5 Core Strengthening Exercises to Try at Home Today
Strengthening your core is to fitness what drinking water is to your ability to stay alive: absolutely essential.
We use our core muscles—the muscles that make up our trunk from the tops of our legs to the bottom of our neck and in between our arms—constantly. These muscles are responsible for most of the movements we can possibly do.
Having strong core strength isn’t just necessary for elite athletes; we all need to have strong core muscles so we can take on every single day knowing that a solid foundation supports our movements. Those core muscles help prevent everyday strains and injuries and ultimately make our bodies a more joyful place to be.
We’ve put together 5 core strength exercises (organized from easy to advanced) you can utilize to build your core muscles so you can rest easy knowing that your body is good and prepared to do all that you want it to.
Dead bugs are a great beginner core training exercise that force you to work not only your core but also your sense of coordination.
For this exercise, you’ll start lying on your back. Put your arms straight up toward the ceiling and lift your legs off the ground into a tabletop position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
From here, straighten your right leg toward the floor while simultaneously lowering your left arm directly above your head, so it’s in line with your left ear. Your extended arm and leg should hover a few inches above the ground while you engage your core to make sure your lower back doesn’t arch off the floor.
Slowly and with control, bring your limbs back into starting position and repeat on the other side.
It’s so easy to sway off track with these, and the key to a good plank is mindfulness and focusing on just how your body is working. While there are many variations of the plank exercise, we will focus on a forearm plank because it is such a core-heavy isometric exercise.
A forearm plank is effectively a push-up position lowered onto your forearms with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Your feet, hands, and forearms should be the only things connected to the floor.
Lift up out of your shoulders so you aren’t collapsing in the upper body and use your core to tuck your tailbone under so you aren’t collapsing in the lower body. Your hips should be in line with your shoulders, which means your bottom shouldn’t stick up or sag toward the ground.
Hold for as long as you can and release. Thirty seconds is a great place to start.
Like the dead bugs, you’re going to start this exercise on your back with your knees up and your calves parallel to the floor.
For bicycle crunches, keep your hands behind your head with your elbows sticking straight out to the sides. Use them to take a little bit of pressure off the neck but don’t rely so hard on them that it takes the work away from your core.
Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground so that just the bottoms of your shoulder blades are touching the floor.
Now, extend your right leg out so that it’s about 6-10 inches off the ground while pulling your left knee in toward your chest. Bring your right elbow to touch the inside of that left knee (or get as close as you possibly can).
Now alternate with your left elbow reaching toward your right knee, all the while keeping your head, neck and shoulders lifted the best you can as you twist.
Row the Boat
Starting in a seated position, lean back onto your bottom and let your legs lift to about 45 degrees. Start with them bent into that tabletop position or straighten them if you already have a steel core.
Clasp your hands together with your arms straight out in front of you. Keep your back flat (don’t hunch over) as you turn to the left and create a rowing motion with your hands together (as if you were rowing a canoe or a paddleboard).
Carefully twist to the other side while engaging your core to maintain balance and repeat.
Alright, here’s where the work gets extra tricky, even though the premise behind the V-up is pretty straightforward: make a V shape.
Start laying flat on your back with your legs out and arms reaching straight up, covering your ears. The idea here is to use your core to lift your legs and torso into that V shape with just your seat on the floor.
The most challenging part is keeping your back flat and legs straight throughout the movement; working your upper and lower body simultaneously into a balancing position is a huge challenge. Once you reach the top with your legs at about 45 degrees and your hands reaching toward your feet, lie back down with control.
If this isn’t accessible to you just yet, you can come up to a V shape with your knees bent and your calves parallel to the floor.
No matter how you choose to get started with core strength training exercises, whether they include these or are led by an instructor in a core-heavy class, training these muscles is a huge step to improving your performance both inside and outside the gym. Try a core workout on our virtual fitness platform, iChuze Fitness, today. Get your free trial here!