5 Workout Tips To Improve Your Core Strength

Young personal trainer corrects fitness woman's plank position during a suspension strap class, people do push-ups in an industrial health center, gym. Healthy lifestyle.

Photo: Aiko de Guzman

Your core strength relies on how well your hips, pelvic floor, diaphragm, glutes, lower back, and abs work. When this network of muscles is healthy, you’re more stable, mobile, and balanced, which are vital for your overall health. You also need good core strength to improve your performance in physical activities and sports. That said, here are five workout tips to help you improve your core strength: 

  • Try Pilates

Adding Pilates to your workout routine has many benefits, especially with how Pilates can help your back. Since it’s a cross between calisthenics, stretching, and yoga, you can use it to relax, strengthen, and stretch your body. It may not focus solely on strength or cardio but can help your posture and flexibility. You can also use Pilates to strengthen your core, especially if you choose exercises that target your legs, back, and abs. 

Doing these exercises regularly improves your chances of strengthening and stabilizing your core and pelvic floor. That’s because you’ll be challenging your flexibility, stability, core strength, and balance when moving your limbs in different directions while holding your torso in place. For instance, the Hundred in Pilates challenges your back and abs. The challenge happens when pressing your hands up and down while taking your legs to a 45-degree angle. 

  • Go Planking

Planking is also an excellent way to improve your core strength. The best thing about planks is that you don’t need different gym equipment; all you’ll need is a mat. You can also add weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, or plates) if you want more of a challenge.

When planking, you engage all your core muscles: multifidus, erector spinae, hip flexors, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and rectus abdominis. It’s a great warmup and one of the most popular core strengthening exercises ever. You can perform this by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Place your forearms on the ground, and align your elbows below the arms and shoulders at shoulder width.
  • Step 2: Keep yourself upright using your legs in a pushup position by firmly squeezing your glutes and planting your toes into the ground. 
  • Step 3: Keep your spine and neck neutral by looking at a spot one foot away from your hands.
  • Step 4: Stay in this position without compromising your breathing or form for as long as possible.

Planking is a simple exercise but very effective in increasing your core strength.

  • Do Crunches

Another core-strengthening exercise you can include in your routine is the classic crunch. This exercise lets you work on your abdominal muscles by lifting your upper body. However, you proceed cautiously when you have occasional low back pain. In some cases, you might have to talk with your physician before performing crunchies to be on the safe side. Once you’re fit to do crunches, follow these steps to maximize its benefits:

  • Step 1: Lie on your back. Plant your feet on the floor at hip width by bending your knees. Line up your spine and head. Then, cross your arms over your chest.
  • Step 2: Relax your shoulders and neck and tighten your core. Keep your feet, pelvis, and lower back on the floor while lifting your upper back.
  • Step 3: Hold your position and then slowly lower your upper back.

Repeat for 8–12 repetitions for one set. Try doing crunches with a weighted vest or a dumbbell to make it more challenging.

People of different ages pressing core and clutching mini Pilates balls between legs during Pilates training together – Photo: Aiko de Guzman
  • Glute Bridge 

When strengthening your core, working on your transverse abdominis, erector spinae, hamstrings, and glutes is a must. You can hit all these muscle groups with one exercise: the glute bridge.

The glute bridge is safe for beginners. But for more experienced physical fitness enthusiasts, you can increase the difficulty by extending one of your legs at the top of the bridge for each set. Do 20 reps for up to three sets.

To make this exercise work, you must maintain form at the top. Squeeze your glutes at the top while engaging your core muscles. Most importantly, avoid performing it too quickly as it may not serve its purpose. 

  • Bodyweight Training

Although weight training helps with core strength, you can train only with your body weight. This exercise will help your ab muscles grow while teaching you how to brace and increasing your kinesthetic awareness. The best thing about this is that you can incorporate it into your at-home core workouts. 

Here are great bodyweight exercises you can perform in three to four circuits:

  • Dead Bug: Tap the ground with your heel after extending your legs fully. Try 4 sets of 20 reps per side. 
  • Hollow Hold: Maintain core tension for as long as possible, which means you can do this in as many repetitions as possible.
  • Hanging Leg Raise: If you don’t have a pull bar, you can switch to a lying leg raise. Complete 4 sets of 10–15 reps.

Conclusion

Core strengthening is one of the elements of a well-rounded fitness routine. You can improve your core strength with Pilates, planking, crunches, glute bridges, and bodyweight training. These exercises not only focus on one area of your core, but they engage various muscle groups. Engaging these groups may help you achieve stability, mobility, and strength—all essential to being physically fit.

 

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