This routine takes about a half–hour, and you want to do it three times a week.
Plank: 1–2 holds of 30–60 seconds
Get into plank position, which is also called a modified push–up position: You’re facedown, with your weight resting on your forearms and toes, forearms aligned with your torso, elbows directly beneath your shoulders, and your body in a straight line from neck to ankles.
Side plank: 1–2 holds of 20–40 seconds (each side)
Lie on your left side with your legs straight and your right leg on top of your left. Position yourself so your weight rests on your left forearm and the outside edge of your left foot. Your left elbow should be directly beneath your shoulder, with your upper arm perpendicular to the floor. Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from neck to ankles. You want your shoulders square and on a plane that’s perpendicular to the floor, as if your back was supported by a wall. You can place your right hand on your right hip or left shoulder.
Hip raise: 1–2 sets of up to 15 reps
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms out to your sides. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders.
Elevated push-up: 1–2 sets of 12–15 reps
Cosgove is no fan of the “girl” push–up, with knees on the floor. One of the main benefits of the push–up is the way it uses the core muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis, and most of that benefit is lost when you cut your own body off at the knees. Instead, do push–ups with your hands elevated as high as they need to go. If you’re an absolute beginner, or recovering from something no one should ever have to recover from, you can even do wall push–ups: stand a few feet from a wall, lean forward, rest your hands on the wall, come up on your toes so your body forms a straight line, and do the exercise with whatever range of motion you can. The point is, always do the hardest push–up variation you can manage for the required repetitions.
Standing cable row: 1–2 sets of 12–15 reps (each arm)
Set the pulley of a cable machine to waist height, and attach a stirrup handle. Grab the handle in your non–dominant hand (your left if you’re right-handed) and step back from the machine until you have tension in the cable with your arm fully extended in front of you. Stand facing the machine with your feet shoulder–width apart, toes pointed forward, knees and hips bent slightly, chest up, shoulders back, and your working arm extended out in front of you. (You can rest your nonworking hand on your thigh or hip, or hold it behind your back, whichever you prefer.) Tighten your hip and torso muscles to brace your core. Pull the handle to the side of your torso, keeping your shoulders forward and minimizing rotation. Return to the starting position, do all your reps, switch arms, and repeat the set with your other arm.
Goblet squat: 1–2 sets of 12–15 reps
Grab a dumbbell or weight plate and hold it with both hands against your chest, just below your chin. (It’s called a goblet squat because if the weight were a cup, you could drink out of it.) Stand with your feet shoulder–width apart, push your hips back, and squat as described above. Keep your eyes focused forward and your torso as upright as possible.