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8 Core Muscle-Strengthening Exercises That Will Help You Build A Strong Core

A man and a woman engaging in strong core exercises at a gym.
Read Time: 5 minutes

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A strong core is essential for daily activities and working out.

Core strength is crucial for powerlifting, injury prevention, and lifting heavier weights. Compound lifts, which train multiple joints, elicit a significant muscle growth response. Deadlifts and heavy squats both push your body and core to the edge, but sometimes our core can be a weak link.

A weak core limits your ability to set new personal records and can lead to injury. Those who squat and deadlift include accessory work targeting their posterior chain–so why would you treat your core differently?

There is a catch.

Strong lifters need more stimulus than crunches, sit-ups, and planks provide. They are too easy in some cases. You must challenge your core with high-tension, strenuous exercises to improve your lifts.

Here are eight exercises you can implement into your current routine.

8 Exercises for a Stronger Core

1.) Mountain Climbers

This exercise is beneficial for developing core and upper body strength and can provide a cardiovascular workout.

Get into a push-up position with your hands placed directly under your shoulders. Pull one knee up towards your midsection as if trying to climb a mountain. Return your leg and repeat the movement with the other leg.

To improve your running technique, focus on maintaining proper form with each leg. Gradually increase your speed and distance to avoid injury and improve your overall performance.

2.) Ab Roll Outs

An ab wheel or barbell can be used with or without weight.

Place the ab roller on the ground in front of you, positioning yourself so that you are on your hands and knees as if you were about to do a push-up on your knees. Slowly roll the ab roller straight forward into a straight position.

After a slight pause, pull the ab wheel or barbell back to the starting position. Perform this move slowly and controlled manner. Gradually allow the ab wheel or barbell to extend further as you get stronger.

This exercise may be challenging but do not become discouraged if it feels impossible.

3.) Weighted Hanging Leg Raise

Performing hanging leg raises correctly can be a great core workout for lifters.

Performing a leg raise with your feet in front of you will help improve your explosiveness and timing. Doing a 4/2/4 timing tempo will allow you to get the most benefit from the exercise.

If you find this exercise easy, it is time to increase the difficulty using a dumbbell or medicine ball. Place the weight between your feet and then complete the exercise.

Try something extra: split your legs out like a V during your two-second hold and bring them back together before your descent.

4.) Hanging Leg Raise with a Twist

If you follow the above tips, try lifting one knee to touch the opposite pec instead of sticking your feet out.

This exercise can be challenging to perfect. If you feel too much flexion in your back, slow down and improve your form.

5.) Hanging Leg Raise Flutter Kick

Have you ever heard of a bicycle kick? This exercise is where you lie on the ground and kick your feet in front of you while fluttering them.

Try this in the hanging leg raise station and improve your time instead of increasing the number of repetitions.

6.) Bodysaw 

Bodysaws are an excellent exercise that uses a small range of motion to create a challenging workout.

You will need to either use a furniture mover or the Valslide to complete this task, but it will be worth the effort. Get into a plank position on your elbows, with your feet on something that will slide. Next, slide your feet backward by pushing your elbows up.

Keeping your core engaged will help you to maintain balance as you squeeze your lats and pull yourself back to the starting position.

This exercise may be challenging for some people.

7.) Wood Chops

This exercise will target your oblique muscles and increase your overall body power.

Attach the cable to the handle at the highest pulley position. Stand with your side to the handle and extend your arm to align with the cable. First, pull the handle down with both hands to properly clean the rowing machine, keeping your arms fully extended.

Repeat the movement on one side until failure, and then repeat on the opposite side.

8.) Bird-Dog

If you are unfamiliar with this exercise, you will likely enjoy it. If you are familiar, you may wonder why it is a core workout. Bird-Dog is an excellent tool for personal trainers and physical therapists as they teach core stability by simultaneously engaging your back and ab muscles.

Position your hands and knees beneath your shoulders and hips, respectively.

Tighten your core and reach your right arm forward and your left leg back. This will test your coordination and push you to maintain tightness throughout the movement. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the other side.

Last Words

If you want to see results, you need to push your body and perform exercises with proper form. Exercises that are too easy or too difficult will not give you the desired results.

Editor’s note: The content on Base Strength is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns. Please also see our disclaimers.

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