A strong core is an invaluable asset. It improves your posture, balance, and stability, as well as helping to reduce back pain.
You use your core in nearly all of your daily activities, therefore performing core strengthening exercises is virtually guaranteed to improve the quality of your life. Core exercises are meant to increase every set of muscles in your core, not just your abs. Your core is made up of:
- The Erector spinae. A back muscle that extends your trunk.
- Rectus abdominis. Commonly known as your “abs,” they help you bend forward.
- Obliques. Internal and external obliques help you rotate or bend your trunk.
- Transverse abdominis. This muscle wraps around the front and side of your trunk and stabilizes your pelvis.
- Multifidus. The multifidus is located in your back and supports your spine.
The best core strengthening exercises will vary for each individual depending on your current strength and physical condition, as well as your strength training experience.
Many people choose to join core exercise classes to make sure they are performing safely, as well as increasing their motivation levels.
But if you’d like to know what you can do on your own, or what to expect in core exercise classes, we’ve broken down the 6 best core strengthening exercises for beginners, intermediate, and advanced exercisers.
6 Best Core Strengthening Exercises:
Disclaimer: If you have an existing injury, you should seek medical advice as to what exercises are suitable for your condition. The exercises outlined below are in a general nature and in no way should be deemed as advice. Please contact us if you would like a personal assessment, we’d be more than happy to help you.
Best Beginner Core Exercises
The plank requires strength and endurance in your abs, back and core, as well as arms, shoulders, and legs. It is a great place to start because there are a number of variations that you can add as you increase your strength.
- Start on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips.
- Straighten your legs directly behind you, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Tighten your core.
- Hold for 10-30 seconds.
This classic exercise works your abdominal muscles. Start slow and with a low set and rep count (1 set of 8-12 reps for beginners) and slowly increase.
- Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor at hip-width. Align your head and spine and cross your arms across your chest.
- Tighten your core and relax your neck and shoulders. Tuck your chin and lift your upper back while keeping your lower back, pelvis, and feet in contact with the ground.
- Slowly lower your upper back to its original position.
Best Intermediate Core Exercises
- Bird Dog
The bird dog will engage your abdominal and back muscles while also working on your coordination, balance, and stability. Start with 1 set of 8-12 reps and increase as necessary.
- Start on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.
- Tighten your core while lifting and extending your right leg to your hip level. At the same time, lift and extend your left arm to your shoulder level, palm down. Pause.
- Return to start position.
- Repeat these motions with your left leg and right arm.
- Mountain Climber
This combines a plank with knee movements to increase balance and core strength. Start with 1 set of 8-12 reps and increase as necessary.
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lift your right knee towards your chest while maintaining your back and hip alignment.
- Return to the starting position.
- Immediately repeat with your left leg.
Best Advanced Core Exercises
- Side Plank with Rotation
This is an advanced version of the plank that strengthens your arms, shoulders and obliques. Start with 1 set of 8-12 reps on each side and increase as necessary.
- Lie on your right side with your right forearm beneath your shoulder. Extend your legs in a straight line with your left foot on top. Tighten your core.
- Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line.
- Raise your left arm straight up.
- Rotate your torso towards the floor, bringing your left arm into the space under your body.
- Rotate your torso back and extend your arm to the original position.
- Complete your set.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Bicycle Crunch
This exercise places constant tension on your abs. Begin with 1 set of 8-12 reps and increase as necessary.
- Start on your back with your knees bent at hip-width. Align your head and your spine. Place your hands behind your head with elbows pointing to the sides.
- Move your shoulders back and down and tighten your core. Bend your right knee while simultaneously extending your left leg, raising it a couple of inches off of the floor.
- Lift your upper back and left shoulder, bringing your left elbow towards your right knee.
- Tap your left shoulder back to the floor and simultaneously switch your legs.
- Continue alternating your knees and elbows.
These are just a few of the best core strengthening exercises you can do to increase strength, balance, and stability. For more knowledge and motivation, join one of our core exercise classes at Hoys Allied Health + Wellness.