Best Core Exercises: Top 7 Moves To Build Your Abs, According To Experts

Engaging in core exercises is more than a pursuit of sculpted abs. Consider your core muscles as the essential foundation for your body’s support system. From a health standpoint, a strong core acts as a reliable bodyguard, strengthening your spine and keeping back pain at bay. The best core exercises are your secret weapon for maintaining balance and stability throughout the day.

Considering that belly fat is the most stubborn weight to lose, toning your core can help you on your fitness journey to losing a few inches from your waistline. Plus, you don’t have to go to the gym to work out your abdomen. Many core exercises are easy to do right in the comfort of your own home.

Aside from achieving washboard abs, these exercises are good for your health in other ways. In fact, a recent study shows that core exercises are the best for lowering blood pressure. Other exercises that are also helpful in this area include cardio (aerobic exercise), dynamic resistance training like squats, press-ups, and weights, and high-intensity interval training or HIIT.

Incorporating core exercises is an act of self-love that promises a healthier, happier you. If you want a truly hard core life, and you are ready to upgrade your fitness journey, StudyFinds has the best core exercises, recommended by experts. What got you interested in working on your core strength? Leave a comment to let us know!

Woman doing exercises at home perform a hip thurst.
Woman performing a hip thrust at home. (Photo by Crime Art on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Core Exercises, According to Experts

1. Glute bridge/Hip thrust

Number one on the list of best core exercises is the glute bridge, also referred to as a hip thrust. “This pose activates your glutes to lift your hips, which helps train your core while toning your butt and thighs,” says Healthline.

You can transform your body with the glute bridge. “A strong core needs a strong set of glutes, but they are a muscle group which is often overlooked. Strengthening them will do wonders for your physique now and in years to come. Lie flat on the floor with your legs bent. Drive through your heels to push your hips upwards as far as you can go, before pausing and returning to the start position,” writes Men’s Health.

Glutes are easy to engage and impossible to ignore because to a lot of people they represent your fitness. “Keep your back flat on the ground, your hands by your sides, and your knees bent. Put your feet on the floor, keeping them hip-width apart and close enough to your torso so that your hands can reach your heels when you’re in the starting position. Now, push up your hips while keeping your back straight. Hold for 15 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat the process, working your way up to a longer hold as you go,” shares Man of Many.

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2. Plank

Number two on the list of the best core exercises is the plank. “No list of the best core strengthening exercises is complete without planks. ‘This is a simple but very effective core exercise… It targets not just your core muscles completely, but also other groups like your chest, shoulders and arms. While doing planks, it’s important that you remember to breathe throughout. Inhale through your nose, breathing deeply through your diaphragm, and exhale through your mouth…As you’re going through your breathing pattern, your core and abs should remain tight,” says expert Justin Agustin to Nike.

Woman doing a plank exercise to build core strength
A woman doing a plank (Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash)

Looking for the perfect exercise as a beginner? Definitely start with planks. “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,” shares Red bull.

Planks are your go-to exercise for a leaner, meaner physique. “The plank is a full-body exercise that targets your core. It also strengthens your arms, shoulders, back, glutes, and legs,” writes Healthline.

3. Bird dog

This next one is a sort of variation of the plank. “This move (which you may have seen in yoga class) presents a balance challenge and helps you practice keeping your core stable while moving both your arms and legs…It’s important to squeeze the glute of the extended leg while holding this position,” says Pop Sugar.

You can strengthen your back muscles game with the bird dog exercise. “It strengthens the core, hips and back muscles, increases range of motion, encourages stability and a neutral spine, and can help to alleviate lower back pain,” writes Tonal.

The bird dog is an exercise with minimal movement and greater fitness gains. “A great exercise to learn stability and control of the core, and again, learning how to move the arms and legs around a stable center. Get on all fours, and think about making a coffee table, four legs evenly spread and weighted, with a neutral or flat back upon which you could balance a cup of coffee (note: don’t actually try this). From this position, you extend the opposite arm and leg, with minimal movement through the torso. Focus on preventing arching the lower back, shrugging the shoulders and teetering side to side,” shares Red bull.

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4. Dead bug

Although it doesn’t sound pleasant, this is a great way to build strength in your core. “Pairing the dead bug — a move that creates core instability by having you simultaneously reach your opposite-side arm and leg — with a kettlebell makes for one heck of a core-builder. The offset nature of the kettlebell combined with the standard dead bug movement places extra demand on your core, shoulders, and lats. The dead bug pullover will improve your lumbopelvic stability (as in, your ability to stabilize your lower back), and reinforces proper pullover technique. You can also use it to prevent misalignment in your spine and maintain good posture,” shares Barbend.

This is ideal for those looking to build strength and control. “The more stable the core is, the more support it is able to provide the arms and legs during exercise, Alina Kennedy, CSCS, a physical therapist and owner of Sprint Rehab, tells POPSUGAR. To improve your core strength, she recommends performing core stabilization exercises like the dead bug, which force you to hold your trunk (aka your torso) still as your arms and legs move,” says Pop Sugar.

Even beginners can start with the 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 maintaining 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,” writes Redbull.

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5. Flutter kicks

Number five on the list of the best core exercises are flutter kicks. “These are another great exercise for feeling the burn as you should keep your muscles tensed throughout the entire exercise. They’re also particularly good for targeting your lower abs,” writes Mira Fit.

Flutter kicks tune up your lower abs and hip flexors. “If you want to particularly target your lower abs, then you must include this in your daily exercise regimen. Lie on your back with your spine straight. Slightly lift your legs to form a  45-degree angle with your body. Then, move your two legs apart and bring them closer again. While bringing them closer, make sure that the two legs cross one another. Move them apart again and bring them closer such that the other leg is on top this time. Repeat it for over a minute,” says Snap Fitness.

This core exercise helps in strengthening and stabilizing the body. “Here’s a classic ab exercise that brings the pain and results alike, so we’re including it as a bonus. Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms extended at either side. Lift your heels about 6″ off the ground and flutter kick in a quick motion. See how long you can last and work up as you improve,” shares Man of many.

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6. Pallof Press

Another expert-recommended core exercise is the Pallof Press. What is it? “The Pallof Press, named after Physical Therapist Joseph Pallof, has become one of the go-to exercises for strengthening one’s anti-rotation ability. By holding a band in front of you and preventing your body from twisting to one side, you’re actively training your core muscles to brace and stay tight,” says Barbend.

Take out your resistance band to help with this effective workout. “Tie a resistance band to a stable surface such as a chair or a railing. Place your mat a few feet from the surface and pull on the strap to ensure you feel enough resistance. Then, starting in a kneeling position, interlace your fingers around the band and extend your hands forward as you engage your core. Try not to rock when you extend. Return back to starting position and repeat for 30 seconds,” writes Prevention.

This exercise targets your obliques and abs using lower body resistance. “Core exercises should be at the foundation of any training program… it works the deep core stabilizing muscles as well as your obliques. These exercises help you resist bending sideways/falling over and anterior core. These exercises teach you how to resist too much arching of the lower back,” shares Pop Sugar.

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7. Bicycle crunches

Just like the name states, this exercise resembles riding a bicycle. “To simplify the movement, D’Orazio recommends trying a half bicycle crunch, in which one leg remains on the ground while you twist your torso to bring your elbow toward your other leg as you extend it. For increased difficulty, double pulse each time your elbow meets your knee,” says Forbes.

Bicycle crunches shape your core with every twist and turn. “Start in a supine posture with legs extended and place your hands at the nape of your neck with your elbows out wide. Bend your right knee and tap your left elbow to your right knee. Be sure to lift your left shoulder off of the mat as you twist, then switch sides and tap your right elbow to your left knee. Alternate each side for 30 seconds,” shares Prevention.

Work your abs and hips with this modified crunch. “This variation on a regular crunch works your obliques, rectus abdominous, and hips. Start with your back on the floor, with your left knee bent and drawn toward your chest. Keep your right leg straight and slightly lifted off the floor. Place your hands behind your neck or the lower part of your head — be careful not to pull on your neck while you do this move,” writes Healthline.

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How do you usually fit core exercises into your daily routine? Let us know in the comments below!

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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About the Author

Te-Erika Patterson

Te-Erika is the Publisher of The Feisty News for Women, the only full-service news source for women. Te-Erika is also the author of How To Love a Powerful Woman, Leave Your Baby Daddy and Loving Female Led Relationships: Relationships that Empower Women. A graduate of The University of Florida, Te-Erika enjoys a thriving career as a digital content creator that has spanned more than a decade. She enjoys chocolate, wine and solitude, and she is currently living a quiet life in Montgomery, Alabama. Follow her @Te-Erika

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