All of the leading doctors agree that a strong core is the key to a pain free healthy body.
You’ll gain a better posture, improved balanced, less risk of injury, and increased strength.
So how are you going to get to this level of wellbeing?
The answer is with some discipline, hard work, and persistence.
Don’t be discouraged though, you’ll be able to see results within weeks.
To get you started, we’ve put together below this core fitness program with the best exercises to develop your core.
Core Exercises For Beginners
If you have never tried core exercises or felt your abdomen weak and loose, you should start with these core exercises for beginners.
These are also recommended if you’re starting a new exercise protocol at home for the first time.
Planks are one of the most essential exercises for strengthening your core. Here’s how you perform a plank:
- Place yourself face down to the floor, holding your body weight with the tip of your toes and your forearms.
- Lift your torso to achieve a straight line between your heels, glutes, and shoulders.
- Hold this position for at least 20 seconds but challenge yourself to achieve a longer time, as you progress.
Side planks feel similar to regular planks, though depending on you and your current levels, it can be a bit more challenging. Here’s how you perform a side plank:
- Place yourself on the floor, lie on your right side, and hold your body weight with your right heel and your right forearm.
- Lift your glutes and be sure to achieve a straight line between your heels, glutes, and shoulders.
- Hold this position for at least 10 seconds and then switch sides.
- Repeat steps 1,2 and 3.
This is the most basic abdominal exercise and many simply call it “abs.”
The whole name, however, is crunch abdominals because there are many other ways to activate the same muscle. Here is how you should perform a crunch:
- Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your upper body slightly. You don’t need to bring your torso to your knees, but be sure to keep your feet flat on the ground.
- Repeat 10 to 13 times.
This exercise is very easy to perform, but staying in the same position can be challenging. This is how you do a superman pose:
- Lie on your stomach and extend your arms over your head with your legs against the floor.
- Raise your head, and keep your left arm and right leg 15 cm off the floor.
- Hold your position for three seconds and alternate with the opposite arm and leg. 10 repetitions is a great place to start.
The bridge pose works out your lower back and your glutes at the same time. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, and bend your legs to a 90º angle.
- Lift your hips away from the floor and try to maintain a straight line between your shoulders, glutes, and knees.
- Hold your position for up to 10 seconds and make 12 repetitions or as much as you can.
This exercise looks like a metronome hence the name, but you may also hear people call it a lumbar rotation. Here’s how you do it:
- Lie on your back, keeping your knees bent in front of you at a 90º angle.
- Rotate your legs to the right in a controlled motion, bringing your knees close to the ground.
- Return to your original position and do the same to your left side.
- Keep it up for up to 12 repetitions and be sure to feel the tension in your lower back and hips.
If you look at this pose sideways you will see the shape of a boat hence the name. It is a yoga pose, and Paripurna Navasana is another name you may come across. Try it by following these steps:
- Sit on the floor with both knees bent.
- Keep your back straight and lean back without touching the floor.
- At the same time, raise your feet and try to extend your legs as much as possible to achieve a V shape with your torso and legs.
- Hold your position for at least 15 seconds and try to increase your time as much as possible.
This is a fundamental exercise to work out your abdominal muscles. To achieve the movement, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back and keep your head and back flat on the floor. In the initial position, your legs will rest on the ground.
- With your knees fully extended, bring your legs upwards to reach a 90º angle with your torso.
- Drop your legs down slowly and repeat.
If this movement is hard on your lower back, you can place your arms underneath to add some support.
The hollowman is an isometric exercise that does not require movement and it may look like a simple move, but similar to planks, the hollowman activates core muscles very effectively.
To do this exercise, follow these steps:
- Keep your back on the floor.
- Raise your legs to a 45º angle.
- Maintain your arms on both sides of your body and your shoulders near the floor.
- Hold the position for 15 seconds and try to challenge yourself to achieve more time.
Workout Routine Plan
The list of exercises above might be your first attempt to strengthen your core. Follow the number of repetitions and try to do them every other day.
If you can complete the sets and repetitions keeping your technique, include more exercises until you can do them all in one day.
After this, you will be ready to try the intermediate and advanced core exercises that we explain next.
Intermediate Core Exercises
The Superman Pull
Once you’ve mastered the basic superman pose, this will be your next challenge. Here’s how to perform the superman pull:
- Lie on your stomach and face the floor with your hands extended over your head and your legs straight.
- Separate your hands and feet from the floor as much as possible, with a steady movement.
- Pull your elbows to your sides until they reach your torso.
- Bring them back to your original position and repeat 15 times indefinitely for 40 seconds.
Plank Knee Crosses
This one is a combination of knee raises and the basic plank. Here’s how to do it:
- Place yourself face down on the floor holding the weight of your body with your hands and the tip of your toes.
- Keep this position and then bend your right knee towards your left elbow.
- Go back to the initial position and do the same movement with the opposite limb.
- Complete 12 to 15 repetitions and be sure to maintain steady instead of fast-paced movements.
Planks become harder if you try them with one hand instead of two. Plank taps will give you a glimpse of what I’m talking about. For effective plank taps, follow these steps:
- Start with the initial push-up stance, with your face down and holding your weight with your hands and toes.
- Gently touch your right shoulder with your left hand.
- Go back to the initial position and do the same with the opposite hand.
- Make slow movements as they will challenge your core muscles more efficiently.
Ball Push Away
For this exercise, you will need to have a stability ball. Here’s how to perform a ball push away:
- Start with your basic plank position, but instead of placing your hands or elbows on the floor, rest them on the stability ball.
- Push the ball front with your forearms
- Bring the ball back to the original position while keeping your body straight.
- Repeat up to 15 times for each round.
Hanging Knee Raises
For this exercise, you might need a set of dip bars, a power tower, or two chairs with their armrests side by side.
If you use two chairs, make sure they are stable when you hold your body weight to the armrest. Here’s how you perform hanging knee raises:
- Hold yourself steady with your arms extended, keep your legs extended as well and raise your knees to your torso.
- Lower them in a slow and steady movement.
- Repeat until you achieve 13 to 15 repetitions.
Dumbbell Plank Drag
In this slight variation of a plank, you will start as if you were preparing to do push-ups. Here’s how:
- Face the floor holding the weight of your body with your hands and the tip of your toes.
- Put a dumbbell on the ground to the left side of your body. With your right hand, reach the dumbbell across your body and drag it to the opposite side.
- Do the same with your left hand.
- Repeat the movement 10 to 13 times.
If you’ve already tried plank knee crosses, this one will look similar, and may even be a bit easier to do. Here’s how you do it:
- Place yourself face down to the floor, holding the weight of your body with your hands and the tip of your toes.
- Keep this position and then bend your right knee towards your torso. Note that the movement is not made towards the opposite elbow, as in plank knee crosses.
- Go back to the initial position and do the same movement with the opposite limb.
Panther Shoulder Taps
If you are familiar with plank taps, you will find panther shoulder taps very similar. They are basically the same movement but with more support.
- Place yourself face down on all fours and keep your back straight, similar to a plank.
- Lift your knees a bit, no more than 3 inches from the floor, and then start tapping your right shoulder with your left hand and vice versa.
- Keep your hips as still as possible and alternate sides for at least 45 seconds.
- Lie on your back and put the soles of your feet together with your knees slightly bent to both sides.
- Fully extend your arms over your head.
- Engage your core muscles and crunch, but continue the movement until you’re sitting upright and able to touch your toes.
- Go back to the initial position and start once again to complete 12 to 15 repetitions.
Dead Bug Pose
This pose seems pretty simple but it can be very challenging. Here’s how you do it:
- Lie with your back flat on the ground and extend your arms straight in front of you towards the ceiling.
- At the same time, raise your legs and bend your knees at 90º.
- Lower your left arm and right leg at the same time until they are very close but not touching the floor.
- Go back to your starting position and repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg.
Rolling Into A Ball
- Sit up comfortably on the floor with your knees fully bent in front of you and the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
- Wrap both hands around the legs, and curl your head a bit to the knees.
- Roll your body back and stop when your shoulders touch the ground.
- Go back to the initial position.
In this exercise, try not to touch the ground with your head or neck to avoid injuries.
Advanced Core Exercises
High To Low Boat Pose
This exercise looks similar to your regular boat pose, but it is more challenging because it requires moving in and out of the pose while engaging your core muscles.
- Start by lying face up with your arms straight to your sides and your feet straight, touching the ground.
- Engage your core muscles and adopt the boat pose we mentioned above.
- Go back to the initial position and repeat the same thing 10 to 12 times in each set.
This is a great variation of the basic crunch that only requires moving your legs but adds a powerful activating effect to your abdominal muscles.
- Lie on your back, with your hands behind your head and your knees slightly bent.
- Tighten your core and bend your right knee toward your torso.
- Go back to the original position and switch legs continuously.
This exercise is usually not measured by repetition but time. You can do either 8 to 12 repetitions for each leg or count 20 to 30 seconds.
This is an excellent exercise for your oblique muscles, and if you’re familiar with the side plank, you will find this one very easy to do.
- Start by placing your body in a side plank position, with your right hand and right heel holding your body weight.
- You can start with your hips on the ground because the exercise consists of lifting up your hips and lowering it down continuously.
- Be sure to engage your core as you do this, and then repeat the same movement on the opposite side.
Body Saw Exercise
If you have a pair of gliders, you can use them for this exercise. If not, you can replace then with towels.
- Start with a plank position, holding your weight on your elbows and toes, but this time your toes will be placed on the gliders or towels.
- Using the support of your forearms and elbows, engage your core and slide the towers or gliders back as much as possible.
- Go back to your starting position and repeat for 30 to 45 seconds.
This movement does not only engage your abdominal muscles but also your back. Here’s how you do it:
- Start on all fours, holding your weight with your hands and forearms.
- Tighten your core muscles and lift your right leg and left arm, hold the position for a second or two.
- Repeat with the opposite limb and count 8-12 repetitions.
- Starting with a forearm plank position, place your elbows at the same level as your shoulders.
- With this initial position, engage your core muscles and rotate your hips until you tap the floor with your glutes.
- Alternate sides and try to achieve 8-12 repetitions each time.
This one is similar to the high to low boat pose. Here’s how you do it,
- Keep your knees extended to achieve a letter V with your torso and legs.
- After achieving the pose, go back to your initial position.
- Repeat the movement 10-12 times.
- Lie on your back and keep your legs extended and arms to each side.
- Lift your right leg and crunch to reach your raised leg with your left hand.
- Go back to the initial position and repeat the movement.
Hollow Body Rock
This exercise is similar to rolling into a ball. Here’s how you can perform the hollow body rock:
- Sit up comfortably on the floor with your arms and legs fully extended.
- Rock your body keeping your abdominal region as tight as possible.
- Try to reach the floor with your hands each time for up to 45 minutes.
When crunches and knee raises are not enough, combining them can be explosive, and that’s what happens with V-Ups.
- Start by lying on your back with arms and legs extended.
- Keeping both extremities extended, create a V shape by trying to reach your legs with your hands.
- Keep your core engaged at all times.
- Repeat 10-12 times.
If you felt the metronome is not challenging at all, leg swings can make it a bit harder for you. Here’s how you can perform leg swings:
- Lie on your back with your hands to the sides.
- Rotate your hips with your legs fully extended.
This is an excellent way to target your oblique muscles.