A strong core is more than just washboard abs. It’s the key to balanced strength. Not only will having a strong core help you with day-to-day tasks, but it will make other excises such as squats and lunges a lot easier to master.
The core consists of more than just your rectus abdominis and external oblique muscles. There are also other, deeper muscles, such as the erector spinae in the lower back, the transverse abdominis, and the pelvic floor muscles.
Improving core strength is particularly vital for those suffering from back pain, as many lower back injuries are a result of inadequate core strength.
Ensuring your core stays strong doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the gym or pay hundreds to hire a certified personal trainer. Our ten-minute core workout is a great way to keep on top of your core strength.
Use your phone to start a timer, and switch exercises after every minute. Rotate through the first block of exercises for 8 minutes, before moving onto the 30-second plank variations to finish the workout off. Focus on going slowly and activating your core – rather than rushing through reps – as this will ensure that you get the most out of your workout.
When you’re in the correct starting position for each of the core exercises, ensure that your core muscles are engaged.
Why work out your core muscles?
Your core consists of a set of muscles that extend beyond just your ‘abs’. This set of muscles stabilises us, and allows us to keep stable and balanced.
When attempting exercises such as squats, we need our core muscles to push ourselves back up. When the deeper core muscles aren’t strong enough, we risk straining or injuring our lower back, as it compensates for our lack of core strength.
The best way to target those deep core muscles
To get the best from our ab workouts – and ensure we’re training all the muscles, not just the rectus abdominis and external obliques – we must take the core through both of its functions.
This means that we have to both create movement and resist movement. An example of an exercise that creates movement is a crunch, and an example of an exercise that resists movement is a plank. Both functions are necessary for building stability.
Also Read: The best lower chest workout
An effective and efficient quick core workout will be one that involves both resisting and creating movement, which will help you in other exercises, as well as in everyday life.
Ready to work that core? Here’s our quick core workout that packs quite the punch.
Our kickass core workout
To create the ultimate core workout for beginners, we’ve put together a killer mix of some of the best core exercises. We’ve included both the advanced exercises and the modified versions, so there’s something for everyone, no matter their current core strength.
All these core exercises can be completed without the use of equipment, so they can be done at home, in the gym, or even in a hotel room!
Remember: For the first 8 minutes, rotate through the first block of exercises, changing exercise when each minute ends. Then, finish the workout with the 2-minute plank finisher.
- Lie with your back flat on the floor, with your arms fully extended straight up towards up the ceiling, and your legs bent into a tabletop position (knees bent at a 90-degree angle, stacked over your hips). f
- Slowly extend your left leg out straight and drop your right arm until both are parallel to the floor, just a few inches from the ground. Ensure to keep your core engaged, your glute muscles tensed, and your lower back pressed against the floor.
- Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position, before repeating on the right leg and left arm. This counts as one rep. Continue for one minute.
This exercise is known as an anti-extension core exercise, as your core is required to remain engaged in order to avoid hyperextending the lower back.
- Lie on your back, engage your core, and slowly lift your legs straight above the hips.
- Keep the core engaged, and then slowly lower your heels until they’re close to the ground, without touching the floor. Hold here for one second, before bringing your legs back to starting position.
- Modification option: Single Leg Drops – complete the same movement, but with one leg at a time, keeping the other leg extended and raised above the hips.
Also Read: What is lean bulking?
- Begin on your hands and knees, with your hand below the shoulders and arms extended, and your knees below the hips. This is the starting position.
- Extend your right arm and left leg at the same time, while ensuring to engage your core throughout the movement. Don’t let your lower back round.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and opposite leg.
- Modification option: Single Limb Birddogs: Lift each limb separately.
This is one of the classic core exercises, that targets several muscles.
- Sit on the floor in a seated position with your knees bent in front of you, and lean back slightly with a straight spine, until you feel your core engaging. Keep your chest out. This is your start position.
- Rotate your shoulders, with your heels lifted off the ground. Add a weight or medicine ball if you’re looking for an extra challenge! Add weight for an extra challenge!
- Modification option: Russian Twist with Heels on the Ground: Keep your heels on the ground to make the exercise a little easier.
Just two minutes of straight planking, and it’s all over! Fortunately, you’ll be switching positions every 30-seconds, which will help lessen the burn.
Try and stay in each plank position for the full 30 seconds, with your core tight and your back straight, for the full 30 seconds.
- 30-Seconds Side Plank (right side): Lie on your right side, with your right leg underneath the left, and prop your upper body up on your right elbow. Raise your hips off the floor, so that your body is in a straight line. Modification option: Drop your knees to the floor.
- 30-Seconds Front Plank: Lie on the floor, face down, feet hip-width apart. Push your body up into press-up position, with your hands shoulder-width apart. This is known as the high plank position. Keep your back and legs straight, so they form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Modification option: Keep your knees bent and on the floor so that you’re just raising your body from your knees upwards.
- 30-Seconds Side Plank (left side): Lie on your left side, with your left leg underneath the right, and use your left elbow to prop your upper body up. Lift your hips, so that your body makes a straight line.
- 30-Seconds Front Plank: Repeat the front plank position as described above.
The bottom line
Aim to work out your core 2 or 3 times a week. This will ensure that you notice results, without overtraining. Remember that your core muscles are used to support your body, so they’ll even be getting a workout on leg day.
The key to efficient core training is proper form and making sure your abdominal muscles are engaged throughout each exercise.
A strong core is essential to our stability, so make sure it’s a part of your exercise routine that you never skip.
Maximize your results
When you’re not seeing the results you’d like, it makes you feel disheartened and disengaged. However, the most important thing is to not give up. There are plenty of things you can do and change up in order to notice improvements.
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