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What are Some Core Strengthening Exercises?

By Holly Collins
Updated May 17, 2024
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Core muscles are defined as any muscle that connects to the ribs, pelvis or lower back. There are 29 core muscles in all. Strengthening those muscles through exercise can improve overall physical condition. A strong core also provides body stability, makes it less susceptible to injury and better protects the back and spine. Core strengthening exercises will improve balance, posture and sports performance.

Some of the muscles that core strengthening exercises work include the hip-flexors, the muscles of the upper and lower back, and the abdominal muscles. They also include the muscles of the trunk and the hip and shoulder girdles.

Some easily accessible core strengthening exercises that do not require any special equipment include:

Abdominal crunches . Lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, position your hands behind your neck with elbows bent. Raise your shoulders up off the floor moving them toward your knees. Slowly, and with control, lower your body back down to just above the floor and repeat. Reverse crunches are also an effective core strengthening exercise. Utilizing the same position, draw your knees up off the floor towards your chest using similar repetitions.

Plank. Lying flat on the floor with your face down, bring your arms into the position to do a simple push up. With your hands on the floor, raise your body off the ground until your arms are fully extended, although not hyper-extended. Tightening your abdominal muscles, hold this position for about 10 to 15 seconds and repeat. Planks can also be done in a side position resting on your bent forearm to work the oblique muscles which are also part of your core. A simple push up is also a good core strengthening exercise.

Bridge. Lying on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, push your hips up while keeping your heels planted. Squeeze your hip muscles at the top of the motion and hold for about three seconds. Repeat the process. To provide more a more challenging bridge, do the exercise with one leg extended but parallel to the floor. Repeat the same number of repetitions with the other leg extended parallel to the floor.

Squats. Standing with your feet slightly apart, bend your knees while keeping your back straight. Lower your body until just before your knees extends beyond your feet. Push through your heels straightening your legs and return to your starting position.

Many yoga positions would also be considered core strengthening exercises. Exercises utilizing any of the 29 core muscles would fall into this category.

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Discussion Comments
By FrameMaker — On May 31, 2011

@parmnparsley- I like the roman chair as well, but my favorite core-strengthening workout is swimming. I am almost to my thirties and swimming has been one of the best things for me to maintain my weight and keep my gut tucked in. I swim laps every day in the summer and fall, and mountain bike as much as I can in the winter and spring (I live in Arizona).

Swimming laps is also a very low impact exercise. I have bad knees, so things like squats are completely out of the picture. I can swim as many laps as I want with very little pain, but just one squat with heavy weight has the potential to make my knee swell. When I swim, I can keep my legs, back, abs, chest, and arms tone.

By parmnparsley — On May 30, 2011

One of my favorite back strengthening exercises is the back extension. I call them supermans because I spread my arms out as far in front of me as possible so it looks like I am flying like superman.

You can do them at the gym on a piece of equipment called a roman chair. You are essentially doing a sit up while facing the ground and keeping your legs fully extended. I usually do a few sets of these without weights for a warm-up. After warming up, I will add a little weight, which I hold against my chest with my arms crossed. I will also spread my arms out and do a couple sets twisting to the left and to the right.

I noticed that my front looks better when I work on my back muscles. Using the roman chair is one of the most important parts of my core exercises. The roman chair works the back, oblique, rear deltoid, and lower abdominal muscles without putting unnecessary strain on the neck or lower back.

By laluna — On Nov 03, 2008

There is a core strengthening exercise I love to do although I don't know the name of it. It is probably called a body extension or something like that, but I don't know.

There are machines set up just for it at the gym, but you can do them at home too. What you need to do is lay face down on the edge of your bed (or some other similar piece of furniture). Your hips should be at the edge of the bed, with the upper half of your body, therefore, not being on the bed at all. Rather, your head should be hanging down to the floor.

With your hands behind your head you should raise up to return your body to a horizontal position. Repeat this in 3 sets of 10 or 15 and your core is sure to be strengthened. I usually have my spouse or children sit on my legs because without that anchor, its hard to stay in place.

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