add stability by dropping your right knee to the ground and performing the plank side and front crunches from there, she suggests. Just make sure your elbow stays stacked underneath your shoulder, she adds.
Your goal on this multipart move, says Oprea, is to not let your hips wiggle as you tap your shoulders and move between the forearm and high plank positions. Do this by continually keeping your core tight and squeezing your glutes, she says.
As you drop your hips side to side, keep your glutes squeezed and your core tight. “Don’t let that back arch or sag,” says Oprea. As with the previous moves, think about tilting your pelvis in throughout the reps.
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If you perform this circuit correctly and all the way through as Oprea demos, it’s “such a killer,” she says, as your core has “zero rest.” That said, “take a little break if you need to,” she adds. After all, core strength isn’t something you build overnight, so it’s more than okay to go at your own speed and modify as needed.
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