5 Strengthening Exercises for Your Core

What’s your core made of? Not steel, of course! But you can build steel-like strength in your core by doing 20 minutes of core strengthening exercises at home. A strong core improves and corrects your posture, reduces the risk of back injury and back pain, and makes everyday tasks easy. So, let’s get started, shed some flab, and inspire others. But first, let’s answer a few basic questions.

What Does ‘Core’ Really Mean?

The core is just not your abdominal muscles. Surprise! Yes, your core is everything apart from your arms, legs, and head. So, from your abdominals, to the back, the hips, the back of your shoulders – everything falls under “core”.

ts main function is to generate enough power to aid all body movements. The abs are a part of your core, but they are not the only core muscles. To strengthen your core, you must target all the core muscles. What are those muscles, and where are they located in the body? Find out next.

What Are The Core Muscles?

Here’s the list of all the core muscles:

  1. External Abdominal Obliques – These are the muscles seen pointing diagonally downwards from either side. They are located on the side and front of the abdomen.
  2. Internal Abdominal Obliques – These muscles are under the external abdominal obliques, but point in the opposite direction.
  3. Rectus Abdominis – These are the muscles that correspond to the popularly known ‘six-pack’, seen as those squarish parts in the middle. They are located along the front of the abdomen.
  4. Transverse Abdominis – These are the deepest muscles, behind the oblique muscles and around the spine.
  5. Glutes – These are the hip muscles that help in various movements like walking, sitting, and bending.
  6. Pelvic Floor – These are the muscles that you can feel when you try to stop urinating. You will know your pelvic floor muscles are weak if you pass a little urine unintentionally when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or workout.
  7. Scapular Muscles – These muscles include the ones present on your upper back and at the back of your shoulders – the trapezius, rhomboid, teres minor and major, serratus anterior, pectoralis minor, etc.

So, now you know that to strengthen the core, you must target all the muscles mentioned above. Let’s get started with the exercises.

Remember, warm up for a good 10 minutes before you start. Here are the core strengthening exercises.

#1- Flutter kicks

Begin with flutter kicks that target the following muscles.

Target Muscles – Glutes, hip flexors, lower abs, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Level – Beginner

How To Do Flutter Kicks
  1. Lie down on your back on a mat. Keep your hands by your side, palms flat on the mat, back flat against the mat, and look up at the ceiling.
  2. Engage your core, lift both your legs off the ground and alternately kick them up and down. Do not let your feet touch the ground before you complete one set.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

#2- Russian Twist

The Russian twist is an amazing exercise to get rid of the “love handles”. It will help you shed the flab and get a strong core. You can do it on a mat or a bench and may or may not use weights (medicine ball or a dumbbell). Here are the muscles it works on.

Target Muscles – Internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, traps, spinal erectors, shoulders, hamstrings, and quads.
Level – Intermediate

How To Do The Russian Twist
  1. Sit on the mat with your knees flexed and feet flat on the mat. Hold the medicine ball or dumbbell with both your hands and lean back a little.
  2. Engage your core, lift your legs in the same flexed-knee pose, and cross them.
  3. Start twisting from side to side. Keep your lower body and neck still.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

#3- Bicycle Crunch

This is a variation of the regular crunch exercise. Here are the muscles that bicycle crunch targets.

Target Muscles – Upper, mid, and lower abs, obliques, quads, hamstrings, calves, lats, and shoulders.
Level – Intermediate

How To Do Bicycle Crunches
  1. Lie flat on the floor, and place your arms by your side.
  2. Place your hands behind your head. Raise your head and right knee.
  3. Touch your left elbow to your right knee and straighten your left leg.
  4. Touch your right elbow to the left knee and extend your right leg.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

#4- Sit-ups

You have probably heard of sit-ups before and know that they are good for toning your belly. Here are the muscles that this exercise targets.

Target Muscles – Upper, mid, and lower abs, obliques, and deltoids.
Level – Beginner

How To Do Sit-ups
  1. Lie on the floor with the knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms by the side, and palms on the floor.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest so that they are resting on opposite shoulders. Or place your fingertips behind your head.
  3. Engage your core, lift your head slightly off the ground, and use your shoulders to lift your upper body off the floor until you are in a sitting pose.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and go back to starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

#5- Plank

The plank is one of the best core strengthening exercises. And that’s because it works on most of the core muscles. Here are the muscles you can activate by doing planks.

Target Muscles – Abs, glutes, quads, shoulders, hamstrings, and biceps.
Level – Intermediate

How To Do A Plank
  1. Get into a push-up position with the elbows flexed, forearms and toes on the floor, and your body in a straight line from the head to the heels.
  2. Make sure to keep your elbows right below your shoulders.
  3. Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes to prevent any sagging in your middle.
  4. Look down at the floor. Avoid any strain on your head and neck.
  5. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Sets And Reps – 2 planks of 30-60 seconds hold

Benefits Of Core Strengthening Exercises

  1. Help you get a flat tummy.
  2. Improve core muscle power.
  3. Improve muscle coordination.
  4. Prevent injury.
  5. Help stabilize the torso.
  6. Improve respiratory function.
  7. Improve posture.
  8. Stabilize the spine, ribs, and pelvis.

These core strengthening exercises will give you a flat tummy, improve your overall posture, and keep many health risks at bay. So, put on your exercising clothes, tie your hair up, and get a killer body by doing these exercises regularly.

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