Your core consists of various muscles in your trunk - including the abdominals, obliques, back muscles, glutes, and hip flexors - that move and stabilise your spine and pelvis.
A strong core has numerous benefits including injury prevention, improved balance, posture and stability, as well as reduced back pain. Additionally, exercising your core releases beneficial neurotransmitters (our brain messengers) that regulate emotions.
With that in mind, here are 8 core body workouts that can help stabilise your centre and tone your abs.
Crunches are a classic core exercise that provides an intense abdominal workout - and will help to achieve that six-pack that may have disappeared over winter. Incorporating crunches into your daily routine will also help to maintain excellent balance and posture.
Remember, crunches (along with most ab exercises) are not a cardiovascular exercise and won’t burn fat, so the effects are almost exclusive to the abdomen area. To avoid back pain, it's also important to perform them correctly - here's how to crunch like a pro.
2. Bicycle Crunches
A well-known ab workout, the bicycle crunch is an excellent alternative for a more dynamic set of crunches. As the name suggests, you assume the position of a crunch, then raise your legs and essentially “pedal a bike” in the air.
This workout is excellent for engaging the deep internal muscles in your abs, something that is often challenging with many exercises. And, as an added benefit, you’re also engaging your upper abdomen and toning your thighs simultaneously. Here’s how to make sure you do these bicycle crunches correctly.
Love it or loathe it, the plank might be one of the best ab workouts for improving your stability and core strength. There are a few different versions of the plank, so no matter your ability level, there is an option for you. Healthline describes 15 different types of planks, so you can progress through from super easy to pretty hard at your own pace.
4. Russian Twists
Another workout to add to your fitness regimen is the Russian Twist. It involves the rotation of your body while you hold your legs off the ground. Believe it or not, by simply keeping your legs up in the air, you’re already engaging your core, and the twisting motion adds to the intensity. With this core workout, you should prioritise quality over quantity. It requires carefully twisting your body as you do every rep, and it strengthens your spine as you hold a leaning-back position during the process. Take this workout for a test drive today – and if at first, it’s too difficult, you can keep your feet on the ground until your core becomes strong enough to lift them off the ground.
5. Dead Bug
The "dead bug" is a solid workout that is focused on strengthening the deep muscles in your core, and it’s great for beginners. When performed correctly, this exercise encourages the deep, stabilising muscles of your lower back, abdominals, and hips to contract, which in turn will stop your back from twisting or arching during the exercise.
6. Lying Leg Raises
This is one exercise that is sure to burn not only your abdominal muscles but also your hip flexors and glutes. It’s a workout that helps to increase the strength and definition of your abs and also improves your overall flexibility and stability. The exercise involves lying on the ground and then, with your legs straight, lifting them up and down. They can also be performed while hanging from a bar. Women’s Health Magazine has some great tips to ensure you get the most out of this versatile exercise.
7. Bridge (hip raises)
This exercise primarily engages your back muscles, but it also helps to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings while stretching your chest, neck and spine, so it’s a solid all-rounder and a good way to finish off your training session. In a nutshell, the exercise involves laying on the floor and lifting your butt, essentially making a “bridge” with your feet and shoulders supporting the arch. As you become more familiar with the bridge, you can increase the intensity by placing a weight on your hips.
Performing V-Ups will strengthen many of your core muscles, help to build balance and improve your posture. This workout will fire up your abs because it forces you to use your core strength to pull your legs and torso up and towards each other. It’s not for beginners, but if you’re looking for a new challenge to push your abdominals to a whole new level, this is a great exercise to incorporate into your schedule.
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