19 of the All-Time Best Core Exercises that Will Get You in Incredible Shape

Strengthen the entire core and increase shoulder strength and stability.

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Plank

all-time-best-core-exercises-plankMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Assume a plank position, resting on your elbows, with the balls of your feet about shoulder width apart. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders, your back should be flat, and your neck should form a straight line with your back. Tighten your rear end and abdominals and the front of the thighs.
  2. Hold this position for the suggested amount of time. Do not allow your lower back to sag.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core.

Form tip: To intensify this exercise, narrow your base of support by moving your feet closer together. (Try these plank exercises to perform your abs.)

For a more extensive list of exercises like this, get my new book, 60 Second Sweat.

Plank walk-up

all-time-best-core-exercises-plankwalkupMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Assume a plank position, resting on your elbows, with the balls of your feet about shoulder width apart. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders, your back should be flat, and your neck should form a straight line with your back. Tighten your rear end, abdominals, and the front of the thighs.
  2. Plant your right hand on the ground and push up, then do the same with your left hand, to walk up and onto your hands.
  3. Reverse the movement going back down, moving onto one elbow at a time. Repeat for the suggested number of reps, not allowing your lower back to sag.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core and increases shoulder strength and stability.

Form tip: To intensify this exercise, bring your feet together and narrow your base of support.

Long lever plank

all-time-best-core-exercises-longleverplanksMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Assume a plank position, resting on your elbows, with the balls of your feet about shoulder width apart. Your elbows should be a few inches in front of your shoulders, forming a longer lever than in a standard plank. Your back should be flat, and your neck should form a straight line with your back. Tighten your rear end, abdominals, and the front of the thighs.
  2. Hold this position for the suggested amount of time, not allowing your lower back to sag.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core.

Form tip: To intensify this exercise, bring your feet together and narrow your base of support.

Inch worm

all-time-best-core-exercises-inchwormsMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Stand with your feet together. Bend at your waist and touch your toes. Keep your knees as straight as possible, but if you need to bend them to reach your toes, go ahead and do so.
  2. Slowly walk your hands away from your feet, inching your way forward until your body is parallel, or near parallel, to the floor and your hands are about a foot in front of your shoulders. Pause for a full second in this position.
  3. Keeping your abdominals and rear end tight and your back flat, walk your way slowly back into the starting position and repeat for the suggested number of reps.

What it does: Strengthens your entire core, increases shoulder stability, and stretches and lengthens the back of your thighs.

Form tip: Do not move through this movement too fast. Take your time walking in and out, and focus on tightening up your core.

Side plank

all-time-best-core-exercises-sideplankMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Lie on your left side with your left elbow propped up directly underneath your shoulder. Your legs should be straight and stacked on top of each other.
  2. Tightening your abs and the front of your thighs, lift your hips up and into the air. Your body should form a straight line.
  3. Hold this position, not allowing your hips to sag, for the suggested amount of time before switching sides.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core with an emphasis on the side abdominals.

Form tip: Make sure your top shoulder does not rotate forward, as this makes the exercise less effective for your side abdominals.

Single-arm dumbbell carry

all-time-best-core-exercises-singlearmdumbbellcarryMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Stand, holding a dumbbell in your right hand, with your right arm hanging down by your body.
  2. Keeping your right shoulder blade pulled back and the dumbbell a few inches off the side of your thigh, walk for the suggested number of steps before switching hands.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core, with an emphasis on the side abdominals and the gripping muscles in your hands.

Form tip: Do not allow the dumbbell to pull you to the side.

Double-arm dumbbell carry

all-time-best-core-exercises-doubledumbbellcarryMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Stand, holding a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms hanging down by your sides and your palms facing in.
  2. Keeping your shoulders pulled back, walk at a steady pace for the suggested number of steps.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core, upper back, and gripping muscles in your hands.

Form tip: To enhance the effectiveness of the exercise and the involvement of your upper back muscles, walk tall and don’t allow your shoulders to hunch or round forward.

Overhead dumbbell carry

all-time-best-core-exercises-overheaddumbbellcarryMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Stand, holding a dumbbell in your right hand over your head, with the palm facing in toward your body. Your right shoulder should be packed down into its socket.
  2. Keeping your right wrist straight and tightening your abdominals, walk at a steady pace for the suggested number of steps before switching arms.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core, with an emphasis on the side abdominals, and builds shoulder stability.

Form tip: To avoid potential injury to the shoulder, start with a very conservative weight—20 to 30 pounds for most people—until you get the feel of the exercise.

Hollow body hold

all-time-best-core-exercises-hollowbodyholdsMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Place your fingertips behind your ears with your elbows out.
  2. Straighten your legs and raise them about a foot off the ground, keeping your lower back pressed into the floor.
  3. Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor.
  4. Hold this position for the suggested amount of time.

What it does: Strengthens the entire core.

Form tip: If the exercise is too difficult, place your hands across your chest as you crunch up and hold.

Reverse crunch

all-time-best-core-exercises-reversecrunchesMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Lie flat on your back on a flat bench with your hands gripping the bench by your ears and your legs bent to a 90-degree angle at the knee. Bring your knees over your waist.
  2. Using your lower abdomen, roll your hips back toward your rib cage until your lower back rolls off the bench a few inches and your knees come over your chest. You should not feel pressure in your neck; if you do, you’ve rolled too far back.
  3. Reverse the motion, rolling back to the starting position where your lower back is flat against the bench. Repeat for the suggested number of reps.

What it does: Strengthens the lower abdominals.

Form tip:To avoid lower-back discomfort, do not allow your feet to come all the way back down to the bench during the lowering phase of the exercise. (Not a fan of crunches? Tone your abs without doing a single one.)

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