Best Core Workouts
A strong core helps you move and perform better. Here are the best workouts to help keep your core strong.
Your core is the foundation for all physical movement and stabilization in your body, helping you move and perform better in all aspects of life—from carrying groceries, doing chores and playing with your kids to running, swimming and hiking—so it’s important to keep it strong.
Your core, which is made up of all the muscles in your torso such as your obliques, abdominals, erector spinae and glutes, only moves in four variations or combinations of the following basic movement patterns: flexion (curling your torso in), extension (bending your torso back), rotation (twisting your torso) and lateral flexion (contracting the side of your torso). Here are some of the best core workouts you can do that incorporate each of these planes of movements to help keep you moving and performing at your best.
Jackknife (single plane, trunk flexion) – Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your arms and legs extended. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in to your spine and raising your legs up off the mat while bringing your arms over head and reaching out in front towards your toes. Hold for a count of three before lowering back down to the mat before repeating the move 8 to 12 times.
Bird Dog (single plane, trunk extension) – Get on all fours on your mat with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keeping your head down and aligned with your spine, reach your right arm up out in front of you while simultaneously extending your left leg back behind you, using your core to stabilize your body and ensuring your hips and shoulders are parallel to the floor. Hold for three seconds before lowering your limbs back down and extending your arm and leg on the opposite side, alternating for 8 to 12 reps.
Russian Twist (single plane, trunk rotation) – Grab a light dumbbell or medicine ball and sit on your mat with your legs out in front of you, knees bent and your feet placed on the mat. Engage your core and lean back slightly, either keeping your feet on the mat or raising them off the mat slightly for a more challenging exercise. Hold the dumbbell out in front of you, and twist slowly from side to side, alternating for 8 to 12 reps.
Side Plank (static/isometric, trunk lateral flexion) – Lying on one side on your mat, engage your core as you place one elbow or hand directly under your shoulder while stacking your feet so you’re propped up on your side, keeping your spine in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds before switching sides.