5 Exercises For A Strong Core: Strengthen your core FAST

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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Struggling to get that 6-pack you’ve always wanted? Have you always wanted a strong core but can’t seem to find the time or motivation? 

Skip the sit-ups and crunches, and try these 5 exercises for a strong core instead! 

With just a little bit of hard work, dedication, sweat, and determination, you’ll be able to get the strong core of your dreams in no time. 

Whether it’s an hour a day or just 15 minutes, commit to these exercises, and soon your core will be chiseled and strong.

So what are you waiting for? 

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Why You Should Do Exercises For a Strong Core

While a strong core is mostly associated with a chiseled set of six-pack, it’s far from just that.

Training your core is essential for building a strong, healthy body as a whole. 

Not only can it help to improve your posture and balance, but having strong core muscles also helps to protect and support other muscles in the body. 

Strengthening your core can also help to stabilize your spine and reduce fatigue by providing additional support when you are lifting or performing specific exercises. 

Additionally, people with a strong core may experience less back pain as they age. 

With regular practice of exercises for a strong core, you can build a core that will not only function better but also look great.

Core Anatomy

Now, before we get into the specific exercises for a strong core, let’s briefly go through the anatomy of the core.

Understanding the anatomy of your core is essential for any successful core training program. 

Your core consists of several key muscle groups, including the abdominal muscles, back extensors, and obliques. 

Knowing which muscles make up your core can help you understand which exercises are best for strengthening them. 

It’s also important to understand how each of these muscles works and what functions they serve.

Once you have a better understanding of your core’s anatomy, you can create an effective and tailored workout routine that will help you achieve a strong, healthy core.

1. Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis, also known as the ‘six-pack’ muscle, is one of the most important muscles in the body. 

Located at the front of the abdomen, it runs from the ribs to the pubic bone and plays both a cosmetic role in giving your torso a toned look and a functional role by aiding in torso flexion and maintaining internal abdominal pressure. 

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This is vital for a range of activities and overall health. 

In summary, this large chunk of muscle has multiple benefits – both visual and practical, and is a key component of the core musculature, which is why 2 of the exercises for a strong core in this article target just that!

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2. The Obliques

The obliques are a group of muscles located on the sides of the rectus abdominis, which run diagonally from the lower ribs to the pelvis. 

They are an important part of core strength and stability, responsible for torso rotation and lateral flexion of the spine. 

Additionally, they help to support internal organs, much like the rectus abdominis. 

Overall, these muscles play a critical role in the look and overall athletic function of your body!

3. Transverse Abdominis

The transverse abdominis is a deep core muscle located beneath the obliques and rectus abdominis. 

It wraps around the torso, helping to stabilize the lower back and pelvis, and also plays a role in aiding respiration.

Additionally, it helps to maintain posture while sitting or standing and can also be used to support good form while lifting weights. 

In summary, the transverse abdominis is an important and often overlooked part of developing a strong core.

4. The Glutes

The glutes, or the gluteal muscles, are a group of three muscles located in the buttocks area that play an important role in supporting core strength and stability. 

They help to facilitate hip and thigh movement, providing power when walking, running, and jumping, as well as stabilizing the pelvis during squats and lunges. 

In addition to their powerful hip action, they also work together with the abdominal muscles to maintain good posture and support the spine. 

As part of the core musculature, they are essential for maintaining overall fitness and health.

Plus… who doesn’t like a bubble butt?

5. Spinal Erectors

The spinal erectors are a group of muscles located along the spine that play an essential role in stabilizing the back and the spine. 

They help to hold up the torso and maintain posture, as well as provide support during movements such as bending and twisting. 

Additionally, they can help contract specific abdominal muscles to assist with core stability, helping to reduce the risk of back injuries. 

In summary, these powerful and often overlooked muscles are essential for maintaining good posture and movement mechanics throughout everyday activities.

And they are an especially important part of your core!

Top 5 Exercises For A Strong Core

Now that we covered the basics of your core’s anatomy, it’s time to get into the sauce of this article.

Which are the 5 best exercises for a strong core?
Without further ado, let’s have a look!

1. Stomach Vacuums

Stomach vacuums are an excellent core exercise that can help to improve abdominal strength and stability. 

Performed correctly, this exercise focuses on contracting the transverse abdominis (TA) muscle.

The contraction should be held for a few seconds before releasing and repeating multiple times. 

This exercise helps to target deep abdominal muscles, improve postural alignment, and support overall core strength and stability. 

Additionally, stomach vacuums can also possibly aid in reducing lower back pain.

Note that during the golden era of bodybuilding, stomach vacuums were considered one of the GOATs of core training.

Here’s how to do a vacuum:

  1. Lie down flat on the ground 
  2. Place your palms on your belly
  3. Breathe in
  4. Exhale fully and contract your abs
  5. Hold your breath on the exhale
  6. Suck your abdominal wall in and behind the rib cage
  7. Hold briefly
  8. Release, then repeat

2. Plank Variations

The standard plank is one of the most popular and effective core exercises. 

It works by engaging the entire core from your shoulders to your hips while also keeping your back straight and your head in line with your spine. 

Planking is an isometric exercise that strengthens the Rectus abdominis (RA), Obliques, Transverse abdominis (TA), Gluteus medius, and lower back muscles. 

Although it appears simple, it can provide great benefits when done correctly with proper form and control. 

Additionally, planks can be used as a warm-up or part of an exercise circuit to help improve overall body strength and stability.

Here’s how to do a standard plank:

  1. Lie face-down on the ground and place your elbows on the ground, angled slightly diagonally
  2. Keep your feet together, and on their toes to the ground
  3. Bring your hips and torso up – don’t let your torso hang with scapulas relaxed!
  4. Drive the tension to the abdominal area
  5. Now… Hold!

3. Knee Raises

Hanging knee raises are an excellent core exercise that combines both strength and visual benefits. 

This exercise mainly engages the six-pack muscles, but is also effective for shoulder health.

In fact, out of the bunch, this is our favorite 6-pack movement!

Here are 5 simple steps to do it properly:

  1. Hang on a pull-up bar with your hands at shoulder width
  2. Keep your feet together
  3. Very slightly swing forward
  4. As the torso is coming back, lift your knees up toward the chest, contracting the abs
  5. Bring the knees back down and repeat

4. Hyperextensions

Hyperextensions are an effective core exercise that targets your lower back and hamstrings. 

This exercise helps to promote proper posture and prevent possible injury. 

Additionally, hyperextensions help you build strong spinal support, which is essential in physical activities like running and jumping. 

Hyperextensions can be particularly beneficial for those who have weak glutes, lower back, poor posture, or tight hamstrings, as they help to build strength and reduce the risk of injury.

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  1. Adjust the hyperextension bench so that the hip pad can be right at the upper edge of your hips when the ankle pad is right at the upper portion of the ankles, above the heels
  2. Lie face down comfortably on the bench
  3. Place your hands crossed on your chest
  4. Dip your torso down slowly
  5. Come back up, contracting the lower back and glutes

With time, as these get easier, you can add weights by using a weight plate or a dumbbell.

5. Honorable Mention: Sprints

Last but not least, exercise number 5 is indeed, an honorable mention in this article – sprints!

Sprinting is an excellent core exercise, as it requires the body’s core muscles to provide stability and keeps them active throughout the entire motion. 

The main role of the core is to stabilize the body, and sprints are one of the few exercises that allow your core muscles to engage dynamically. 

Sprinting also helps improve posture and may improve flexibility in the hip flexors. 

Thus, by combining strength work with cardiovascular benefits, sprints may just be one of the great core exercises!

Even more so – sprints can be made fun by sprinting on the sand, uphill, or even with a weighted vest.

Final Thoughts on the best exercises for a strong core

So there you have it – developing a strong core is essential for overall health and well-being. 

There are many different exercises for a strong core that can help you build core strength and stability, but the five outlined in this article are some of the best and most effective. 

Incorporating these five exercises into your regular routine will help strengthen your core, improve posture, increase flexibility in your hip flexors and keep you injury-free.

So what are you waiting for? Get to the core of it!

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