By the time most of us reach our twenties, we find that building core strength is an uphill battle. Recreational sports are often dropped to work long, sedentary jobs in an office and provide a taxi service for our children. As our range of motion decreases, the body’s flexibility and balance tends to hit the floor.

The core doesn’t begin and end with our abdominals, and so when we do attempt to tighten our midsection, many of approach strengthening our muscles with a limited understanding of how to get the best possible results. While your chances of out-performing an Olympic athlete on the pommel horse may seem out of reach, you can still learn from the best when it comes to improving your own physical fitness and getting the best from core workouts.

And when it comes to learning from the best, there’s nobody better than U.S. Olympic gymnast Sam Mikulak, who has worked on his core strength more than most. The six-time U.S. national all-around champion, eight-time NCAA champion, and Olympic athlete takes a holistic approach to training, meaning that you won’t have to jump through hoops to make your own rapid improvements.

Elite athletes know that training doesn’t simply begin when you enter the gym, and success comes from understanding the connection between your mind and body. There’s a whole new mentality that you can adopt to get the very best from each rep.

Here are Sam’s nine sensible tips for athletes of all abilities.