Updated: Mar 19, 2020
The core is at the center of your body, it encompasses your abs, hips, back, and chest. Your core stabilizes your body, allowing you to move in all directions as well as providing proper balance. The benefits of working out your core include; improved balance, decreased lower back pain, and more toned abs. However, core exercises are often neglected. Here are some simple core exercises you can start adding to your routine today to start getting these benefits.
The Russian twist is a simple and effective way to tone your core, shoulders, and hips. It’s a popular exercise among athletes since it helps with twisting movements and allows you to quickly change direction. Plus, it’s easy to learn!
How to: Start by sitting on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Then lean back so your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your back straight at this angle throughout the exercise, as it will be tempting to hunch your shoulders forward. Link your hands together in front of your chest, then brace your core and raise your legs up off the ground. Rotate your arms all the way over to one side, then do the same in the other direction.
Form Tips: Move slowly and breathe. Keep your back at 45-degrees
Variations: Standing Cable Crunch, Weighted, Lower-Body
Side bends are a popular exercise for targeting the two layers of muscles (the external and internal obliques) at each side of the waist. It's also one of the most misused exercises. Strong obliques help maintain proper posture while protecting the spine.
How to: Get weights, dumbbells, kettlebells, or plates you can lift with some strain.Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the weights down by your sides.Begin by bending sideways to your right, keeping the weight close to your body. Squeeze your oblique as you bend, and feel the stretch on your left side as you move the weight down toward the side of your knee. Pause, then return to starting position.
Form Tips: Use a comfortable weight. Be mindful to engage with the obliques. Don't hold your breath
Variations: Yoga ball oblique crunch, Medicine ball side throwdowns
How to: Lie flat on your back and place your hands behind your head. Bend your knees and cross your feet. Bring your legs up so that your thighs and hips form a 90 degree angle or more. The more the angle; the more challenging the exercise. With elbows flared lift your shoulder blades off the floor and hold the position. Crunch your core and reach your elbows to your knees. Hold and then return to the starting position. Repeat.
Form Tips: Lift with your shoulders not the neck.
Variations: Cable crunch, Bicycle crunch
Ab-Wheel Rollouts are one of the most challenging core exercises. You need good core strength in a plank position as well as good upper body strength, especially in the shoulders, back and forearms. The rolling out movement primarily works your lats and deltoids, whereas the second half of the movement—the rolling in portion—targets the core, specifically the rectus abdominis (abs).
How to: Kneel on a mat or pad and grasp the ab wheel handles. Flex your glutes and abs.
Keeping your back straight, lean forward and roll the wheel forward until your arms are overhead and your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Roll the wheel back toward your knees to return to the starting position.
Form Tips: Keep your arms and back straight. Focus your attention on your abdominal muscles. The harder you flex your abs here, the stronger they will become.
Variations: Barbell rollout, Exercise Ball Rollout