Best Workouts to Help Strengthen Your Core

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Besides being located at the centermost region of your body, there is another reason why your core is called by that name. The muscles that make up your core are responsible for distributing energy, weight, and movement throughout your upper and lower torsos. Your core also ensures that the other muscle groups in your body cooperate with one another during exertion. Without it, you lack the support structure needed to give you balance, flexibility, and the strength needed to carry your body weight.

 

Outside of serving as a foundation, the core is also responsible for making sure certain bodily functions continue to work normally. That means your core muscles help with blood circulation, digestion, etc. They also make sure that your organs stay in place when you are moving. It can be easy to take for granted how your body moves exactly how you want it to without pain or inconvenience. Making sure that your core is well-built can make all the difference as you do physical tasks in your daily life.

 

The core is included in most fitness programs since you need to evenly bulk up all the muscles in your body. However, there are times you may want to focus your attention on just your core. A popular reason for working on your core is to get firm and impressive looking abs. Besides showing off how muscular you are, it is proof that you put in a lot of effort to get your body in shape.

 

This article will walk you through relevant information about core workouts that you should know before you decide to start. First, you will become familiar with specific muscles in your core that are worked on during exercises. Second, you may learn some helpful tips on how to ensure your core workout is productive. Finally, you will be given examples of routines and exercises that could give you inspiration for how to approach your core workout.  

 

Muscles Improved in Core Workout

Abdominals are the muscles most associated with the core, but it is incorrect to assume that they are one and the same. The core is a collection of muscles intertwined together, all of them equally important in supporting your body weight. Whenever you do exercises that cause you to flex your core, this causes multiple muscles to work together in response to the tension.

 

The erector spinae run along the full length of your spine on both sides. Its purpose is to help you to straighten your back and allow you to twist your upper torso from side-to-side.

 

The rectus abdominis create the bumps associated with the packs in your abs. Because it is located between your ribs and your hips, it is responsible for facilitating movement between your upper and lower torsos such as during bending. 

 

The external obliques are on either side of the rectus abdominis. They aid in twisting from side-to-side, but the muscles contract in the opposite direction of where you are turning.

 

The internal obliques are right below the external obliques. They also aid in twisting from side-to-side, but the muscles contract in the same direction of where you are turning unlike their counterparts.

 

The transverse abdominis is just inside of the internal obliques. It is supposed to help maintain stability and maintain internal pressure within the abdominals.

 

The multifidus stretches from the middle of your spine down to your tailbone. This works in collaboration with the other core muscles to provide stability, help with bending, and twisting from side-to-side.

 

Tips To Make the Most of Your Core Workout

Reviewing the instructions for a core workout routine will help you get a general idea of the trials ahead of you. However, you may find that what is written in print tends to differ from what actually happens while exercising. You may finish before the estimated completion time of your workout sessions. You might not have the stamina yet to complete the suggested number of reps.

 

Keep in mind that you are not doing anything wrong if you find yourself falling behind a little bit. It is important to take other factors into account such as your limitations and safety. This way you ensure your core muscles get enough work in at a comfortable pace without hurting yourself.

 

Many of the core exercises you will read later in the article may be familiar and the instructions for how to do them can be straightforward. But it does not hurt to look up variations of the same exercise from different references. Depending on the version, the difficulty of how to do an exercise may change. This can help adjust your approach to a core workout if you need to make it easier or harder for yourself.

 

Strive to reach the recommended number of reps for each exercise. If you cannot, try to do as many reps as possible while staying in the correct form. If you are unable to keep up the form while exercising, you are doing it incorrectly. Continuing will just waste your energy and your core muscles will not benefit from the workout. Gradually work your way up until you can reach the recommended number of reps for each exercise. If you are feeling ambitious, try to increase the number of reps or sets.

 

While your core muscles may burn as you exercise, they should never be in pain. Pain implies that you are straining your muscles to a dangerous degree and that you may be approaching an exercise incorrectly. Stop immediately and re-evaluate your form. If the pain does not go away after coming to rest, it may indicate that you have injured yourself. You should apply ice until the pain subsides or call for medical help.

 

Make sure to evenly work out your core muscles. Keep in mind that the core encompasses your abs and back. If you become too fixated on your abdominals, your back will be neglected and will not be able to support the weight of the rest of your body. It may take more time to see results, but giving attention to every part of your core will ensure efficiency during exercises in the long run.

 

Core Workout Routines

 

Beginner Core Workout #1:

For this workout routine, you will do a collection of 6 beginner exercises over the course of 2 to 3 rounds. You will do each exercise for 30 seconds with 10-second breaks in between exercises during each round.

 

Beginner Core Workout #2:

For this workout routine, you will do a collection of 3 beginner exercises over the course of 3 sets. Each set will either have 10 reps or 30 seconds per exercise. There will be 20 to 30-second breaks in between exercises during each round.

 

Examples of beginner level core exercises to choose from include:

  • Plank

  • Glute Bridge

  • Bird Dog

  • Heel Touches

  • Flutter Kicks

 

Intermediate Core Workout #1:

For this workout routine, you will do a collection of 6 to 8 intermediate or advanced exercises over the course of 2 rounds. You will do each exercise for 45 seconds with 15-second breaks in between exercises during each round.

 

Intermediate Core Workout #2:

For this workout routine, you will do a collection of 3 intermediate or advanced exercises over the course of 4 rounds. You will do each exercise for 30 seconds with 30-second breaks at the end of each round.

 

Examples of intermediate level core exercises to choose from include:

  • Plank With March

  • Mountain Climbers

  • Legs Up Crunches

  • Hip Lifts

  • Scissor Kicks

 

Advanced Core Workout #1:

For this workout routine, you will do a collection of 4 advanced exercises over the course of 3 sets. Each set will be a minute long and should be focused on doing a single exercise. There will be 20 to 30-second breaks in between exercises during each round.

 

Advanced Core Workout #2:

For this workout routine, you will do a collection of 6 to 8 advanced exercises over the course of 3 rounds. You will do each exercise for 20 seconds with 30-second breaks at the end of each round.

 

Examples of advanced level core exercises to choose from include:

  • Up Down Plank

  • Plank Shoulder Taps

  • V-Sit

  • V-Up

  • Windshield Wipers

 

Core Exercises

 

Leg Lifts:

Lie flat on your back with your legs fully extended and resting on the ground. Place both hands underneath your bottom.to provide support. Keeping your legs together, lift them up until they are pointed towards the sky. Slowly bring them back down until they are close yet still not touching the ground. Remember to watch your balance as you continue to lift and lower your legs. 

 

Plank Jacks:

Start in a standard push-up position. Bend your elbows so that you come down to rest on your forearms. Your body should be supported by your forearms and toes. Firmly grip your hands together so that your forearms remain rooted in their spot. Jump and spread out both legs to the sides so that they mimic an upside-down V-shape. Jump again and bring your legs back together. Repeat the process. 

 

Butterfly Sit-Up:

Lie flat on your back with your legs arranged in a butterfly pose. Your legs should be open so that your inner thighs are facing up while the bottom of your feet are pressed against each other. Place your hands behind your head and entwine your fingers. Raise your upper torso until you can see your feet in front of you. Slowly bring your upper torso back down until you are resting again. Repeat the process.

 

Dead Bug:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent as if you are sitting while lying down. Your arms should be fully extended above your chest and pointed towards the sky. Both limbs should be off the ground. Take one of your arms and stretch it behind your head. At the same time, the opposite leg should fully extend as it swings downward. Both limbs should come low yet stay off the ground. Return to the starting position. Remember to alternate between opposite arms and legs as you repeat the process.

 

Bird Dog:

Rest on your hands and knees with your shins touching the ground. Bring up one of your arms and fully extend it so it is level with your head. At the same time, the opposite leg should fully extend behind you so that it is also level with your head. Return to the starting position. Remember to alternate between opposite arms and legs as you repeat the process.

 

Warrior Crunch:

Stand straight with your legs spread apart at shoulder-width and your toes pointed outward. Bend your knees slightly so you are mimicking a squat. Place your hand behind your head and entwine your fingers. Bend your upper torso from side-to-side so that your elbows come close to touching the bent legs on their respective sides. Stretch as far as you can while doing a preferred number of reps.

 

Donkey Kick:

Rest on your forearms and knees with your shins touching the ground. Firmly grip your hands together so that your forearms remain rooted in their spot. Bend slightly forward so that weight is distributed more towards the upper torso. Take one of your legs and kick backward, stretching far enough that the bottom of your foot is facing the sky. Swing your leg back down while keeping it elevated off the ground before kicking backward again. When you are ready to switch legs, bring it back down to rest. Remember to alternate between legs as you repeat the process.

 

Windshield Wipers:

Lie flat on your back with your legs fully extended and pointed towards the sky. Stretch out your arms, laying them flat against the ground to help brace your upper torso. Keeping your legs together, swing them from side-to-side so they get close to but stay off the ground. Watch your balance as you do a preferred number of reps.

 

Toe Touches:

Lie flat on your back with your legs and arms fully extended and pointed towards the sky. Lift your upper torso as much as possible while stretching as far as you can to try and touch your toes with your fingertips. Slowly return to the starting position rather than abruptly slam your back onto the ground. Repeat the process.

 

Bear Crawl:

Rest on your hands and feet while positioning your body as if you were a four-legged animal. Using your palms and toes, crawl both forward and backward while staying low to the ground. Bend slightly forward so that your weight is distributed more towards the upper torso. Your legs should cover more distance than your arms when crawling in either direction. 

 

If you wish to know about exercises more specific to your abs, this article should list workouts suited for beginners.

 

Takeaway

After reading this article, you might be surprised by how many individual muscles are weaved together in the core alone. During your core workout, most of or all of these muscles will be put under some degree of stress. While it is suggested you follow a core workout’s guidelines to the letter if you want to maximize results, you should never rush yourself. Take some friendly advice and reduce the extra stress on your core until you are ready to ramp up the difficulty. Each core workout routine and list of core exercises may differ, but they all share the same purpose: to encourage better fitness in your core.

 

Developing your core means more than just getting a 6-pack. It is about building a strong center capable of holding the rest of your body together. You may rely on your arms and legs to interact with the world around you, but your core provides the power and reach needed to do so. Anytime you pull off an amazing physical feat, your core is there to take the strain and to help you stand tall. If you put in the effort to push yourself in your workout, your core will be able to handle more weight, stretch and bend farther, and endure greater strain than you thought possible.