Core muscles are some of the weakest muscle groups on women, even though it’s a set of muscles we use in most of our daily activities. Years of bad form and improper posture weaken the muscles and cause pain where we don’t need it (and definitely don’t want it). If you continuously experience lower back pain or know you have weak stomach muscles, you should incorporate abdominal and back exercises into your routines at least three to four days a week. Before starting any new exercise routine, especially with preexisting conditions, be sure to consult your physician.
The 19 moves below are exercises that directly work the core muscles or are total body moves that keep the core engaged throughout the whole sequence. Proper form is of the utmost importance. Before adding additional reps or extra challenges with weights or other equipment (stability ball, medicine ball, resistance bands, etc.), be sure you have mastered the simplest form of the move.
Combine these moves with proper nutrition and you’ll be whittling your middle in no time!
1. Forearm Plank with Alternating Hip Drops
- Get into forearm plank position. Keep your abs tight and make sure your body is in a straight line from head to ankles.
- Drop your right hip towards the floor, return to center and then repeat with your left hip.
- Alternate sides for 60 seconds. For an easier modification, drop your knees and perform the move.
2. Side Crunch
- Start by lying on the floor face up with your knees together and bent at a 90-degree angle. Without moving your upper body, lower your knees to the right side so that they’re touching the floor. Place your fingers behind your head.
- Raise your shoulders toward your hips, pause for one second, and then take two seconds to lower your upper body back to the starting position.
- Perform this move for 30 seconds and then switch your legs to the other side for an additional 30 seconds.
3. Side Plank
- Lie on your left side with your right leg stacked on top of your left leg. Prop your upper body up on your left arm, keeping your hand directly below your shoulder. Keep your core tight and contracted.
- Lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.
- That’s one set. Complete one set on your left side for 30 seconds.
- Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat for 30 seconds. For an easier modification, drop to your elbow, pushing off your forearm and/or use your leg closest to the ground as a kickstand for additional support.