Core Strengthening Exercises

Most people think of core as having strong abs, maybe back and always associate it with crunches and planks. The core is essentially anything that is not the arms or legs. Mostly centered around the midsection at the front, back and sides. Why is it important to have good core strength? Well every time you, pick up something heavy, carry shopping bags or laundry, lift your kids, amongst other things, you’re relying on your core. This is even more so for athletes. So, yeah average Joe or Josephine, you should have a strong core too…if you want to pick up little Jose often.

What are some good core strengthening exercises then? (Aside from regular crunches) you may ask. There are actually quite a few and we’ll go over a couple of them. Continue reading to check out the list.

Planks This is a staple, and pretty simple to perform. Essentially, you hold the top of the push-up position. If you’re asking what a push-up is, then I can’t help you. Alternatively, you can support your weight on your forearms, instead of your palms, as in the traditional push-up. Another variation is the side plank with the one hand stretched upwards as shown in the third pic below. Try and work your way up to a minute. The first two are easier, and the third is a little more tricky and requires more coordination and balance.

Plank.jpg

 

 

 

 

Supermans It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s a guy working out in a gym trying to strengthen his core while doing an impersonation of superman wearing shorts…phew! that was a mouthful. You have to lie face down on a flat surface, with arms and legs outstretched. Raise  your hand and legs about 5 inches off the ground, hold for a couple of seconds (4-5) and then lower again. Rinse and repeat and now you too can have superpowers like superman.

Okay, the last part isn’t true, but you will strengthen your back and engage your glutes and hamstrings. Remember to keep your head neutral and be tempted to arch the neck and raise the head to far back. This will really put a strain on your neck.

Windshield Wipers I swear these exercises on the surface have the funniest names. But on further investigation, they are pretty spot on. No exception with windshield wipers. These work the obliques and lower back. Off course you move your legs from side to side like a pair of windshield wipers.

This exercise is a little tough for beginners. To make things a little simple, you can bend your knees to begin with. When this gets easy, then stretch out your legs for more of a workout. There are also hanging windshield wipers, but let’s not get too carried away today, we’ll save it for another time.

Reverse Crunch Technically speaking the video below shows a reverse crunch with a hip raise. You can leave out the hip raise part of it, and still get a good lower ab workout.

V-ups Another aptly named exercise…also called jackn. At the height of the exercise, you body is in the shape of the letter ‘V’. With both arms and legs outstretched on the ground, you raise both arms and legs up and reach toward your toes. This is a fairly advanced exercise. If you can’t do the previous set of exercises, especially the reverse crunch, you probably won’t be able to do these.

 This exercise works the primary muscles of the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis along with secondary muscles of the  obliques, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Summary These are just a few of the core strengthening exercises I wanted to show you today. There are tons more, in fact there are variations to the ones show here also. You can get really creative with these. Everything shown so far, only requires body weight, but you can make them more difficult by adding dumbbells to the mix. But for the vast majority of people, body weight works just fine. Start with the planks first and work your way up to the other ones, don’t rush into doing anything advanced. I will continue to add to this list in the coming weeks. So, stay tuned…

 

By JaykayfitOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Regular plank By JaykayfitOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Forearm plank image used with CC BY 2.o license

12 thoughts on “Core Strengthening Exercises

  1. Hello, Dave!

    Thank god I found your post, I was looking for something to guide me in which exercise routine should I follow and I was interested in increasing my core strength since I play basketball.
    Your suggestions were very helpful and simple enough to be easy to understand.
    You have a very cool page!

    Santiago

  2. Nice info on ‘core’ exercises and good videos to demonstrate the abdominal and the lower back strengtheners. I think the videos help a lot because if you just read about an exercise, it is very hard for a lot of people to figure out how the exercise is intended to work and the steps to get there. Thanks for shedding light on these great exercises.

  3. Hey Dave,
    This is just what I’ve been looking for. A way to strengthen my core, and yes I understand the core metaphor, makes total sense. After 40 years in construction, well, to say the least, it has taken a toll on my body and I have been seeking ways to strengthen parts of the body. I have been riding an exercise bike for my knees but I need something for my midsection. These look simple but effective and will give them a go.
    I’m glad I came across your article!
    Kim

  4. This is a good way to work out those abs.

    I love doing cardio and kenpo, but tend to run away from core exercises. As you said, strengthening this section, is crucial to getting fit and supporting the body during those demanding times.

    I like the ‘superman’ and the V-ups’ I have tried them before, and can vouch that you really do feel a difference after a good workout.

    Besides the planks, I will tackle the rest of the moves you chatted about and let you know how they work.

    Thanks a mill, looking forward to your future articles.
    Regards
    Roopesh

  5. Funny… i just read yesterday that core exercises are the MOST important exercises to do as we age. I do yoga daily and almost always incorporate plank pose into my practice. I really like windshield wiper and tomorrow i’m going to add that to the mix. Approximately how many times do you suggest? Also, what’s one way to tell if my core is strengthening?

    1. Try 3 sets of 10 reps to start. You’ll know when your core is getting stronger, because you will be able to do more reps or sets for any of the exercises given.

  6. Thanks for this list of core strengthening exercises! I workout regularly and I am always looking to add new core strengthening workouts to my regimen. There is a few exercises on your list that I haven’t been doing, and I plan on implementing them into my routine. Specifically the superman and the windshield wipers.

    thanks again!!

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