When it comes to shaping up, the belly commands a lot of attention. After all, who doesn’t want a trim mid-section?
Connecting your upper and lower body, the core consists of your ab muscles and several muscles in your mid and low back. Beyond helping you look good, the core is your body’s center, which is involved in virtually every large movement you make.
A strong core improves your posture, enhances sports performance, boosts stability and balance, reduces low back pain and makes it easier to perform activities of daily living, such as housework and carrying groceries.
Although there are lots of core exercises, many of us tend to fall into habitually doing the same ones. While it’s fine to have favorites, incorporating new and different challenges into your routine can spark motivation and results.
In our efforts to provide you with more core exercises, here we skip some of the tried-and-true ones, such as crunches and standard planks, which you should be doing already. We specifically selected some you can do without equipment, so they are ideal for home workouts. Review this list of more core exercises, pick a few to try and get to work with one-two sets of 10-15 reps.
More Core Exercises
- Standing side crunch. Standing with feet wide, toes slightly turned out and knees bent, place your hands behind your head and bend from your right side to aim your elbow towards your right hip. Return to center and repeat to the left side.
- Bird dog. On all fours, extend your right leg straight back and lift to hip height. Extend your left arm straight from the shoulder, parallel with the floor. Draw your right knee toward the chest while pulling the left elbow toward the right knee, then extend the leg and arm straight. Complete repetitions and then switch sides.
- Side plank rotation. Place your right hand and right knee on a mat, then extend your left leg and raise your left arm straight up from shoulder. Rotate at the waist while you draw your left arm down below your armpit; then return to the start position and repeat before switching sides. To make this harder, extend your right leg into a full side plank position.
- Russian twist. Sit with your knees bent together and feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands together at your chest and lean back 30 to 45 degrees. Rotating from the waist, try to touch your hands to the floor outside of your right hip. Return to center and repeat to the left hip. To make this exercise more difficult, lift feet off the floor.
- Butterfly sit-up. Lie face up with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to sides. Extend both arms overhead, then roll the body up to a seated position and reach forward toward toes. Slowly roll down and repeat.
- Single-leg jackknife. Lie on your back with legs straight and arms by your sides. As you lift your right leg straight up, extend your left arm so you left hand reaches your right foot (making a letter V with the torso and legs). Return to the floor and repeat with the opposite side.
- Leg drop. Lie on your back with your hands tucked underneath your hips for extra support. Extend straight legs to the ceiling, then slowly lower legs back down to hover a few inches off the floor. Hold for a moment, then lift legs back up and repeat. Keep your lower back flat on floor; if it is arching, don’t lower your legs as far.