Advertising

15 Core Strength Workout Exercises for Beginners

Advertising
15 Core Strength Workout Exercises for Beginners

When many people think of a core strength workout, it immediately brings to mind cheesy ab routines that have run on TV infomercials for years.

I don’t blame you if you’re one of those people!

I, too, used to think the term core strength merely encompassed the abdominal muscles.

However, after several years of training (mostly in the sport of powerlifting) and much research, the picture has become clearer.

What is Core Strength?

A strong core is supported by more than just muscles, despite what many may think. In fact, the strength of one’s core is closely related to the quality and depth of one’s breathing.

Much of our society is simply not breathing properly: not taking deep belly breaths with a focus on filling the base/full 360-degree core.

They should be expanding the lower rib cage before air occupies the upper chest and lungs.

Many people do not breathe deeply, instead spending most of their days just touching the surface of their breathing capacity by entirely relying on upper chest breathing.

How to Breathe

So, before attempting any of the exercises below, first work with your breath.

Take a somewhat thick string (such as a shoe string), and wrap it around your waist so it is crossing over your navel (much like a belt worn high).

Ensure that you can fit two fingers between the string and your navel – thus not tying it tightly, and giving yourself room to breath into the belly without restriction.

The objective here is to wear the string throughout the day, and use it as a physical queue to focus your efforts on deep belly breathing.

Advertising

When you breath deep into your belly correctly, you will feel the string becoming tighter around your entire core.

After trying this approach for a couple days, dive into the below exercises without the string but while still maintaining focus on your breathing.

Core Strength for Health

Core strength is a vital aspect of overall health, and we’re going to examine several exercises that not only build core strength effectively, but also create core stability – which is arguably even more important!

15 Essential Core Strength Exercises

1. Kettlebell or Dumbbell Suitcase Carry (“Farmers Walks”)

You’ll notice many of these exercises have conveniently clear names, and this exercise is no exception. It functions much like it sounds.

Farmers Walks essentially allow you to pick up a moderately heavy weight and hold it on each side (left first, then right) while walking steady (focusing on core breathing) for 10-15 paces.

You should not be walking lopsided; you should be maintaining a straight, neutral spine, and allowing your core to support that stability.

Learn more kettlebell moves: The Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts You Might Not Know (+8 Exercises to Try!)

2. Lunges

These can be performed with or without weight, and with or without side bends. If performing with weights, this is a great core strength exercise to perform directly after Farmers Walks.

Side bending is done without weight and works by reaching your arm over and creating a half moon crescent shape during the lunge movement – the arm you arch should be on the same side as the leg with its knee on the ground.

3. Glute/Hip-Bridge

This is a very simple movement of laying down on the ground with your legs shoulder-width apart, then raising your butt off the ground to create an arch or “bridge.”

You can perform this movement with repetitions, which then become “Hip Thrusts,” or you can hold the top position for 3 seconds before returning down.

You can keep your arms laying flat on the ground for a more complex/difficult hold or use them to support your lower back for an easier movement.

Advertising

4. Bird-Dog Exercise

Lean forward to place your hands on the ground, positioning them directly under your shoulders (shoulder-width apart) with your fingers facing forward.

Reposition your hands and knees as necessary so that your knees are directly under your hips and your hands are directly under your shoulders.

Now, extend your right arm straight forward, meanwhile extending your left leg straight back. Repeat on the opposite side – with the left arm extended straight forward, and the right leg extended straight back.

5. Front Plank

Get into a push-up position with arms shoulder-width apart and bring your elbows to the ground. That’s it! Hold the static position without your knees touching the ground for as long as you can and repeat.

Learn more about the benefits of planking: 7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Planks Every Day

6. Side Plank

This core strength workout is similar to a front plank, but you are turning to each side and resting entirely on one elbow or the other.

Perform with the other arm extended straight into the air, or kept straight/parallel, running down the side of your body.

7. Goblet Squat

This is a fun one! You can perform this with a kettlebell (ideally), dumbbell, or even a heavy book!

Basically, you are standing with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, and your feet pointed out to a 45-degree angle. Descend into a deep squat and use the weight you’re holding to counter-balance.

Stay in the bottom position for 7 or more deep breaths before ascending.

8. Hanging Leg Raises

This exercise is excellent not just for core strength and stability, but also for overall shoulder health.

While hanging, be sure to maintain a straight back and shoulder line – remain stable and in control throughout the entire movement.

Advertising

Don’t swing your legs up and down, rather raise them and lower them in a slow and controlled manner.

9. Barbell Overhead Press

You might not think overhead pressing would correlate to core strength, but it does! You cannot perform a straight line overhead press without first stabilizing and bracing your entire core.

I suggest you film yourself from the side when performing the movement, and watch to ensure your bar-path remains in a straight line over your head.

10. Dumbbell Overhead Press

This move is much like the barbell overhead press; however, it requires more core and shoulder stability.

Bonus Exercises for Advanced Lifters

If you’ve been exercising or lifting weights for years, try the below exercises if you haven’t already done so.

If you’re already utilizing these core strengthening movements, simply consider incorporating them even more into your routine since they’re just that effective!

11. Dragonfly or Dragon Flag (by Bruce Lee)

Popularized by famous martial artist Bruce Lee, this movement requires you to have a decline bench or similar, which will support your entire weight.

Lay flat on your back on the bench, with your feet closer to the ground (on the decline).

Now, grab the bench behind your neck, then raise your legs from the lower position while stabilizing your upper body with your arms and core.

12. Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

This exercise is a complicated movement whereby you start from a laying-down position on the floor, and in 6 to 10 steps, raise the kettlebell overhead in a straight line.

Then, maintain that same straight line (holding the kettlebell up overhead) while you rise from the floor.

13. High Bar or Low Bar Back Squat

The high bar squat is the most optimal position if focusing on core stability, and is preferred by Olympic lifters for that reason.

Advertising

However, the low bar squat will typically still build core strength but allow for a more maximal load, and is thus preferred by powerlifters.

14. Deadlift (Sumo or Conventional)

Personally, this is my favorite exercise, and a great way to build core strength along with testing one’s central nervous system capacity.

Without getting into a detailed breakdown, I suggest having a peek at my video below, and checking out my YouTube channel where I cover how to efficiently deadlift, Squat, and more!

Why try deadlifts? Read 10 Benefits of Deadlifts You Probably Never Knew

15. Front Squat

Front squats are arguably the best way to build overall core strength – hitting the anterior chain and posterior muscle chain. They are performed in one of three ways.

First, by crossing the arms over and holding the barbell above the chest (resting on the clavicle), or, second, by not crossing the arms and keeping hands shoulder width apart while holding the bar.

The third approach is the same as the second, but if wrist mobility is an issue, a pair of straps can be utilized to hold the bar in position with each hand/wrist.

Conclusion

Core strength shouldn’t be isolated by any means; it should be considered an integral part of the whole ecosystem that is human physiology.

Core strength is associated with digestion and elimination, and can even be attributed to psychological wellness for that reason. Our gut is considered by many (me included) to be a second brain, and if our digestion is in check, so too will be our minds.

Try your hand at these core strength workouts to help your body reach its full potential, and to stay healthy – both physically and mentally.

More Exercise Tips

Featured photo credit: Daniel Apodaca via unsplash.com

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

7 Reasons Why Your Body Feels Heavy And Tired Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery How to Break a Fast When You’re Intermittent Fasting 11 Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha (Backed By Science) Intermittent Fasting Diet for Beginners (The Complete Guide)

Trending in Exercise & Training

1 7 Practical Stretching Tips to Enhance Your Next Workout 2 Daily 15-Minute Stretching Routine to Stay Fit and Flexible 3 7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out 4 10 Best HIIT Workout Exercises to Burn Calories Fast 5 Circuit Training Workouts Routine For Beginners (The Complete Guide)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 5, 2022

7 Practical Stretching Tips to Enhance Your Next Workout

Advertising
7 Practical Stretching Tips to Enhance Your Next Workout

Stretching is one of the most essential aspects of a healthy fitness routine. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Instead of thinking of this activity as a separate entity, consider stretching as a continuation of your exercise routine. By making stretching tips a part of your workout, you won’t neglect the attention your muscles and joints require to perform effectively.

Whether using stretching as a way to wake up, get your mind in the game, or recover from strenuous activity, your body will reap its short-term and long-term benefits. In the moment, stretching is a great way to warm up the body and prevent yourself from overextension and injury. In the long run, stretching daily can help loosen your tendons and muscles, and ultimately help you maintain a full range of motion later in life.

Taking these ideas into consideration, follow these 7 simple tips for stretching to add stretches back into your workout vocabulary.

1. Stretch and Stretch Often

Ultimately, your body can benefit from stretching daily. Many of us experience a somewhat stationary lifestyle at work, so we naturally need to warm up our bodies after remaining immobile for long periods of time.

Advertising

With only ten minutes of stretching, you can increase your strength, balance and flexibility. From working out to waking up in the morning, slow, easy movements can warm up the body. Just remember to be gentle; any jarring movements can cause injury and muscle tear.

For the best results, hold each stretch for at least sixty seconds[1].

2. Warm up Before a Workout

Similar to establishing a daily stretching routine, warming up the body pre-workout is vital for having a successful session and one of the most important stretching tips. Just grabbing your foot to stretch your calf for a couple seconds could actually harm your body, so make sure you begin slowly and take your time.

Attempting any exercise with “cold muscles” or without “waking up the body” will also hurt your body and cause muscle pulls and tendon tears. Try taking a short walk or elongating your stretches for optimal results.

Advertising

3. Gauge Your Tension

Stretching should never be painful. Monitor how your muscles feel as you stretch. Naturally, you should feel some mild tension, but don’t push yourself past the edge of discomfort.

If you’re starting to experience sharp pain or sensations that gradually get more severe, you are doing something wrong. Try to focus on one area at a time so you are only pushing yourself so far. When you begin to feel comfortable stretching, deepen your stretch, but don’t over-exert yourself.

4. Avoid Bouncing

Stretching tips don’t often mention this, but bouncing can be one of the most detrimental things you can do to your body while stretching. When your body constantly shifts, your muscles can tighten, and you can increase the risk of pulling or tearing a tendon. Find your balance or focal point, and remain steady.

When in doubt, try using a mirror to watch yourself stretch to improve your form. Don’t be afraid to consult your doctor or trainer for someone to monitor your posture and stance[2].

Advertising

5. Just Breathe

One of the main benefits of stretching is its ability to help the mind and body relax. Therefore, try to breathe normally and make sure you don’t hold your breath[3].

As you deepen your stretch, make sure to inhale and exhale slowly. Any abrupt, fast breathing or lack of breathing can cause tension in your body and increase your risk of injury. Make sure you are comfortable so that your mind focuses on the task at hand.

6. Vary Your Routine

While stretching, don’t forget to work on opposing muscles and incorporate as many muscle groups as possible in your routine for a holistic workout. Also, one of the most important stretching tips I can offer is to change your routine often so you don’t get bored.

Often, boredom can cause carelessness and a loss of focus, which, in turn, can cause injuries. Look to Yoga workouts[4] or Pilates classes, as they are great resources for finding new stretches.

Advertising

7. Always Remember to Cool Down

Stretching is also an excellent form of recovery to avoid muscle soreness. Don’t overlook this part of a workout, as it releases the tension in your body and increases blood flow to muscles that are warm and worked. Cooling down can prevent injury and decrease your heart rate after an intense workout. Do what you can to help your body quickly recover from your daily exercise routine.

Final Thoughts

Stretching tips are vital when participating in an active lifestyle. However, your body needs fuel to assist you through these daily routines. Therefore, don’t forget to eat the right foods and stay hydrated. Not only do you replenish your body with fluids and nutrients lost, but you can keep your muscles strong and ready for the next routine.

If you struggle with stress and anxiety, stretching can help you move into a calmer headspace and find both mental and physical balance. Furthermore, stretching can help you and your body focus on something else, which will help you move past the stress.

As you plan your next workout, incorporate time for pre and post-workout stretches to see how it improves your exercise experience.

Advertising

More Stretching Tips

Featured photo credit: Oksana Taran via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: The ideal stretching routine
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: Six tips for safe stretches
[3] Penn State: Balance, Breathing and Flexibility
[4] Health: Best Yoga Poses for Your Trouble Spots

Read Next