10 Essential Core Strengthening Exercises for Beginners

Incorporating core strengthening exercises into your routine is essential for a healthy and active lifestyle.

A strong core improves your posture and balance, helps protect your back, and supports your movements. Whether you’re just starting on your fitness journey or looking to enhance your current routine, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started with core strengthening exercises.

This step-by-step guide will cover the important ten basics of core strengthening exercises. So, buckle up and prepare to take your fitness to the next level!

1. Front plank exercise

The front plank exercise is a core-strengthening exercise that targets the muscles in the abdominal and back regions. The exercise is performed in a push-up position but with the arms extended. The forearms and toes support the body rather than the hands and feet. 

Here is the step-by-step guide to doing the front plank,

  1. Start by getting into a push-up position with your arms extended. Next, place your hands directly below your shoulders, with your palms flat on the floor.
  2. Lower your body onto your forearms so your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Keep your body straight and your head in line with your spine.
  3. Engage your core muscles and hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
  4. To increase the difficulty, you can add time or incorporate dynamic movement like knee to elbow or even push-ups while in plank position.

Make sure to breathe steadily while in the plank position and focus on form, contracting the abdominal and glute muscles while avoiding sinking the hips or raising the lower back.

2. Side plank exercise

The side plank exercise is a core-strengthening exercise that primarily targets the muscles on the side of the body, including the obliques, quadratus lumborum, and hip abductors.

The exercise is performed by supporting the body with one arm and the side of the foot with the other arm extended toward the ceiling.

The correct steps on how to do a side plank are, 

  1. Start by lying on your side with your legs straight and your bottom foot stacked on the other. Next, prop yourself up on your elbow and forearm so that your body forms straight from your head to your feet.
  2. Push through the heel of your bottom foot and the side of your bottom hand to lift your hips off the ground. Keep your top arm extended toward the ceiling and your head aligned with your spine.
  3. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
  4. To make the exercise more challenging, lift the top leg off the bottom leg, keep it straight and in line with the rest of your body, or hold a weight with the top hand.
  5. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

3. Ball exchange exercise

The ball exchange exercise is a dynamic core exercise that challenges stability and balance while working on abdominal muscles. This exercise requires a medicine ball or a similar weighted ball.

The steps of doing this exercise are as follows,

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and holding a medicine ball at chest level.
  2. Lower your body into a squat position, keeping your back straight and your chest up.
  3. While squatting, throw the ball to a partner or against a wall and catch it on the rebound.
  4. When you catch the ball, immediately stand up and repeat the movement.
  5. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions or time

This exercise is excellent for core stability as it requires your core to work to maintain balance and strength during the movement. It also works as a cardiovascular exercise as well. As you progress, you can increase the ball’s weight or speed of the ball exchange.

4. Sit up with a twist

The sit-up with a twist exercise is a variation of the traditional sit-up that targets the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors. In addition, this exercise also works the oblique muscles by adding a rotation in the movement.

Here’s how to do the sit-up with a twist exercise,

  1. Start by lying on a mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold a weight, like a medicine ball or a dumbbell, against your chest with your arms extended.
  3. Sit up, using your abdominal muscles to lift your torso off the mat while simultaneously twisting your torso to the right and reaching the weight to the right side of your body.
  4. Lower your body back to the starting position, and repeat the movement, twisting to the left side.
  5. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions while keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed.

It’s essential to control your movement and not use momentum to lift your torso. Also, make sure not to overach your lower back. You can add or decrease the weight as you progress to increase or decrease difficulty.

5. Single-leg hip raise

The single-leg hip raise exercise is a core-strengthening exercise that targets the hip, glutes, and lower back muscles. It also improves stability, balance, and flexibility in the hip joint. This exercise is also called “single leg bridge” or “Single leg hip thrust.” Here’s how to do the single-leg hip raise exercise:

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Raise one foot off the floor, keeping the knee bent. This will be the working leg for the exercise.
  3. Drive through the heel of the working leg and press your hips up towards the ceiling.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions and switch legs to work the opposite side.

You can also increase the difficulty by adding a resistance band around your knee or ankle or using a weight plate on your hips.

6. Windshield wiper exercise

The windshield wiper exercise is a core-strengthening exercise that targets the oblique muscles on the abdominal region’s sides. This exercise also works the hip flexors, lower back muscles and stability.

The steps of doing this exercise are as follows,

  1. Start by lying on your back on a mat with your arms extended out to your sides and your legs in a 90-degree position with your knees bent and feet together.
  2. Lower your legs to the right side as far as possible without lifting your shoulders off the mat.
  3. Slowly bring your legs back to the centre, then lower them to the left side similarly.
  4. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.

Keep your lower back pressed to the mat during the entire movement. Also, control your breathing and keep the actions slow and controlled. You can adjust the difficulty of the exercise by changing the angle of your legs. A wider angle will make the movement more challenging. You can also add resistance by holding a weight plate on your chest or using a resistance band.

7. Russian twist with the medicine ball

The Russian twist with a medicine ball is a core-strengthening exercise that targets the oblique muscles and the rectus abdominis (abs) by adding a rotation movement. This exercise is a variation of the traditional Russian twist exercise and requires a medicine ball or similar weighted object.

Here’s how to do the Russian twist with a medicine ball,

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat.
  2. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground so your thighs and torso form a V-shape.
  3. Hold a medicine ball or weight with both hands at chest level.
  4. Twist your torso to the right, touching the medicine ball to the ground beside you.
  5. Return to the starting position and twist to the left, touching the ball to the ground on the opposite side.
  6. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, keeping your back straight and your abs engaged throughout the movement.

The added resistance of the medicine ball increases the difficulty of the exercise and works on stability and rotational movement. You can increase or decrease the weight of the ball to adjust the difficulty of the exercise.

8. Plank knee to opposite elbow

The plank knee to opposite elbow exercise is a variation of traditional core strengthening exercises that effectively target the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and lower back muscles.

In addition to strengthening the core, this exercise also challenges stability and balance, making it a comprehensive addition to your core strengthening routine.

Here’s how to do the plank knee to the opposite elbow:

  1. Start in a plank position with your arms straight, hands shoulder-width apart, and your feet hip-width apart. Keep your body straight from your head to your toes, with your core engaged.
  2. Bring your right knee towards your left elbow, then return to the starting position.
  3. Repeat the movement by bringing your left knee towards your right elbow.
  4. Continue alternating sides for the desired number of repetitions.

Make sure to keep your abs tight and your hips level throughout the entire movement. The motion should be smooth and controlled. As you progress, you can increase the speed of the activity or hold a weight during the exercise to increase the difficulty.

9. Bosu ball curl-up and press

The Bosu ball curl-up and press is a variation of traditional core strengthening exercises that utilize the Bosu ball for added balance and stability challenges.

This exercise effectively targets the abdominal muscles and the shoulders, making it a well-rounded addition to your core strengthening routine. With its dome-shaped design, the Bosu ball can be used with either the dome or the flat side up, providing versatility in your exercise options.

Here’s how to do the Bosu ball curl-up and press exercise:

  1. Start by lying on your back on the dome-side of the Bosu ball, with your hands behind your head and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Curl your upper body up towards your knees while at the same time pressing the Bosu ball up towards the ceiling.
  3. Pause at the movement’s top, then lower your body to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions

Make sure to keep your lower back pressed to the ball and keep your neck in a neutral position throughout the entire movement. Keep the activities slow and controlled. You can adjust the difficulty by adding weights to your hands or changing the angle of the ball.

10. Mountain climber on a slide board

The mountain climber exercise on a slide board is a unique variation of traditional core strengthening exercises.

By incorporating the slide board, this exercise adds an element of instability. It increases the challenge to the core, leg, and shoulder muscles, effectively enhancing your core strength.

Here is the step-by-step guide to doing mountain climbing on a slide board,

  1. Start in a push-up position with your hands on the slide board and your feet on a set of gliding disks or towels.
  2. Bring your right knee towards your chest, then slide it back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat the movement with your left knee.
  4. Continue alternating legs as if running in place while in a push-up position.

Keep your back straight, your core engaged, and your hips level throughout the movement. Keep the movement at a controlled speed. The instability of the slide board will increase the challenge to your core muscles and work on your leg and shoulder muscles. You can adjust the difficulty by adding weight to your upper body or increasing the movement’s speed.

Do them within your limits.

It’s important to note that working within your limits and progressing safely and comfortably is essential. It’s best to start with shorter holds and gradually increase the time as your core strength improves. Consult a professional trainer for proper guidance and modification for your physical status.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating core strengthening exercises into your fitness routine is essential for a robust, stable, healthy body.

The exercises discussed in this blog post are perfect for beginners and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Remember to start with the basics and gradually increase the difficulty level as your strength and stability improve. Remember to breathe, engage your core throughout the exercises, and always listen to your body.

Consistency is critical, so make time for these exercises regularly. With a little dedication and effort, you’ll be on your way to a strong and toned core in no time!

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