Getting a strong core won’t happen with hundreds of crunches. In fact, you should stop doing crunches because they aren’t good for your back. If you want a strong core, you’ve got to focus on core stability and being able to activate all your core muscles properly throughout your day-to-day and during exercise. Core stability and strengthening exercises typically aren’t the moves that will leave you shaking and dripping sweat, but they’re essential to keep you moving at your best.
To achieve stability and core strength, you should do a combination of anterior, posterior, lateral, and rotational core stability exercises. Anterior exercises work your deep core muscles like the transversus abdominis, which helps stabilize your lumbar spine (the lower back) and pelvis. An example of this would be a plank. These moves are necessary because they teach you how to avoid excessive arching of your lumbar spine.
Posterior core stability does the opposite of anterior exercises and teaches you how to avoid excessive rounding of the lumbar spine. Dead lifts and bird dog are two great ways to strengthen your posterior core. Lateral exercises like a side plank keep you from having too much lateral flexion and tipping over. The last movements you should include in your workouts are rotary exercises like chops. These rotational exercises help you resist having too much rotation of the lumbar spine.
Focusing on these four core groups will ensure that you’re working all of your core, improve your core strength, and help you move more efficiently. Click through the slideshow above for a list of core exercises I recommend you add to your workouts for a strong core. You don’t need to do all of these moves in a single workout. Instead, try to include one exercise from each category into your workouts and you’ll be good to go!
Stir the Pot
This is an anterior core stability exercise that will help prevent excessive arching of the lumbar spine.
Begin in an elbow plank with your forearms resting on the top of a ball.
Keeping your core strong and your body still, use your arms to roll the ball in a small clockwise circle. This completes one rep.
This is a lateral core stability exercise that helps you resist lateral flexion. This move will keep you from tipping over.
Lower the carriage of a cable machine so that it’s about chest height, and attach a D-handle to the pulley. Adjust the weight so that it’s at 10 pounds. If this is too heavy or too light, feel free to change the weight.