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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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Evan Porter

Fitness Enthusiast, Expert Researcher, and Full-Time Dad. Author and owner of The Trusty Spotter and Dad Fixes Everything.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2021

12 Best At Home Workouts (No Equipment Needed)

12 Best At Home Workouts (No Equipment Needed)

Covid-19 has certainly made getting to the gym more difficult, but if we’re honest, it was difficult before, as well. Between tiring days at work, helping the kids with their homework, and maintaining a social life, where do you find time to squeeze in an hour or two at the gym? Sometimes, the only solution to maintaining your health and fitness rests on the best at home workout.

The good news is that it’s possible to train from home without any equipment and get fantastic results. As long as you’re pushing the body hard enough, you’re going to be fine. The bad news is that you may not know where to start.

There are a plethora of different training regimens out there, and it’s difficult to know which one is best for you, especially if you’re used to live classes or in-person workout programs.

This article will cover the 12 best at-home workouts that you can use for strength, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and mobility. There will be an exact breakdown of all the exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, and instructions required to stay fit, healthy, and happy while on lockdown.

The following sessions are broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced workouts to accommodate any experience level. They are all bodyweight exercises that can be combined into a full body workout to build strength while working out at home.

A thorough warm-up is also included to ensure that you don’t get injured. Please check each workout before you perform it to make sure that the exercises and movements don’t cause you any pain from previous or pre-existing injuries.

If you need help getting into the habit of working out at home, you can try Lifehack’s free 30-Day Resistance Band Workout Challenge.

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Read on to find the 12 best at-home workouts without equipment you can use to upgrade your strength, burn some calories, and improve your flexibility while training at home.

Warm-Up

Complete the warm-ups below for 5-6 minutes before each of the best at home workouts you’ll find below. Complete each exercise for a total of 15 seconds at a slow to moderate pace, and your body will be ready to jump into more intense exercises.

Repeat for 3-4 rounds, as this will help lubricate your joints, slowly elevate your heart rate, and get your body ready for exercise[1].

Dynamic Stretches

Complete the relevant dynamic stretches after your warm-up. For strength workouts, complete the stretches relevant to the session you’re about to partake in (e.g. upper body stretches before an upper-body workout).

For HIIT workouts, complete both the lower body and upper body dynamic stretches. For mobility workouts, you don’t need to do these.

Aim to do 15-20 reps on each side for 1 round.

Upper Body Dynamic Stretches:

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Lower Body Dynamic Stretches:

Strength Workouts

1. Upper-Body Strength Workout (Beginner)

This is one of the best at home workouts if you’re a beginner looking to build upper-body strength. Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets.

For exercises 2-6, use two water bottles to mimic weights. For exercise 7, you can use the couch or a chair to support yourself.

2. Abs Strength Workout (Beginner)

This bodyweight workout is great for building muscle tone in your abs. Complete all exercises with 30 seconds rest between sets, and use a yoga mat if you have one.

3. Leg Strength Workout (Beginner)

If you’re looking to add some strength to your legs, this is the best at home workout for that purpose. Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets. For exercises 3-4, you can use the sofa or a chair to support yourself.

4. Upper-Body Strength Workout (Advanced)

Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets. With advanced workouts, you have to push yourself close to your limit, or to your absolute limit (until you feel like you really can’t do more). This will dictate how many reps to do.

For exercises 6-7, use two heavy water bottles if you don’t have weights available.

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5. Abs Strength Workout (Advanced)

If you need more core support and strength, this is the best at home workout for those who are already comfortable working out. Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets.

With advanced workouts, you have to push yourself close to your limit, or to your absolute limit (until you feel like you really can’t do more). This will dictate how many reps to do.

6. Leg Strength Workout (Advanced)

Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets. With advanced workouts, you have to push yourself close to your limit, or to your absolute limit (until you feel like you really can’t do more). This will dictate how many reps to do.

For exercises 4-6, use heavy water bottles if you don’t have weights available.

7. HIIT Workout (Beginner)

This is the best at home workout for those who are new to HIIT training. Complete all exercises for 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest. Complete 4 rounds.

8. HIIT Workout (Intermediate)

Complete all exercises for 35 seconds of work with 25 seconds of rest. Complete 5-6 rounds.

9. HIIT Workout (Advanced)

If you’ve already been doing HIIT training for a while, this is one of the best at home workouts to keep you going. Complete all exercises for 45 seconds of work with 15 seconds of rest. Complete 7-8 rounds.

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Mobility Workouts

10. Upper Body Mobility Workout

Hold each exercise for 15-20 seconds total, and do 2-3 sets. Slowly increase the range of each stretch until you feel tension, then hold before slowly releasing it.

This workout will help improve flexibility in your upper body.

11. Lower Body Mobility Workout

If you need more flexibility in your hips and legs, this is the best at home workout for you. Hold each exercise for 15-20 seconds total, and do 2-3 sets. Slowly increase the range of each stretch until you feel tension, then hold before slowly releasing it.

This workout will help improve flexibility in your lower body.

12. Spinal Mobility Workout

Complete each exercise for 10 reps total, and do 2-3 sets. This workout will help improve your posture, alleviate lower back pain, and increase your flexibility.

It’s highly recommended if you’re an office worker that spends most of the day sitting.

Final Thoughts

These are the 12 best at home workouts that you can use to level up your body, torch some calories, and enhance your flexibility while at home. Give these a go, and you’ll be well on your way feeling fitter, healthier, and more productive after lockdown is over!

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Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

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