Best Core Exercises for Home and Gym
A strong core can pay off big time — a strong midsection helps improve your posture, keeps back pain away, and contributes to more overall strength throughout your whole body.
Whether you just need a few new moves to switch up your routine, or you’re completely stumped about where to start, here are some great exercises that you can do to strengthen your core.
Click on the link for each move to get a detailed breakdown on form, including photos to help you master each exercise.
The plank is a popular core move for a reason — it’s effective! You’ll also work your shoulders, arms, and glutes. Move down to your forearms if this version is too difficult or if you have problems with your wrists.
Up the difficulty of a standard plank with this more difficult version. Side planks work your obliques more, too.
Once you’ve mastered the forearm version, advance by placing your palm on the floor. Be sure to do both sides.
You’ll never get as strong as you’d like doing traditional crunches, and that’s where bicycle crunches come in. Set a timer for 1 minute and see how many you can do.
The reverse crunch is another spin on the traditional crunch. For added difficulty you can also hold a weight in between your feet.
You can do these with or without weights, and they’ll torch your midsection. If you don’t have free weights at home you can use a full milk jug, a heavy book, your infant… or any other weighted object your creativity can dream up.
This move can feel more difficult than it looks, and it’s a great way to finish off a workout. It shouldn’t be your primary core move, though.
V-ups have the added benefit of helping you improve your functional flexibility while you work your core.
Don’t let the name lull you into a false sense of security — this is one difficult move. If the roll part of the exercise is too difficult you can also do your supermans and bananas as their own separate moves.
Like any other muscle group in your body, your core can benefit from hitting the weights. If you have access to a gym or have a cable machine at home, try these rope crunches.
Give your obliques some love with the weights, too. The side bend can be done with dumbbells, but plates and kettlebells also work great.
Stability balls are another great tool you can use to work your core, and this jackknife move will help you work them from a whole new angle.
Another stability ball favorite — how many rollouts can you do?
To make this move even harder, try passing the ball between your legs and hands, bringing the ball down with your legs on every other repetition (while your arms remain over your head, holding the ball.) Remember to keep your core tight and press your lower back into the ground.