Best Core Exercises for Beginners

You’ve heard of working your core, but what exactly does that mean? Your core is essentially the center of your body. It encompasses your abdominals, obliques, pelvis, lower back, and even your hips! So, how important is it to have a strong core? It is imperative! Let’s dig into the benefits of a strong core and the best core exercises for beginners.

Key takeaways:
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    Your core consists of your abdominals, obliques, pelvis, lower back, and hips.
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    Having a strong core is imperative for a healthy life. Your core stabilizes your body’s movement and informs your posture. Almost all movement requires core engagement.
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    Try these 7 beginner friendly exercises to strengthen your core.

What are the benefits of a strong core?

Having a strong core is not just having six-pack abs. While core exercises can help you achieve more defined muscles in your stomach, they do so much more!

With your core being the center of your body, strong core muscles will stabilize your body and your balance. This includes improving your posture and your overall mobility. Having a weak core can lead to more fatigue and less endurance. You’ll be more susceptible to injuries.

Building your core will not only help you as an athlete, but the benefits also spill over into your everyday life. Walking, moving around, and completing housework all rely on your abdominals. Any movement that requires twisting, lifting, carrying, etc., all requires core engagement.

As you age, strengthening your center can even lower your risk of falls.

7 core exercises for beginners

While you can rely on weights, machines, and tools to strengthen your midsection, as a beginner, let’s keep it simple with bodyweight exercises. A bodyweight exercise is a move performed with only your body weight. A benefit of this form of exercise is that it can be done anywhere, at any time.

Exercise 1. Engage your core

woman doing Engage your core exercise

The first step in any core workout is learning how to engage your core. Follow these steps to practice:

  • Lie on the ground, face up, with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • Press your lower back down into the ground.
  • Take an inhale and clench your abdominal muscles as if someone is punching you in your stomach.
  • Hold for three breaths, release, and repeat.

Sounds simple enough, right? Practice until you are comfortable with this exercise before continuing down the list.

Exercise 2. Crunches

Woman doing Crunches

Crunches are an exercise that targets your upper abs. Here's how to do them right:

  • Start on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Stack your hands behind your head, elbows out to the sides.
  • Take an inhale.
  • On your exhale, crunch by lifting your head, neck, and shoulders off of the ground.
  • Lower on an inhale and repeat.

There are many variations to crunches. You can kick them up a notch and lift them all the way up for a full sit-up. If you’re new to sit-ups, slip your feet under an immovable object to prevent them from lifting. Other options include bicycle crunches, reverse crunches (for your lower abs), and V-Ups.

Exercise 3. Bridges

Woman doing Bridges

Let’s focus on your back, specifically your erector spinae and glutes with bridges:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width distance apart. Your arms are by your sides, palms flat on the mat.
  • Tilt your pelvis as you lift your hips. You are aiming for a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Engage your glutes and core for stability.
  • Hold for three breaths and slowly lower back to the starting position.

Once you’ve mastered the bridge, you can explore the many variations such as marching or lifting and lowering one leg at a time.

Exercise 4. Russian twists

woman doing Russian twists

Now let’s target your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your center.

  • Start seated with your knees bent and heels digging into the ground.
  • Point your toes diagonally toward the ceiling.
  • Lean back 45 degrees.
  • Bring your palms together in front of your chest with your elbows pointing to the side.
  • Exhale, twist to the right, sending your right elbow towards the ground by your right hip.
  • Inhale back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the left side.

Want to take your Russian Twist further? Lift your legs so your shins are parallel to the ground, similar to boat pose in yoga.

Exercise 5. Dead bugs

woman doing Dead bugs

Next up, Dead Bugs. These are great for your pelvic stability.

  • Come into a reverse table top with your knees bent and shin parallel to the floor.
  • Reach your arms up, directly over your shoulders, fingertips towards the ceiling.
  • Press your lower back into the ground as you extend your right arm and left leg.
  • Hover above the ground for a beat before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your left arm and right leg.

That is one repetition.

Exercise 6. Flutter kicks

woman doing Flutter kicks

To target your lower abdomen area, meet flutter kicks.

  • In a supine position, slide your hands under your lower back/glute area and straighten your legs.
  • On an exhale, simultaneously lift your head, neck, and shoulders, as well as your legs, off of the ground.
  • Hold.
  • Alternate fluttering your legs in a scissor-like motion.

This exercise is about control, so take your time and focus on your form.

Exercise 7. Plank

woman doing Plank

Let’s finish up with a full-body exercise that will challenge you both physically and mentally.

  • Begin in the basic pushup position with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders, fingers spread wide.
  • Your focus is to press the ground away from you and engage your core for stability.
  • Your feet are typically hip-width distance apart.
  • Keep your hips neutral.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

As you become comfortable with this exercise, add time to challenge yourself.

The best part about planks are the many variations available! You can simultaneously work your upper body by adding a pushup. You can even elevate your heart rate with plank jacks or knee drops.

Putting it all together

Having a strong core is imperative to every aspect of your life, not just exercising. It helps you with body stability, mobility, and posture.

String these seven beginner-friendly exercises together for a circuit, or try them on their own. With practice, they will become easier, and your body will become stronger. Once mastered, you can add more reps or hold your plank for longer.

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