While it’s true that exercises like crunches and sit-ups will work your abs to an extent, they are far less efficient than their popularity would have you believe. And unless you have near PERFECT form, doing 1000s of crunches is far more likely to end up working out your thighs and potentially injuring your lower back instead of helping you sculpt that elusive six-pack.
On the other hand, core, refers to all of your abdominal muscles as well as your back muscles and glutes. Doing exercises that target your core muscles instead of just one area of your abs will make your workout more efficient and more effective.
So without further ado, here are 13 of the best core exercises to help you on your way to a set of rock-hard abs. Warning! Get ready for a lot of planking!
There are also variations of the exercises for beginners and advanced, so no excuses! Let’s get to it!
- Forearm plank
- Rocking forearm plank
- High plank
- High plank with shoulder taps
- Bird dog
- Weighted bird dog
- Hip thrusts
- Commando plank
- Side plank
- Spiderman plank
- Slow mountain climbers
- Side plank with rotation
- Dead bugs
- Renegade row
1. Forearm plank
If you've ever done a core workout before, then you should be familiar with this staple exercise.
Begin by kneeling on your mat. Lean forward and place your hands and forearms on the mat. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Then, lift your hips up toward the ceiling, propping yourself up onto your toes, so your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.
Keep your belly button tucked in towards your spine and squeeze those glutes!
If you're a beginner and you find it too challenging to hold this pose, start by doing the exercise with your knees on the ground. Just remember to keep the tension in your core, and maintain a straight line from your hips.
2. Rocking forearm plank
Start in the forearm plank position. Then, keeping the tension in your core, rock your entire body forward, coming more onto your toes, and allowing your shoulders to go past your elbows. Rock back to the starting position.
Do this for 30 seconds.
Drop to your knees to make this exercise easier, but remember to keep the tension in your core muscles and maintain a straight line from your hips to your shoulders.
3. High plank
Instead of performing the plank on your forearms, pop up onto your hands, so your arms are straight, and your palms are facing down on the mat directly below your shoulders. Your hips should be in line with your shoulders.
Hold the position for 30 seconds. Keep breathing throughout the duration of the exercise.
4, High plank with shoulder taps
Now, stay in that high plank position and keeping the tension in your body, take your right hand and tap your left shoulder, then bring your hand back to the mat and repeat the other side.
If you need to take a break, bring your knees down, stretch into child’s pose, take a deep breath and resume.
Repeat for 30 seconds.
5. Bird dog
Start on all fours on your mat. Then extend one arm straight out in front of you at the same time as you extend the opposite leg out behind you. Your limbs should end up parallel to the floor. Keep the tension in your abs throughout the exercise.
Steadily bring your arm and leg back to the strating position and repeat the other side.
Do this for 30 seconds, performing 3 sets in total.
6. Weighted bird dog
For an added challenge, add some weight! Grab a dumbbell in each hand to really feel the burn.
Do 2 or 3 sets of 30 seconds each.
7. Hip thrust
Hip thrusts work your glutes and thighs, as well as your core.
Place your the top part of your upper body on an elevated surface (like a couch or bed) with your feet and butt on the floor. Push through your heels and lift your hips until they are in line with your shoulders and knees, Squeeze your glutes! Then bring your hips back to the floor and repeat. To increase the intensity of the exercise, hold a dumbell over your hips.
Repeat for 30 seconds.
8. Commando plank
Start in high plank position, resting on your hands and toes with a neutral spine. From here, lower down onto one forearm at a time then back up onto your hands.
Haz el ejercicio durante 30 segundos.
If you find this too challenging in the beginning, you can come down onto your knees, leaning slightly forward to make sure that you are still working your core muscles. Just remember to keep a neutral spine!
9. Side plank
Lie on your side with your feet stacked on top of each other and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your abs and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position without letting your hips drop.
Hold this position for 20 seconds then change to the other side.
To make the side plank easier, you can do the exercise on your knees to begin. Just remember to keep your abs engaged and back straight.
10. Spiderman plank
Start in a forearm plank position with your body perfectly straight. Bring your left knee towards your left elbow, keeping the tension in your core. Return to the plank position then repeat the other side.
11. Slow mountain climbers
Start in high plank position, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
Keeping the tension in your core and your upper body as still as possible, bring your right knee to your right elbow. This should be one steady movement. Repeat the other side.
12. Side plank rotation
Start in side plank position. Lift your free arm into the air straight above you. Then bring your arm under your body beyond your hips, twisting your torso. Lift your arm again and repeat.
To increase the intensity, hold a dumbbell in your hand while you perform the exercise.
13. Dead bugs
Lie flat on your back with your legs at a 90 degree angle and your arms straight in the air above you. Extend your left arm straight out behind your head at the same time you extend your right leg straight out until it is hovering just above the floor.
Return slowly to the starting position and repeat with the other extremities.
14. Renegade row
This is one of the BEST core exercises you can do. It's hard, but it's worth it!
Get into a high plank position with a dumbbell in each hand (start with a light weight and gradually increase it). Brace your body. If you need to, you can place your feet slightly wider apart for stability. Once you’re ready, row one weight upward until your upper arm is slightly higher than your torso and then lower back to the ground and repeat on the other side.
If this is too difficult, you can bring your knees to the ground. Just remember to keep the tension in your core as you perform the exercise, and not to arch your back.
You did it!
14 of the best exercises to help you sculpt a rock-solid core. You can find here más rutinas por partes del cuerpo y si te gustaría que diseñemos alguna rutina en especial – ¡déjanoslo saber en los comentarios abajo! ¡Hasta la próxima!
Caty is an ISSA-certified personal trainer. She loves doing HIIT and core workouts.
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