Weekly Workout: Core Challenge

After a whirlwind month, we’re back with Trainer Jani and a whole new Weekly Workout! It’s targeting an area pretty much all of us want to work on–strengthening our cores! Check out our other Weekly Workouts here, and if you haven’t picked up a copy of our new book that will help with a healthier lifestyle, you can snag one here!

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Trainer JaniOne of the more common questions I have been asked over my years in the fitness industry is, “What exercise can I do to get rid of this?” as they are pinching a particular area of their body, i.e. back of arms, belly, or upper thighs.  Spot reducing, a long-viewed myth, is the belief that training a specific muscle will result in fat loss in that area of the body. For instance, doing 100’s of crunches in hopes of losing fat around the belly.  For years the word has been out that spot reduction doesn’t work, yet we constantly hear “Tone up those abs! Melt that fat! Feel the burn!” Or we see advertised in magazines on how to get rid of the “muffin top, granny arms, saddle bags,” or how to get those abs from “flab to fab!”  Simply put, it is not possible to reduce fat in one area by exercising that body part alone.  You can’t “tone” fat.  Despite what many advertisers want you to believe, there are no pills, creams, or special equipment (remember the thigh master? Ha!) that will get rid of unwanted fat in specific areas.  So what is the answer?  Same thing it’s always been.  Fat is lost from the entire body as a result of a clean diet and regular exercise.   I know…nothing new or exciting right?   But before you toss out all those ab blast videos, or decide those butt and gut workouts are a waste of time, consider this: you can and should strengthen specific muscle groups.  As you clean up your diet, keep your portions in control, and include regular physical exercise and strength training, you will gradually lose inches from all over, revealing those nicely toned muscles in your arms, abs, glutes, and thighs.

Today I want to focus on the importance of strengthening the core.  Your core muscles include all of the muscles of your mid-section including your abdominal muscles (front, side, and deep) low-mid back muscles and all of the hip muscles (glutes, hip flexors, pelvic floor muscles).  Having good core strength is vital in all physical daily activities.  It will improve your posture and balance, can eliminate lower back pain, prevent injuries, and is crucial for advancing your athletic performance.  Your core is your body’s center and a strong center will make all other areas of your body stronger and more efficient as all multi-joint movements are initiated from your core.  So whether you are hitting a golf ball, kicking a soccer ball, running hills, swinging a tennis racket, carrying kids or groceries, doing housework, yardwork, etc., a strong core means a stronger body.

So the workout this week is focused on strengthening your core.  All you will need is an interval timer and a mat.  You will set your timer for 24 rounds of 45 seconds work, and 15 seconds rest.  If you don’t have an interval timer, you can download one on your smart phone (such as Seconds) or just use a regular timer and set it for 24 minutes and at every 45 seconds, take a 15 second break, and start again at the next minute.  There are 6 different exercises.  You will repeat each exercise 4 times before moving on to the next exercise, for a total of 24 rounds.  Try doing this workout 3 to 4 times this week.  You can do it alone, or in addition to your other scheduled workouts.


We have Jani demonstrating all of these moves, so if you’re wondering what to do, just check out the video at the end!


Weekly Workout

Core Challenge Workout 

Set timer for 24 rounds of 45 seconds work and 15 seconds rest.  Do each exercise 4 times before moving to the next exercise.

1.   Hi/lo plank walk with 2 knees (right lead for 45 seconds, then left lead for 45 seconds, repeat)

2.   Roll-up to opposite toe touch (alternate right and left.)

3.   Plank pike/jack then rotate to side knee crunch.  Alternate sides

4.   Side to side knee crunches.

5.   Low plank tap outs

6.   Alternate 1 reverse curl, 1 roll-up. Note: Make sure to wait until the heels are on the ground before starting the roll-up.



  1. Loved this workout! The hardest for me was the side to side crunches. Are you supposed to keep your legs and shoulders off the ground as you roll to the next side? Tough!

    1. Yes. But make whatever modifications you need. You can also just bring in one knee (the top one) to make it a little easier.

  2. This was AWESOME. I loved seeing all the moves in the video because after reading them I was no where close to what they should be. Thank you Jani!

  3. This sounds great! I am almost two months postpartum, so I’m trying to get my abs back together. My core is so weak, but I’m definitely going to work up to this (and all your other wonderful workouts!)

  4. Ditto to all the above comments — excited for a new workout, looks intense, can’t wait to try, might need the modifications but I’m going to go for it. Also, cute haircut!

  5. Your posts are great Jani. I injured my back last summer and doing all the regular core exercises I used to do like the ones list above too often flare up my back. I know if I could get my core strength back it would do wonders for the back pain. Do you have any thoughts or modifications? It would really make a difference in my world.

    1. Back pain can be tricky, especially when you have previously injured it, you don’t know if the pain in coming from the injury, or is it just weak core muscles? A modified low plank hold on your knees would be a good place to start. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds as long as your back does not hurt, and gradually build up the time you hold it. Then as you get stronger, hold the plank on your toes. There are always traditional crunches as well. You might also look into a beginners Pilates or TRX suspension training class. Both are excellent for strengthening the core and a good instructor will be able to show you modifications. Back pain is the pits, so sorry! Good luck!

  6. wow i don’t know about this one, my core is not that healthy and neither is my back. and i don’t see Jani giving any modifications for beginners here either.
    i know it is meant to be challenging, but looks like it is targeted to the very fit people. so i might save it and work up to it after i do a month or two of Valerie Bertenelies losing it and keeping fit.

    1. Hi Heather. Try doing just a few reps of each exercise and work your way up. I should have shown modifications on the video but completely spaced it, sorry! But for the 1st exercise, you can do the plank walk on your knees. For the low plank tap outs, just forget the tap outs, and hold the low plank, but come down to your knees for a modification. And for the last exercise, switch out the roll-up for a crunch. As you get stronger, try the roll-up, but you can grab the outside of your thighs and pull yourself up as needed. Good luck!

  7. Thank goodness the weekly workout is back! I didn’t realize how much I had come to depend on your workout being there-ready to go-until it was gone!! Thank again!

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