Updated December 11, 2020A strong core is vital for your physical health. While a strong core is useful at the gym or when doing sports, it also affects your day-to-day life, from your posture to your ability to comfortably complete simple tasks, such as unloading your groceries or going for a walk.Even completing just 10 to 15 minutes of core exercises several times a week can strengthen your midsection and protect you from injury. This article offers simple core moves ranging from beginner to advanced to suit anybody’s experience level. Best of all? Each of these workouts can be completed at home with minimal equipment.Beginner Core ExercisesWhen you’re just starting to work out or haven’t exercised recently, it’s important to begin with basic movements. Overexerting yourself or trying to complete moves that are too difficult is counterproductive and puts you at risk for injury. Once you’re comfortable with staple moves, such as planking or toe taps, then continue on to more challenging exercises.PlankPlanks are an essential and challenging core exercise for individuals at any level of fitness. They’re a good starting move for beginners so you can learn to brace your entire core, a skill needed to complete all sorts of different exercises, such as chest presses or lunges. While planks primarily engage your core, they’re a full-body move. There’s very little movement in this exercise, though it requires maximum effort to complete properly.There are two different planks: traditional and elbow planks. In a traditional plank, you remain in a pushup position for an extended period of time. Traditional planks use shoulder and arm strength in addition to targeting your core. For elbow planks, you rest on your forearms rather than your hands, putting more emphasis on your core.Start in a push-up position and keep your hands in line with your shoulders.Lower yourself onto your forearms (if completing elbow plank).Don’t let your back sag and keep your belly button tucked in towards your spine.Hold this position for 30 to 90 seconds.Repeat for 3 to 4 sets.Supine Toe TapA popular pilates move, the supine toe tap is simple while still effective, engaging your core, glutes, legs, and hips. The exercise puts very little pressure on your spine and back, so if you struggle with back pain, this move is for you.Start on your back with your hands at your sides.Raise your legs and keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.Keeping your core tight and not letting your back to lift from the ground, lower your left foot and tap your toes onto the ground.Return your leg to its starting position.Alternate feet and lower your right foot.Repeat this 10 to 12 times for 3 sets.Dead BugDead bugs are a complete core movement where you contract and extend your torso to work your abs. The move requires stability and control, but even a beginner can master it.Start flat on your back.Extend your arms straight towards the ceiling.Lift your legs with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.Lower your right arm and left leg simultaneously to just before they meet the ground.Return your right arm and left leg to the starting position.Repeat with your left arm and right leg.Alternate and repeat the move 10 to 12 times and complete 3 sets.Intermediate Core ExercisesOnce you can complete the beginner exercises with ease, you’ll want to try some more difficult moves to further increase your endurance, stability, and strength.Bird DogThe bird dog movement may look easy, but it tests your stability, balance, and coordination skills. This exercise engages your back and core and while it may be difficult initially, it will become simpler over time.Start on your hands and knees with your hands in line with your shoulder and your knees in line with your hips.Lift your left arm and right leg simultaneously, extending them in front of you.Hold for a moment before lowering them back into your starting position.Repeat with your right arm and left leg.Complete 10 to 12 repetitions for 3 to 4 sets.Bicycle CrunchBicycle crunches are a popular and effective exercise found in many workout programs. This constant tension and movement works your obliques, core, and legs.Begin on your back.Lift your legs and bend your knees 90 degrees.Put your hands on the back or sides of your head to slightly lift it, but not to strain your neck.Bring your right knee towards your chest.At the same time, twist your torso and bring your left elbow towards your right knee.Return to your starting position and switch the arm and leg used.Repeat the movement 15 to 20 times for 3 to 4 sets.Russian TwistThe Russian Twist primarily engages your obliques, though it also uses your hips and shoulders to complete. The horizontal move also helps stabilize your spine and improves your posture.Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you and your knees slightly bent.To make the exercise more difficult, lift your legs in the air slightly.Lean your torso back and brace your core.Bend your hands out in front of you and interlock your fingers or clasp your hands together.If wanted, hold a dumbbell or medicine ball to make the move more difficult.Twist your chest from side-to-side while keeping your legs still.Repeat 10 to 12 repetitions and complete 3 to 4 sets.Advanced Core ExercisesOnce you’ve mastered the intermediate exercises and are in need of a further challenge to test your core, you can ease into more difficult moves.Leg RaisesLeg raises primarily work your lower ab muscles and while they may seem simple, they require skill to perform correctly as you don’t want to overextend your back.Lie flat on your back and keep your hands at your sides, palms on the floor.Lift your legs straight into the air at a 90-degree angle to your torso.Slowly lower your legs until they’re just above the floor, being sure not to let your lower back lift off the ground.Raise your legs back to their starting position.Repeat the movement 10 to 12 times and complete 4 sets.Stability Ball Knee TucksAs the name suggests, stability ball knee tucks require stability and balance to complete effectively. The exercise primarily works your core, though it requires shoulder and arm strength to keep you upright. You’ll need a stability ball for this move, though TRX straps are another viable option.Starting on all fours, place the tops of your feet onto a medicine ball.Place your arms in line with your shoulders, similar to a plank position.Keeping your upper body still, slowly bend your knees and bring them towards your chest, rolling the ball with your feet.Hold this position for a moment.Straighten your legs back into your starting position.Repeat this movement for 10 to 12 repetitions and do 4 sets.V Sit-UpsAlso known as the jackknife or pike crunch, this exercise targets your abs, obliques, back, and quads. It can require practice to perfect, though it’s an incredibly effective way to work your core.Get into a hollow hold position, where your back is flat on the ground and your arms and legs hover slightly above the ground.Extend your arms straight behind your head, still hovering above the ground.Squeeze your core and bring your belly button in towards your spine.Lift your legs higher up into the air, keeping them straight.Simultaneously, lift your chest and bring your hands towards your toes, forming a V with your body.Bring your arms and legs back to their starting position.Repeat 8 to 10 repetitions and 4 sets.Benefits of Core StrengthA strong core provides countless benefits beyond improving your physical appearance. With a stronger core, you’ll find everyday tasks becoming easier, including carrying children, groceries, gardening, getting dressed, and even just standing still.Three out of four adults struggle with lower back pain. Completing core workouts strengthens your back as now your abdominal muscles can support your body and improve your posture. For adults with sciatica, improved core strength can help relieve the shooting pain in the back and legs.All physical activities, whether you’re a cyclist or an avid weightlifter, benefit from a strong core. Ab strength can improve your balance and protect your body from injury when exercising.FAQsCan I train my core daily?It’s not a good idea to complete ab isolation exercises daily. Your muscles need time to relax and repair themselves, so overworking your muscles can actually be counterproductive. It’s best to limit your ab isolation workouts to 1 to 3 times a week at most.Remember, most compound exercises, such as squats or rows, require core work, so you’re likely using your abs to some degree whenever you exercise.What are the signs of a weak core?If you have a weak core, you may experience symptoms such as lower back pain, shortness of breath, pain in your feet or ankles, and a lack of balance. You may also have bad posture, a sign your core is not strong enough to keep you upright.How long does it take to get a stronger core?It can take between one to two months of consistent exercise to start strengthening your ab muscles. It will depend on the frequency and difficulty of your workouts and your eating habits, as muscles cannot grow without proper nutrition.If you’re hoping to get visible abs, it may take longer. Typically, you need to have a low body fat percentage or not hold fat in your stomach to see your abs. Hormones, gender, and genetics all affect your ability to have visible abs. You can have incredibly strong core muscles and still not have a six-pack.What muscles make up your abs?There are four primary muscle groups in your abdomen. When people imagine the look of toned abs or a “six-pack,” they’re referring to the rectus abdominis. It’s the vertical muscle extending from your pelvis to your ribs.Next, there are the external obliques, a pair of muscles on either side of the rectus abdominis. These muscles sit diagonally from your lower ribs to your pelvis and allow your body to twist from side to side.Sitting right below the external obliques are the internal obliques. The muscles are also involved in rotating your torso, though the muscles are actually opposite-side rotators. When you twist to your left, you are working your right internal oblique.Finally, your deepest abdominal muscle is called the transverse abdominis, located beneath the obliques and rectus abdominis. The muscle encircles your waist horizontally and supports your spine, lungs, and organs.Do core workouts help you lose stomach fat?You cannot choose where your body loses weight, also known as spot reduction. When losing weight, your body will lose weight all over, including your stomach, though not merely the area you work out the most frequently or aggressively. Where and how your body loses weight varies on genetics and your body composition.While core workouts can potentially help you lose stomach fat, your weight loss will be most successful when paired with regular aerobic or resistance exercises. Also, in order to lose weight, you must eat at a caloric deficit.ConclusionDespite your level of activity or lifestyle, everyone benefits from strong abdominal muscles. Putting aside just a couple minutes a few times a week to complete an ab workout can drastically improve your posture, balance, and prevent potential back pain.As your core gets stronger, you can challenge yourself by completing increasingly difficult exercises. If you’re looking for additional ways to test your core, you can try increasing the number of sets and repetitions you complete, reducing rest times between sets, using dumbbells or ankle weights, or slowing down the speed of each repetition.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.