7 Exercises to Improve Core Strength
Core strength development is essential for daily health and wellness, as a strong core protects the spine, reduces back pain, improves movement patterns, and improves balance, stability, and posture.
The most important thing to remember when training the core is to avoid using momentum and instead perform each exercise with awareness so that the core is really supported or engaged.
The following seven exercises can be added to your current Dumbbell Core Workout routine. If you find some of these exercises too challenging, try the backward italic version. If featured equipment is not available, use your own body weight.
Core strength and stability
Regression: Perform the exercise on modified side planks with the lower shin on the floor.
Single leg lift
Posterior How to act: Hold a set of dumbbells and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right foot off the floor; rotate your pelvis so that it glides over your upper left leg. The head and foot should counteract each other. The lowest hinge point should be when the body is parallel to the floor. Keep the pelvis as neutral as possible. Complete 12 reps on each leg.
Regression: Perform the exercise without dumbbells or complete a deadlift with both feet on the ground.
BOSU Bird Dog
Core How to perform: Place your right knee in the center of the dome and place both hands on the floor below your shoulders. Extend your left leg from behind to hip level; keep your foot flexed. Raise your right arm to shoulder height with your thumb toward the ceiling. Hold for 20 seconds and switch sides.
Regression: Perform the exercise on the floor.
Spinous Toe Taps
Core How to perform: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Turn on the abs and draw the belly button towards the spine. Raise your knees to 90 degrees. On a double count, lower your right foot to touch the floor, and on a double count, return it to 90 degrees. Perform the same movement with your left leg and continue alternating tapping your right foot and then your left foot on the ground. Perform 10 reps on each leg.
Regression: Keep your feet on the floor and slide your heel across the mat, alternating legs.
Hip March Bridge
lumbopelvic How to act: Lie on your back and place your hands at your sides. Raise your hips and hold a hip bridge. Lift your right foot off the floor to 90 degrees at the hip and knee. Put your foot back on the floor and then raise your left foot to 90 degrees; go back to the center. Keep your hips lifted and maintain a neutral pelvis as you alternate leg lifts for 20 reps.
Regression: Hold a static hip bridge, keeping both feet on the floor for 30 seconds or more.
Dead bugs Stability Ball
Core How to perform: Lie on your back and raise your knees to 90 degrees. Place a stability ball between your lower legs (near the knees) and press your hands and legs toward the stability ball. Turn on the core and draw the navel towards the spine. Extend your arms and legs – the straighter the limbs, the more difficult the posture will be. Make sure your knees stay at 90 degrees when you return to the center (calves that touch the hamstrings make the exercise easier). Complete 10 reps on each side.
Regression: Perform the exercise without a stability ball and keep your knees at 90 degrees as you go down. It is similar to the toe taps, but with the addition of the arms.
Plank forearm with toe taps
From the hip: Place the body on a forearm board with the feet in contact. Begin alternating lateral toe sticks, where the right foot moves away from the body, touches the floor, and then returns to center. Repeat with the left leg. Complete a set of 10 repetitions on each leg. Use a BOSU to make the exercise more challenging.
Regression: Perform a forearm static plank with feet hip-width apart.