Any exercise involving the use of both back and abs muscles is considered a core exercise. Since it targets muscles on both sides of your upper body, chances are it is complex enough and targets further groups too.
The best part about core exercises is you don’t need a gym membership. You can add them to your regimen of essential fitness workouts and transform yourself in the comfort of your bedroom.
Now, we’ve all wondered where to start – after all, the plank is probably the most popular core exercise out there.
Here are 5 essential core exercises to get you going, as well as how to perform them correctly.
What Is Core Exercise?
If the exercise implies using the back and abs to perform, it can be considered a core exercise – simple as that. It will help you get rid of belly fat, tone your abs, build some back muscle and improve stability and balance.
Most importantly, core exercises target your everyday abilities by maintaining the spine in good condition – you use it for almost every move you make.
You don't need specialized equipment to perform these and some other bodyweight exercises, and you can reach your fitness goals much faster than normally – after all, a strong core will also help you perform other exercises, be it calisthenics or weight workouts.
Just because you don’t need weights for many core exercises, it doesn’t mean that all of them go in the same direction. There are plenty of exercises that will require different pieces of equipment or actual weights - such as dumbbell-only workouts, or sumo squats.
Most people perform core exercises without actually realizing it – they try to focus on their abs muscles. If the back hurts too, chances are you’re doing a core exercise.
Top 5 Core Exercises
All in all, here are 5 essential core exercises to get you going.
The plank is a classic and for some good reasons. It is the ideal exercise to use in this core enhancing venture. The movement involved is minimal. However, you can also change the exercise, as there are more varieties – make it easier or harder, based on your fitness level. You can start with push-ups instead of planks if you find planks hard, and then do planks when you are ready.
Generally speaking, you should support the lower body on both forearms. The rest of the body must be straight and rigid. The point is to hold this position for as long as you can. You can start with half a minute first and go on from there.
This is the type of exercise that looks simple, but it will make each minute feel like an eternity.
Video: How to Do Planks
Here is a video demonstration on how to do planks properly
Bird Dog Crunch
This exercise targets the abs and lower back in particular – it is often advertised to be an abs exercise, so if you want to get abs in a fortnight or you already have some 10 packs of abs, this exercise will make them more visible. But that's not all, it will work wonders on your back too. Apart from firing the lower back, this exercise will also improve your stability and balance.
Go on your knees and arms. From a kneeling position, raise the left arm out. At the same time, make sure the right leg is straightening out. Hold the position for a second and go back to the original position before changing sides.
Video: Bird Dog Exercise
Here is a video demonstration on how to do the bird dog exercise
The glute bridge is a traditional exercise, and you have probably seen it done in the gym before. It is more common among women, but it is just as handy for everyone who wants better-looking glutes and a strong core.
So, what do you need to do? The exercise is straightforward and simple. Lie on the back. The hands should be straight on the floor. Your soles should be flat as well. Lift the hips off the ground while keeping the upper back there. In fact, apart from the bend by your knees, the body must be rigid.
Hold the position for a few seconds, and make sure you squeeze your glutes.
Video: Glute Bridges
Here is a video demonstration on how to do glute bridges
You cannot really go wrong with the reverse crunch because it kills your abs. But at the same time, it has beneficial effects on your back as well. You have to lie on the back. Bend the knees and bring them close to your chest.
As you lower the feet down to the ground in slow motion, you need to keep your feet slightly elevated. Then, the knees should be brought back up by your chest. The exercise will feel a bit tricky if your fitness condition is not the best, but you will get there.
Video: Reverse Crunches
Here is a video demonstration on how to do reverse crunches
Sitting Bicycle Crunch
This type of crunch works on the abs, back, and hips, this exercise is similar to double crunches and works similar muscles. You will most likely feel the fire in your abs. Sit and bend your knees a little. Bring the right knee up towards your chest, while the left elbow should go downwards.
Try touching them, then repeat for the other side.
Keep the motion slow, or you risk injuring yourself.
Video: Sitting Bicycle Crunches
Here is a video demonstration on how to do sitting bicycle crunches
Still undecided about the optimal exercises for the core?
What Muscles Make up The Core?
Most people believe the core is just the abs, but the back is also part of your core. Thighs and hips may also be considered by some personal trainers. All in all, there are about 30 muscles altogether.
What Are the Main Benefits of Core Training?
Good looks and top-notch functionality are the main aspects to consider. A strong core will support you throughout day-by-day activities.
How Can I Test My Core Fitness Level?
There is a simple test you can do – try doing the plank for a minute. If you can without shaking and crunching, you have a decent core fitness level.
Bottom line, understanding the necessity of core training is a must before deciding on a workout. Any of the above-mentioned exercises will give you good looks, but they will also support you throughout your activities. You can perform these exercises as a newbie or an advanced user requiring maintenance.
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