If you’re a dab hand at training chest, legs, back, biceps and triceps, you’re probably also familiar with the concept of training your core. Unfortunately, core-focused exercises often get left to the very end of the workout, making them susceptible — especially when you’re in a rush — to being skipped entirely and never seen again. However, plenty of exercises that are primarily targeting other groups are just as effective at smoking your core.
“The best core exercise is one that’s loaded really well and pretty heavy, as you’re going to have to work incredibly hard for your limbs to work correctly and for your torso and pelvis to stay in a neutral, stable plane,” says Third Space Elite Trainer and Education Coordinator Tom Hall. Here, Hall walks you through a few of his go-to moves.
1) Start by holding a kettlebell by the horns close to your chest.
2) With your feet shoulder width apart, squat down between your legs until your hamstrings are on your calves. Keep your chest & head up and your back straight.
3) At the bottom of the movement, pause then contract your glutes and drive back up to return to the starting position and repeat.
“If you hold the weight next to your sternum, your abs and extenosrs have to work really hard so you don’t cave and round your back,” says Hall. “Anything that is core is also attached to your spine, neck and pelvis.
1) Lay on your side with your feet stacked on top of each other. Place one elbow directly under the shoulders and your forearm on the floor.
2) Lift into a side plank position whilst maintaining a straight line from head to toe. Keep your core tight.
“The side plank is one of the ‘big three’ in terms of lower-back resolutions, as it’s training you to keep your pelvis, ribcage and T-spine aligned with a little bit of force to your sides,” says Hall. “It’s a staple in every one of my client’s programmes.”
1) Stand tall with weights held in each hand by your sides.
2) Keep your core & shoulders tight and your back straight.
3) Take short, quick steps as you walk a set distance, repeat for designated number of sets and reps.
“Load these as heavy as you can,” says Hall. “Walk with purpose, rather than dawdling, looking to maintain your posture throughout with your eyes looking forward. It’s one of the most functional exercises you can do, as you’re carrying a heavy object from one place to another.”
1) Lie on your back with your arms extended in front of your shoulders.
2) Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle.
3) Contract your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
4) Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly lower your left leg and right arm toward the floor. Keep your abs tight and don’t let your lower back arch.
5) Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position. Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating.
“This will add a little bit of cross-sectional tension,” says Hall. “Just how we normally move as people, so it’s a bit more progressive and you can regress it easily.”
1) Stand parallel to your band, a few feet away from the contact point and hold the free end in both hands, palms together.
2) Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart and your knees are slightly bent.
3) Bring your hands up to the center of your chest and press out, extending your arms fully. Note how your body wants to rotate toward the band. Don’t let it.
4) Return your hands to your chest and repeat for the recommended number of reps on each side
“You are resisting rotation through your obliques, pelvis and your abdominals so you don’t get pulled back in.”