Having a strong core is an incredible asset to any athlete. The benefits are plentiful; better posture, improved balance, reduced back pain, and better spine support.
In order to build core strength, you need to work on a wide variety of muscles from your shoulders to your hips.
A flexible and athletic core will help you in any sport, in your fitness routines, and in your everyday life.
In this article, we will dive into the different ways you can efficiently strengthen your core muscles through core strength workout, no matter who you are and what your athletic level is.
Best Core Strength Workout For Beginners
Those who have just started going down the path of a healthier lifestyle should of course, try the following core strengthening exercises for beginners. These easy exercises require no previous experience nor equipment, but are yet, very effective.
The Plank: The Harmless Abs Builder
The plank is a very efficient core strengthening exercise that will efficiently reinforce your abs. One of the best isometric exercises, the plank is perfect for all levels, from beginners to experts who want to work on deep muscles, enhance their posture, as well as their balance.
Here’s how to do a plank:
- Step 1: Place your forearms on the ground and your elbows right below your shoulders. Both of your arms need to be aligned, and your hands facing forward.
- Step 2: Stretch your legs behind you and rest them on your toes. Your back and your legs need to be perfectly aligned and form a straight line.
- Step 3: Place your neck and your head in a neutral position, in the continuity of your body so that you can see your hands.
- Step 4: Squeeze every muscle in your core and hold this straight position for as long as you can.
The Low Plank
Like the regular plank, the low plank is pretty effective for giving strength to your abs and core, and it is easy to perform.
Here’s how to do a low plank:
- Step 1: Stand in a push-up position.
- Step 2: Have your elbows at 90 degrees below your shoulders.
- Step 3: Instead of standing on your toes, put your body’s weight on your knees and keep your feet at 30 degrees from the ground.
- Step 4: Squeeze your muscles and remain in the position for as long as you can, or do a few short rounds.
The Bird Dog Crunch
Crunches are always good core strength workouts.
Here’s how to do a bird dog crunch:
- Step 1: Kneel on the mat on all fours.
- Step 2: Drawing in the abs, reach one arm straight forward
- Step 3: Extend the opposite leg behind you
- Step 4: Bring the knee and the elbow towards the center
- Step 5: Try to get them to touch each other
- Step 6: Repeat switching the arm and leg for a couple of times
Spiderman Plank Crunch
The spiderman plank crunch is a great way to level-up your basic plank.
How to do a spiderman plank crunch:
- Step 1: Start in a regular plank position (as explained above), & keep your body in a straight line
- Step 2: Lift one of your legs and bring the knee towards the outside of the opposite arm.
- Step 3: Return to the regular plank position
- Step 4: Switch sides and do it again for a couple of times (5 is great for beginners)
Modified Bicycle Crunch
The modified bicycle crunch is great because it targets posture-relevant muscles. It is great for maintaining balance as well.
How to do the modified bicycle crunch:
- Step 1: Be in a sitting position, with knees bent
- Step 2: Place your heels flat on the floor and hands on the sides of your shoulders
- Step 3: Bring one knee and the opposite elbow towards one another while twisting your torso
- Step 4: Repeat the same action on the other side
Core Strength Workout Exercises At Home
If you want to do fun yet challenging core muscles exercises without having to leave the comfort of your home, we have some good news for you. You can build your own core workout routine while saving the time for going to the gym. Here are some core exercises you can do at home:
Panther Shoulder Tap
This exercise looks easy, but it engages your whole core. You need no equipment for it besides a yoga mat to do it on.
How to do the panther shoulder tap:
- Step 1: Get on all fours
- Step 2: Keep your back flat and lift your knees about 1-3 inches from the floor
- Step 3: Put your neck in a comfortable position while looking at the floor
- Step 4: Tap your right hand on your left shoulder, and then your left hand on your right shoulder
- Step 5: Use your core strength to keep your hips still
This exercise is adjustable for pros and beginners alike.
How to do the butterfly sit-up:
- Step 1: Start by being in a laying position with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent out to the sides
- Step 2: Reach your arms overhead
- Step 3: Roll your body up using your core, until you are sitting upright
- Step 4: Reach to touch your toes
- Step 5: Slowly lower your back down to the start position, and repeat the exercise
A more intense version of a regular plank.
How to do a side plank:
- Step 1: Lay down on your side with your feet together
- Step 2: Place your forearm directly below your shoulder
- Step 3: Contract your core as much as you can
- Step 4: Try to raise your hips until your body forms a straight line
- Step 5: Hold this position for as long as you can
- Step 6: Slowly return to the initial position and switch sides
If you think that doing side planks is not enough for you, try out the side bends.
How to do a side bend:
- Step 1: Start in the side plank position (explained above)
- Step 2: Engage your core, relaxing your non-standing hand
- Step 3: Dip your hip down towards the ground, but without touching it
- Step 4: Lift your hip back up
- Step 5: Continue for a few reps, then switch sides
If you like intense sit-ups, this might be the best exercise for you.
How to do a C-curve:
- Step 1: Try sitting on your tailbone
- Step 2: Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
- Step 3: Dip your hip down towards the ground, but without touching it
- Step 4: Round your spine
- Step 5: Tuck your tailbone
- Step 6: Lower your torso
- Step 7: Halfway down, stop lowering and hold the position. Engage your quads and entire core
Core Strength Workout With Weights
Doing core muscles exercises with weights requires having the equipment. It also provides amazing results in the long run.
Renegade Row With Push-up
This exercise is a really hard one. But, it is great because it targets the deltoids, triceps, biceps and whole core.
How to do a renegade row with push-up:
- Step 1: Stand in a high plank holding a weight in each hand
- Step 2: Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and legs behind you wider than hip-width apart
- Step 3: Keep your glutes and core engaged
- Step 4: Pull one of your elbows back to do a row by raising the dumbbell toward your chest
- Step 5: Keep your elbow close to your torso and abs tight to maintain stability in the hips
- Step 6: Lower the weight back in the initial position
- Step 7: Lower your chest and bend your elbows to the floor doing a push-up
- Step 8: Return back to the initial plank position
- Step 9: Switch hands and repeat
Single-Leg Reverse Fly
Another great exercise involving a dumbbell. It targets your trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, and whole core.
How to do a single-leg reverse fly:
- Step 1: Stand with your feet at hip-width holding a weight in each hand and palms facing in
- Step 2: Lift your right leg straight out behind you, hinging towards at the hips
- Step 3: Keep your torso parallel to the floor (or as much as you can)
- Step 4: Keep your neck in a comfortable position, looking at the ground
- Step 5: Keep the weights hanging toward the floor
- Step 6: Bend your elbows and slowly lift the weights until they are in line with your shoulders
- Step 7: Slowly, return to the weights hanging position
- Step 8: Repeat by switching the standing foot
Somewhat similar to the single-leg reverse fly. The single-leg deadlift is a great core-strengthening exercise.
How to do a single-leg deadlift:
- Step 1: Stand with your feet together and hold a weight in each hand, in front of your legs
- Step 2: Bend your knee on one leg, and shift your weight to it while raising the other leg straight behind your body
- Step 3: Hinge at the hips to bring your body parallel to the floor
- Step 4: Lower the weight at the floor
- Step 5: By maintaining your back flat, lower to the ground. Do this until the weight is a few inches from it. Keep your body straight
- Step 6: Pushing through the dominant-foot heel, stand up straight. Pull the weights back to the starting position
- Step 7: Bring your other foot to meet the standing foot, while keeping balance
- Step 8: Pause and squeeze your butt-muscles
- Step 9: Continue reps like this with one leg, and then switch legs
The wood chop exercise is a beginner-friendly core muscle exercise. It will provide visible results in no time.
How to do the wood chop:
- Step 1: Engage your feet and holding a dumbbell in your left arm, stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart
- Step 2: Raise your arms in a diagonal form in front of your body to the upper right point of your reach
- Step 3: Allow your torso and toes to rotate naturally to the right as you twist
- Step 4: To the left, “chop” the weight down, while bringing it across the front point of your body
- Step 5: Aim at your left ankle
- Step 6: Keep your lower body in a balance, and focus on rotating from your core
- Step 7: After doing some reps, switch sides and repeat
The Russian twist is one of the most popular core strength workout exercises with dumbbells.
How to do a Russian twist:
- Step 1: Sit while having your knees bent
- Step 2: Flex your feet and keep your heels on the floor
- Step 3: Have one weight in front of your chest
- Step 4: Lean your torso back until you feel that you engage your abdominal muscles
- Step 5: Twist your body from left to right while keeping your core tight
Other Useful Training Articles
Core Strength Workout For Lower Back Pain
Are you experiencing lower back pain? If so, you should probably seek low-impact core strengthening exercises, like these:
A beginner-friendly exercise that’s effective.
How to do a kneeling extension:
- Step 1: Get on all fours, keeping your hands beneath your shoulders and knees below your hips
- Step 2: Lift and extend your right arm
- Step 3: Extend the left leg behind you, with toes pointed down, try extending your back as much as you can
- Step 4: If you find this too painful, lift one arm or one leg
This is a simple exercise strengthening your core and lower back.
How to do hip lifts:
- Step 1: Lie on your back and bend your knees while having your arms on the floor
- Step 2: Rotate your pelvis and tailbone down
- Step 3: Push your lower back into the floor
- Step 4: Hold the position and lift your midsection from the ground while keeping balance
- Step 5: Hold the position for a few seconds
- Step 6: Return to the starting position
Abdominal Chair Crunch
If you want to reduce lower back pain while keeping a strong core, this is a great exercise.
How to do an abdominal chair crunch:
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your lower legs resting on a chair
- Step 2: Place your fingers behind you and lift your chin to the ceiling
- Step 3: Engage your stomach muscles and use them to lift your shoulders off the floor
- Step 4: Return to the starting position slowly
If you want to strengthen your gluteus medius and do an easy exercise, this one is for you.
How to do a clamshell:
- Step 1: Lie on your left side
- Step 2: Bend your elbows and use your left hand to prop up your head
- Step 3: Stack your right leg and foot on top of your left
- Step 4: Have your knees bent at a 45-degree angle
- Step 5: Place your right hand on your hip
- Step 6: Lift your right knee toward the ceiling keeping your feet together using your glutes
- Step 7: Using your glutes, stay in the position for a few seconds and return to the initial position
A helpful exercise for those who like training their core, lower back and leg muscles.
How to do forward lunges:
- Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips
- Step 2: Step 2 feet forward with one of your feet
- Step 3: Bend both of your knees at 90-degree angles in your legs
- Step 4: Engage your core and push through your foot to return to the standing position (Step 1)
Advanced Core Strength Workout Exercises
Sometimes doing simple and easy core exercises isn’t enough. You should step up your core workout game with exercises like the following ones:
Straight-leg leg lifts from a bar
A hard exercise engaging your lower and upper abs that requires having a pull-up bar around.
How to do Straight-leg lifts from a bar:
- Step 1: Start with an overhand grip of the bar
- Step 2: Pull your shoulders back and down and engage your ears with your lats
- Step 3: Lift your feet by keeping them perfectly straight
- Step 4: When you reach maximum height with your feet, slowly lower them down to finish a rep
Medicine ball hollow body holds
Feeling like working your abs and core muscles when you have a medicine ball around? Try this exercise!
How to do a medicine ball hollow body hold:
- Step 1: Lie flat on your back
- Step 2: Pull your shoulders back and down and engage your ears with your lats
- Step 3: Lift your shoulders off the ground
- Step 4: Lift your straightened legs while holding the ball a few inches off the ground
Planks are challenging by themselves. However, the walk-out version is one of the most challenging core exercises. And it requires no equipment.
How to do plank walk-outs:
- Step 1: Get in a push-up position
- Step 2: Walk your hands out forward, as far as you can
- Step 3: Stay like that keeping balance
- Step 4: Slowly return to the initial push-up position
Great exercise for working your upper abs and shoulders.
How to do dumbbell sit ups:
- Step 1: Lie on your back with a dumbbell on your chest
- Step 2: Engage your abs and curl up
- Step 3: Lift the dumbbell overhead when you approach the top of your crunch
- Step 4: While descending, lower the dumbbell back to your chest
- Step 5: Switch arms doing this and repeat the exercise
Stability ball pike-ups
Stability balls are excellent for levelling-up your core strength workout. Not only is it an easy exercise, but it’s also very efficient.
How to do stability ball pike-ups:
- Step 1: Have a big stability ball below your feet as you get into a push-up position
- Step 2: Pike your hips upward while the balls rolls toward your hands
- Step 3: Using weight on your shoulders, lower your hips back down
- Step 4: Roll the ball to the starting position
Core Muscles List
- Erector Spinae: 3 muscle group that goes from your lower back all the way up to your neck
- External obliques: These muscles are on both sides of your abdomen
- Gluteus Maximus, hamstring group, piriformis: You can find this group of muscles between your upper thighs all the way up to your buttocks
- Gluteus medius and minimus: These two are on the side of your hips
- Hip adductors: The 5 muscles found in your medial compartment of the thigh
- Hip flexors: A muscle-group found at the top of your thigh, helping you move
- Internal obliques: These muscles are abdominal. They are located beneath the external abdominal oblique
- Multifidus: A very thin muscle found deep in the spine
- Rectus abdominis: This is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the abdomen
- Transverse abdominis: The deepest layer of all abdominal muscles. It is located underneath your rectus abdominis
Core Strength Workout – FAQ
Why is core strength important?
Most physical activities require having greater core strength. So, doing physical activities like lifting things is much easier with good core strength.
What are good core strengthening exercises for a beginner?
Besides the ones we mentioned on the list above, any exercise that challenges you but doesn’t push you too much.
What is the best core exercise?
The absolute best core exercise is the plank, as well as other variations of the plank. They engage most of your muscles in your body.
How do you strengthen your core muscles?
Besides doing regular core muscle exercises, using equipment helps you improve your results. Doing physical activities helps as well.
Why do you need a strong core?
A strong core minimizes the chances of having a poor posture. It also prevents you from being fatigued, having less endurance and being susceptible to injuries.
Do Russian twists give you abs?
Since Russian twists give you oblique strength and definition, they are also great for building your abs.
How many crunches should a beginner do?
In general, 3 sets of 10-12 crunches is a good way to start.
How can I strengthen my core without hurting my back?
Avoid exercises that are painful or cause you discomfort, or pick a few exercises from the list above. Also, seek a professional’s help to give you guidance on your individual case.
What are the best exercises for lower back pain?
Stability balls are often the best way to handle lower back pain. You can also look for exercises that you can do laying on a padded matt.