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15 Best Core Strengthening Exercises You Can Do At Home

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ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
15 Best Core Strengthening Exercises You Can Do At Home Hyderabd040-395603080 November 11, 2019

The core muscles help you stand straight or sit without falling (1). These muscles are present in your belly region, back, pelvis, and glutes (yes, the core does not only mean abs) (2). But with age and muscle disuse, the core muscles may become weak, leading to bad posture and injuries (3), (4). That’s why it is important to practice 20 minutes of core strengthening exercises every alternate day (5), (6), (7), (8), (9).

This article lists 15 core strengthening exercises. Read on to know how to do these at home with proper technique.

Before we begin, here’s a quick look at the core muscles that we will be targeting through these core strengthening exercises.

What Is The Core? What Muscles Is The Core Made Of?

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado School of Medicine defines the core as “the group of trunk muscles that surround the spine and abdominal viscera. Abdominal, gluteal, hip girdle, paraspinal, and other muscles work in concert to provide spinal stability.” (10)

This means the core includes your belly region, upper back, lower back, hips, sides of the waist, and chest.

Here’s the list of all the core muscles:

  1. Rectus Abdominis – These are the muscles that correspond to the popularly known ‘six-pack’, seen as those squarish parts in the middle. They are located along the front of the abdomen.
  1. External Abdominal Obliques – These are the muscles seen pointing diagonally downwards from either side. They are located on the sides and front of the abdomen.
  1. Internal Abdominal Obliques – These muscles are under the external abdominal obliques but point in the opposite direction.
  1. Transverse Abdominis – These are the deepest muscles, behind the oblique muscles and around the spine.
  1. Glutes – These are the hip muscles that help in various movements like walking, sitting, and bending.
  1. Pelvic Floor – These are the muscles that you can feel when you try holding your urine. You will know your pelvic floor muscles are weak if you pass a little urine unintentionally when you cough, sneeze, or workout.
  1. Scapular Muscles – These muscles include the ones present on your upper back and at the back of your shoulders – the trapezius, rhomboid, teres minor and major, pectoralis minor, etc.

Now, you know that to strengthen the core, you must target all the muscles mentioned above. Let’s get started with the exercises.

Top 15 Core Strengthening Exercises You Can Do At Home

Before any exercise session, you must warm-up. Here’s a 10-minute warm-up session you may follow.

Warm-Up (10 minutes)

  • Neck tilts – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Head up and down – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck rotations (do it slowly) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Elbow rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 1 min
  • Side lunges – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Calf raises – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – 1 set of 10 reps

Note: If you have lower back pain, start with the basic core exercise first. Do core activation, core with knee in and out, core with hip knee flexion, and then progress to below exercises that can help you get strong core.

Core Exercises – 20 minutes

1. Flutter Kicks

Target – Glutes, hip flexors, lower abs, quads, and hamstrings.

How To Do Flutter Kicks
  1. Lie down on your back on a mat. Keep your hands by your side, palms flat on the mat, back flat against the mat, and look up at the ceiling.
  2. Engage your core, lift both your legs off the ground and kick them up and down alternately. Do not let your feet touch the ground before you complete one set.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

2. Seated Knee Tuck

Target – Upper, middle, and lower abs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, biceps, and triceps.

How To Do Seated KneeTucks
  1. Sit on the mat with your knees flexed and feet flat on the mat. Place your hands behind you, and keep your palms flat on the mat.
  2. Engage your core, bend your elbows, lean back a bit, and lift your legs in the same flexed knee pose.
  3. Bring your knees close to your chest, and your upper body close to your knees.
  4. Lean back and push your legs away. Straighten your legs as you do it.
  5. Flex your knees and bring them close to your chest, and your upper body close to the knees.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

3. Crunches

Target – Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and pelvis.

How To Do Crunches
  1. Sit on the mat with your knees flexed and feet flat on the mat. Keep your feet together.
  2. Roll back until the back of your shoulders touches the mat. Do not rest your head on the mat.
  3. Engage your core and place your fingertips behind the head to support it. Keep your elbows out, arms wide open, and chest out. Do not tuck your chin. This is the starting position.
  4. Exhale and lift your head (do not push it) so that only the upper back is off the ground. Look at the top of your knees.
  5. Inhale and slowly go back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

4. Bicycle Crunch

Target – Upper, mid, and lower abs, obliques, quads, and hamstrings.

How To Do Bicycle Crunches
  1. Lie on the floor, place your hands behind your head, and open your arms. Raise your head and your feet off the floor, flex your knees, and bring them close to your belly.
  2. Push the right leg back and extend it. Simultaneously, crunch up and try to touch your left knee with your right elbow.
  3. Fold your right knee. As you do so, push your left leg back and extend it fully. Crunch up and try to touch your right knee with your left elbow.
  4. This completes one rep.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

6. Vertical Leg Crunch

Target – Upper, mid, and lower abs, obliques, quads, hamstrings, rhomboids, lats, and deltoids.

How To Do Vertical Leg Crunches
  1. Lie flat on the floor and keep your arms by your side.
  2. Lift both your legs at 90 degrees from the floor.
  3. Lift your hands off the floor and try to touch your toes with your fingertips.
  4. Inhale and go back down.
  5. Exhale and try to touch your toes with your fingertips.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

7. Leg Raises

Target – Glutes, lower abs, upper abs, hamstrings, and quads.

How To Do Leg Raises
  1. Lie down on the mat. Place your thumbs under your hips, engage your core, and raise your leg vertically. This is the starting position.
  2. Inhale and lower your legs slowly.
  3. Just before your heels touch the floor, raise them slowly. Exhale as you do so.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 12 reps

8. Plank

Target – Abs, glutes, quads, shoulders, hamstrings, and biceps.

How To Do A Plank
  1. Get on all fours from a kneeling position.
  2. Flex your elbows and place your forearm on the mat. Extend your legs behind and engage your core. Make sure your neck and spine are in a straight line. Do not bend or pike up.
  3. Keep your elbows right below your shoulders. Look down at the floor. Avoid any strain on your head and neck. Keep breathing.
  4. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.

Sets And Reps – 2 planks of 30-60 seconds hold

9. Plank Jacks

Target – Abs, glutes, adductors, abductors, calves, and hamstrings.

How To Do Plank Jacks
  1. Assume the push-up position. Keep your core engaged and legs hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping your upper body and hands steady, move your legs apart (wider than shoulder-width) and then bring them back to the starting position. Here, you will be doing the leg movement of jumping jacks in the plank position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 20 reps

10. Sprinter Plank

Target – Abs, glutes, adductors, abductors, calves, and hamstrings.

How To Do Sprinter Plank
  1. Assume a push-up position. Make sure your neck and back are in the same line, elbows right below your shoulders, and core engaged.
  2. Lift your right foot off the floor, bend your right knee, and bring it close to your belly.
  3. Place the right foot on the floor, hop, and lift your left foot off the floor.
  4. Bend your left knee and bring it close to your belly.
  5. Place your left foot on the floor, hop, and lift your right foot off the floor.
  6. Do this at a higher speed, almost like running or sprinting.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 20 reps

11. Cat And Cow

After doing so many exercises in the plank pose, your back needs to be relaxed. The Cat and Cow Pose is the perfect exercise for that.

Target – Relaxing the back muscles.

How To Do Cat And Cow Pose
  1. Get on all fours. Roll your shoulders back, keep your elbows right below your shoulders. Keep your back straight. Do not pike up or bend down your spine.
  2. Bend your spine and look up. Hold this pose for 3 seconds.
  3. Slowly, lower your head, look down, and pike up your spine. Hold this pose for 3 seconds.

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 10 reps

12. Jack Knife Crunch

Target – Lower abs, upper abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lower back.

How To Do Jack Knife Crunch
  1. Lie down on a mat. Extend your hands overhead. Feel the stretch. This is the starting position.
  2. Lift your legs and hands off the floor, crunch, and touch your knees with your hands.
  3. Slowly, lie down again and get back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 8 reps

13. Push-up

Target – Abs, chest, shoulders, and biceps.

How To Do A Push-Up
  1. Get down on the floor and push your legs backward until they are fully extended and resting on your toes.
  2. Keep your hands firmly planted on the floor on either side of you, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your arms and legs should be straight. Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels.
  3. Inhale, pulling in your navel, and bend your elbows out to 90 degrees (and no more) while lowering yourself to the floor. Keep your body straight throughout. Keep the pressure on the outside of your palms.
  4. Exhale and raise yourself to the starting position. Do more repetitions at a slow and steady pace, without compromising on the form.
  5. If this is too hard, you can do modified versions of this exercise. One is by resting your palms on a bench or table instead of the floor. Another is by resting on your knees instead of your toes.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 8 reps

14. Russian Twist

Target – Internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, traps, and spinal erectors.

How To Do The Russian Twist
  1. Sit on the mat with your knees flexed and feet flat on the mat. Hold the medicine ball or dumbbell with both your hands and lean back a little.
  2. Engage your core, lift your legs in the same flexed knee pose, and cross them.
  3. Start twisting from side to side. Keep your lower body and neck still.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

15. Inchworm

Target – Abs, lower back, deltoids, glutes, and biceps.

How To Do Inchworm
  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders rolled back, chin up, and core engaged.
  2. Bend down and touch the floor close to your feet with your fingertips. Your hips should point to the ceiling. Do not bend your knees.
  3. Start walking with your hands and move forward.
  4. Stop when you come to a plank pose.
  5. Hold this pose for a second and then walk back to the standing position.

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 3 reps

These are the 15 core strengthening exercises that you can do at home at your convenience. Make sure you stretch and cool down after finishing your workout session.

Doing these exercises every other day can help you get the following benefits.

Benefits Of Core Strengthening Exercises

  1. Help you get a flat tummy.
  2. Improve core muscle power.
  3. Improve muscle coordination.
  4. Prevent injury.
  5. Help stabilize the torso.
  6. Improve respiratory function.
  7. Improve posture.
  8. Stabilize the spine, ribs, and pelvis.

Conclusion

Core exercises are great for improving posture, balance, strength, stamina, and self-confidence.

If you are recovering from a stroke or surgery, make sure you have your doctor’s permission to start exercising. If you are doing it for a flat belly, you must also eat healthy and do other cardio workouts and strength training for at least two days a week.

Hope this post was helpful. If you have questions, post them below, and we will get back to you.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is walking good for core strength?

Walking is a good cardio exercise and will help burn calories. However, it is not the ideal workout for strengthening the core.

How can I strengthen my core while sitting?

You cannot strengthen your core by sitting. You have to activate your core muscles by doing exercises that target the core muscles.

Does core strengthening help back pain?

Yes, correct and supervised core exercises can help reduce back pain. Make sure you talk to your doctor and make your trainer aware of your back pain.

What is the appropriate repetition tempo for core-strength exercises?

As a beginner, try 2 sets of 8 reps. Increase it to 3 sets of 8 reps. Later, 3 sets of 12 reps. The sets and reps also depend on the type of exercise you do.

10 sources

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.