5 of the best core exercises — and not a situp or crunch in the bunch!

August 06, 2018 | by Victor Valentin
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Fitness can be overwhelming, whether it’s starting a new program or trying a different and new exercise.

“Fitness” is an umbrella term encompassing different types of exercise, such as resistance training, strength training, cardio training, balance and stabilization, and even core strengthening.

When it comes to your core, everyone thinks about their abdomen region (abs). Some individuals may want toned (slimmed/defined) abs, whereas others may want stronger abs.

Keep in mind that your core muscles are supposed to brace your spine for stability. When it comes to working out your core, many think about doing situps or crunches. These movements tend to put unnecessary pressure on your lower back and cause you to use momentum to relieve the pain. Using momentum in any exercise will not effectively strengthen the muscles you want to target.

There are many core exercises that do not involve doing a situp or crunch, so let’s discuss a few and the benefit of each:

Bird/Dog

How to:

  1. Start on all fours and tighten your ab muscles.
  2. While looking at the floor, extend your left leg out behind you and reach your right arm forward.
  3. While doing this, keep your hips and shoulders square, don't arch your lower back.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Gradually return to your starting position and extend the opposite arm and leg. Do 5-10 repetitions on each side.

Muscles worked:

  • The gluteus maximus muscle of the buttocks
  • The trapezius muscles of the upper back
  • The deltoids of the shoulder

Flutter Kicks

How to:

  1. Lie flat on your back, legs extended straight out and arms resting next to your hips, palms down.
  2. Carefully lift your legs 4-6 inches off the ground while pressing your lower back into floor.
  3. Alternate raising each leg higher, keeping them straight as you flutter them up and down.
  4. Repeat 15-20 times. You could also do a flutter kick as many times as possible for a specific length of time, such as 20-30 seconds.

Muscles worked:

  • The rectus abdominis
  • The hip flexors
  • The internal and external obliques

Core Hip Lift

How to:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Keep both legs straight and raise them so your heels are pointing toward the ceiling.
  3. Keeping legs straight, tighten your abs and lift your hips off the floor, then gradually lower them back down.

Muscles worked:

  • The rectus abdominis
  • The obliques

Standing Oblique Twist

How to:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Rotate your torso right and left, but keep your hips straight and stable.
  3. One rep is a twist side to side. Keep your abs tight while twisting.

Muscles worked:

  • The internal and external obliques
  • The transverse abdominis

Pallof Press

How to:

  1. Stand in front of a cable column and back a couple of feet away to tighten the cable, which should be even with your midsection.
  2. Keeping your stomach tight and shoulders back, let the cable pull away from your torso until your elbows are almost locked straight.
  3. Pause for 2-3 seconds and pull the cable back.

Muscles worked:

  • The rectus abdominis
  • The transverse abdominis
  • The external obliques

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

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