By: Thomas Baker
Crunches? Yeah – been there, done that, pretty tired of them. Nobody wants to give their all to a workout they’re completely over, so if you’re completely sick of boring core work then these 10 moves are designed for you!
What’s a Core Exercise?
Core exercises are exercises that involve the abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis. It’s usually one of the main focus points of those beginning their weight loss journey, and what exercise does everyone suggest for the core? Yeah…crunches.
What’s Wrong with Crunches?
Let’s be honest – nobody loves crunches, but they can be effective for beginners. That being said, if you’re sticking to crunches to work your abs then you’re not getting the most out of your core routine! This simple move only works a very small portion of your abdominal muscles, so you’re missing out on the other muscles we mentioned above that are just as important for a strong core.
Let’s widen that horizon and explore some fun core exercises to improve those all-important abdominal, back and pelvis muscles!
The plank is another common core exercise that conditions the core as well as your hamstrings. It’s a great way to target those obliques, too, when you opt for a side plank (or one of its many variations) and it helps improve your balance! Just place your elbows beneath your shoulders as pictured, and tighten your core to lift your torso off the ground. Your back should be straight with everything from your glutes to your stomach tight and engaged.
The butterfly position is a great way to modify a traditional sit up as it helps with form and is easily modifiable to help make it easier or harder for you. To try it out, lie faceup on the floor with your arms extended past your head, and your knees bent with the soles of your feet facing one another (this will make a diamond-ish shape). Raise your torso to a sitting position like you would in a traditional sit-up, and reach forward with both hands to touch your ankles.
The “dead bug” exercise is one of the simple moves out that strengthens your core without putting extra strain on your back by working your deep inner core: your transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. It’s a great way to connect your mind to your core while creating a deep core muscle strength! Just lie face-up with your arms extended straight up toward the ceiling, and bend your knees 90 degrees over your hips with calves parallel to floor. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, extend your right arm and left leg away from you in opposite directions, then return to starting position. Repeat for each side.
Half Kneeling Wood Chop
This core exercise is pretty self-explanatory, but it is still a great way to work your abdominals, balance, + shoulders! Kneel on your left knee and hold a dumbbell by your left outer thigh, then shift your hips forward as you twist your torso to drive the weight up and to the right. That’s one rep!
High Boat to Low Boat
This is a unique exercise that strengthens the rectus abdominis. It keeps you focused as well as gives you a challenge! Start seated on the floor with your knees bent and palms facing up beside your knees. Lean back until your spine is at 45-degree angle as you straighten your legs and arms up in front of you into a v-shape. With a very tight core lower your back and legs a few inches so you are shaped more like a canoe. Exhale to pull back up to the v-shape and repeat!
The side bend is a simple core exercise, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective! It works the deep core muscles as well as your arms and back. Just stand facing forward with a dumbbell in one hand and, keeping your core and hips stable, slowly bring your ear towards your hip as you exhale. Inhale, tightening your core, and return to starting position.
The jackknife exercise is a complete core exercise that really uses your entire core! Just lie with your back on the ground, and exhale as your bring your torso and legs up towards each other. Simple, but brutal!
The simple leg raises that hits the lower abdominal area while strengthening your hip flexors. Like the jackknife, lie on your back. Keeping your hips and lower back on the ground, lift your legs up to a 90-degree angle, and slowly lower back into starting position.
Row Your Boat
Keeping your knees bent while rowing your boat will help strengthen your oblique muscles. If you want a challenge, try rowing your boat while your legs are straight! Either way, start in a hollow-hold position and move your arms back and forth over your legs, engaging your core as you twist.
This exercise is for the entire core. Rocking your hips from left to right will really help with tightening and strengthening the abdominal muscle, but the traditional move begins in a side plank and asks you to raise and lower your hips to engage your obliques.
If you would like to add some weight to your core exercises, ‘kettlebell’ is the way to go! There are plenty fun core exercises that can be done with a kettlebell, but including a kettlebell with your core exercises can be a little challenging. Make sure you keep a close eye on form, and adjust what size kettlebell you use for these different core exercises. Here are a few fun kettlebell core exercises you can do to help your abdominal, back, pelvis and deep core muscles – plus, other major muscle groups as well!
- Kettlebell Squat: A simple squat that will target your core along with your quadriceps and hamstrings.
- Kettlebell Deadlift: Bending over with your kettlebell until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings while keeping your core tight.
- Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift: Putting weight on one leg while raising the other leg when you bend over with your kettlebell will help your balance and target core.
- Kettlebell Swing: Letting the kettlebell swing from chest high to between your groin while squeezing your core, glutes and quads.
What are your go-to core exercises? Tell us in the comments below!