Beginner-Friendly Core Exercises

Guy trying to improve his core strenght in gym, through various workouts

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You know core exercises are good for you — but do you include core exercises for beginners in your fitness routine? In the beginning, I didn’t. I must admit that the gluteus was my focus, as to many other women. But very quickly I realized how much core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program.

Some people may do a situp and pushup now and then. But core exercises are often ignored. Still, it pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk, including your pelvis — in better shape. Read on to find out why.

Key Takeaways

  • Core exercises improve balance and stability by training the muscles in your core to work together, leading to better performance in physical activities.
  • You don’t need any special equipment or a gym membership to do core exercises. They can be done anywhere and at any time.
  • Core exercises can help tone your abs and make it easier to do most physical activities by strengthening your core muscles, which are the muscles around your trunk, including your pelvis.

Core exercises improve your balance and stability

Your core is the central part of your body. It includes your pelvis, lower back, hips, and stomach. The stomach muscles sometimes are called abs. Core exercises train the muscles in your core to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and steadiness, also called stability. Stability is important whether you’re on the playing field or doing regular activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.

Core exercises for beginners save you money

You don’t need any special equipment or a gym membership to do core exercises. These are exercises that use your stomach and back muscles together. For instance, if you’re using free weights and keeping your core steady, you’re actually working out many muscles, including your core.

Core exercises for beginners save you money and time

It can help tone your abs

Doing core exercises can help you get more defined abs. If you want your stomach muscles to be more visible, it’s important to do core exercises. Although you need to do aerobic activities to burn the fat in your stomach, core exercises can make the muscles underneath stronger and more toned.

Core exercises for beginners make everything easier

Having strong core muscles can make it easier to do most physical activities. When you have a strong core, everyday tasks like swinging a golf club, reaching for a glass on a high shelf, or bending down to tie your shoes become easier.

Strong core muscles are also beneficial for athletes, such as runners, because weak core muscles can lead to fatigue, decreased endurance, and injuries. Here is the list of mine I made for you. Even if you think that many of these exercises are not for beginners, I believe you should try. It is very important that your body just feels a new contraction.

16. Plank

A plank involves balancing on toes and forearms as you hold the rest of your body off the ground.

Most people would have done this one, and though it’s simple, it’s still a great core exercise for beginners. Set up by supporting yourself on your forearms and toes and maintaining a level, neutral spine for the duration of the hold, resisting sagging through the hips and lower back.

A progression on this is to make it an ‘active’ plank by creating some extra tension by pulling your elbows down in the direction of your toes, straightening your legs as hard as you can, and squeezing your glutes.

15. Dead bug

The dead bug is a great entry-level core exercise, in the category of what’s called ‘anti-extension’. This exercise strengthens all the muscles that resist unwanted extension or ‘arching’ through the lower back.

The main focus is to flatten your lower back to the floor (using your abdominal muscles) so there’s no gap, and then maintain this position as you extend your opposite arm and leg towards the floor. This is a great exercise for teaching people how to move their limbs around a stable center.

14. Bird dog exercise

This unusually named exercise is perfect for targeting your lower back! A lot of the core activities you’re used to target your abdominal area, this crunch helps not only your lower back but improves balance and stability. Kneel on all fours before raising your right arm out, and at the same time straighten your left leg out. Once you’ve done this hold before lowering to the ground, repeat on the other side.

13. Side plank

A side plank is in the category of an ‘anti-lateral flexion’ exercise, meaning you are resisting a force (gravity) trying to bend (or flex) your trunk sideways. The side plank predominantly works your internal/external obliques and quadratus lumbar, important stabilizers of the spine.

On top of this, it will strengthen the glute medius, an important stabilizer of the hip (and therefore your core) while also providing some nice shoulder stability on the supporting arm.

12. Swiss ball plank

Swiss ball plank - core exercise

The Swiss ball plank is a highly advanced plank variation that strengthens the core, lower back, and entire upper body. The ball works as an unstable surface that increases the difficulty of the move. Forearm plank

11. Crunches

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, with your elbows pointing out to the sides. Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground. Lower yourself back down as you breathe in and repeat. There are lots of different ways to do crunches.

If you want to make them harder, you can lift them all the way up into a full sit-up. If you’re just starting out with sit-ups, you can put your feet under something heavy to keep them from lifting off the ground. You can also try bicycle crunches, reverse crunches (which work your lower abs), and V-Ups.

10. Leg lift

Of all core exercises for beginners, this is one of the best. Why? Because it works very soon after starting: Leg lifts work your abs, hip flexors, and quads, which are all important muscles for increasing your speed and endurance.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with your hands behind your head.
  • Lift your legs straight up towards the ceiling.
  • Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor.
  • Slowly lower your left leg towards the floor, stopping just a few inches above it.
  • Then lift it back up to meet your right leg.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Keep alternating.
  • If it feels better for you, you can lower your head, neck, and shoulders back down.

9. Reverse crunch

The reverse crunch is an exercise that helps strengthen the lower part of your abs.

It’s a great core exercise for beginners and can lead to more advanced moves like leg raises, hanging leg raises, and even toes to the bar. Try to pull your knees up towards your chest, lifting your hips off the floor and making your stomach curl inwards. Aim for 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this exercise:

  • Keep your knees bent and your heels close to your butt
  • Place your hands by your sides for stability
  • As you lower your feet, try to keep them slightly elevated from the floor
  • At the top of the movement, try to lift your hips slightly to get a full range of motion.

8. Hollow body hold

The hollow body hold is an intermediate to advanced-level abdominal exercise that targets the muscles in your core. Because of the force required to press the lower back into the floor, this exercise focuses on maximum tension through the abdominal muscles, making it an excellent move for athletes.

If you are a beginner, you can modify this move by changing your arm or leg position. Intermediate to advanced levels can add the hollow body hold to an abdominal and core circuit or use it as part of a dynamic warm-up.

7. Bear crawl

There are a lot of bear crawl exercise benefits. Bear crawls are an effective core exercise. But they’re also good for working your coordination, boosting shoulder strength and stability, and in some cases even getting a dose of cardio.

6. Glute bridge

Most specifically, glute bridges work the gluteus maximus. The hip extension aspect of this exercise involves the hamstrings, and the core aspect targets the transversus abdominis. When you do this exercise with a resistance band above your knees, the gluteus medius portion of the glutes works extra hard.

Although the exercise targets the butt area, the glute bridge does a great job of activating and strengthening your core stabilizer muscles. The transversus abdominis and multifidus muscles enclose your entire midsection.

5. Mountain climber

The move works the abs, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings — all major muscle groups that help us maintain good posture. Surprisingly, this high-intensity exercise is also low-impact, so it’s good for people who have joint pain but also want to burn calories and raise their heart rate.

4. Bicycle crunch

Bicycle crunches can help tone your midsection and slim your waist. Because bicycle crunches require more leg movement than standard crunches, they’re also great for improving stability, flexibility, and coordination. They are also a great move to strengthen your entire core.

Here’s how to perform a bicycle crunch correctly:

  • Lie on your back, with your knees bent as if you were going to perform a sit-up or oblique crunch. Keep your shoulders raised slightly above the floor and lift your chest.
  • Place your hands behind your head, with your elbows flared. You shouldn’t pull on your neck or your head at any point during the bicycle crunch, so try not to interlock your fingers.
  • Lift one leg off the ground, and extend it out.
  • Lift your other leg and bend your knee, so that it comes towards your chest. Remember to keep your other leg straight out at this point.
  • As you bend your knee towards you, raise your opposite elbow towards your knee in a twisting motion. You don’t need to touch your knee with your elbow.
  • Lower your elbow and knee at the same time, whilst raising your opposite limbs to perform the same movement. If you had just gone right elbow to left knee, it’s time to go left elbow to right knee.
  • Repeat, for as many reps as you want. Aim for 8-12 reps and 3 sets with good form at first.

3. Russian twist

Now let’s work on your obliques, which are the muscles on the sides of your core. Start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and your heels digging into the floor. Point your toes diagonally towards the ceiling. Lean back so that your body is at a 45-degree angle.

Bring your palms together in front of your chest, with your elbows pointing out to the sides. Exhale and twist your body to the right, bringing your right elbow towards the ground next to your right hip. Inhale as you return to the starting position.

Repeat the movement on the left side. If you want to make the Russian Twist more challenging, try lifting your legs so that your shins are parallel to the ground, similar to the boat pose in yoga.

2. Supine Toe taps

Set up: Lying on back, imprint spine, legs on the tabletop, arms resting by sides. Execution: Inhale to start, exhale to hinge right leg down towards the floor (about 45 degrees from the hip), and then return back to the tabletop. Repeat on the left side, alternating for 8-10 reps.

1. Bent Leg lifts

Bent leg lifts are a great exercise for targeting the lower abdominal muscles and strengthening the core. That’s why it is number one on our list of Core exercises for beginners. To perform bent leg lifts, lie on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and your hands by your sides.

Lift your legs towards the ceiling while keeping your lower back pressed into the floor. Lower your legs back down towards the floor without letting them touch the ground, and then lift them back up. Repeat for several reps.


So, there you have it! Core exercises for beginners are super important and can make a big difference in your overall fitness and daily life. By incorporating them into your workout routine, you can improve your balance, and stability, and even get those toned abs you’ve been dreaming of.

Remember, having a strong core can also make everyday activities easier and reduce your risk of injury. So, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned fitness pro, don’t forget to give your core some love. Your body will thank you!

In short, core exercises for beginners should be a staple in your fitness routine. They offer numerous benefits and can be done anywhere, anytime. So, let’s get started and build a stronger, healthier, and more confident you!

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