7 Exercises for Strengthening Your Core

Exercises that target your core are essential for improving stability and balance; additionally, they can lower the risk of back pain and injuries and improve posture. Keep in mind that when it comes to core exercises, proper form and controlled movements matter much more than how many reps you complete.1   

Abdominal Press

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor. Keep your back flat against the floor, not arched. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and raise your right leg so that your knee and hip are at 90-degree angles. Place your right hand against your right knee and push (making sure your arm does not bend) and simultaneously use your abdominal muscles to pull your knee toward you. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side. If you want a greater challenge, do both legs at the same time.2


Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Raise your hips until they form a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat. Take care to keep your back in a neutral position.2,3


Lie on your stomach with a rolled towel or small pillow underneath your hips. Add a rolled towel under your forehead for head support, if needed. Tighten your abdominal muscles and slightly raise your right arm and left leg. Hold for three to five seconds, then lower and repeat on with the other arm and leg. You can also choose to raise one limb at a time.2,3

Modified Plank

Lie on your stomach, then rise so that you are resting on your forearms and knees. Align your head and neck with your back; do not raise or drop your head during the exercise. Make sure your shoulders are directly above your elbows. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your knees and elbows toward each other. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. For a greater challenge, raise your right arm and hold for half of the length of the rep, then switch to your left arm. Similarly, you can raise your right leg, then switch to your left.2

Segmental Rotation

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, allow your knees to fall down and away to the right, as far as is comfortable. You might need to slightly adjust your feet. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position; it might help to imagine you are placing one vertebra on the ground at a time. Repeat on the other side.2

Flutter Kicks

Lie on your back with your legs straight. Raise your legs until they are just above your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles, keeping your back pressed to the floor. Lower your legs as low as they can go without arching your back. In this position, make small up-and-down kicks with your legs.4

Dead Bug

Lie on your back and raise your arms so that your wrists are directly above your shoulders. Raise your legs so they are directly above your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and slowly lower your right leg and left arm at the same time, going only so far as you can without arching your back. Bring them slowly back to the starting position, then repeat on the other side. Make sure you keep the nonworking arm and leg straight, pointing at the ceiling.4

Editor’s Note

Please consult with your physician or a certified exercise physiologist to determine an exercise routine best suited to your individual needs.


  1. Latona V. Beyond sit-ups: working your core. AARP. 1 Apr 2019. https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2019/beyond-sit-ups-working-your-core.html. Accessed 17 Mar 2023.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Core-strength exercises. 20 Sep 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls-20076575?s=1. Accessed 17 Mar 2023.
  3. Bozon J. The best core workouts to do at home – perfect for beginners. Runner’s World. 21 Dec 2022. https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/g28095895/abs-workout-beginners/. Accessed 17 Mar 2023.
  4. Jackson-Gibson A. 15 best ab exercises for women to strengthen your core. Prevention. Updated 31 Jan 2023. https://www.prevention.com/fitness/workouts/g30856105/best-ab-exercises-women/. Accessed 17 Mar 2023.  

Latest Recipes

Sign up for NHR’s FREE E-Newsletter!

          • Receive notifications when a new issue of NHR is available
          • Get free recipes, tips on healthy living, and the latest health news

Subscribe to NHR Print for only $18 a year!

Get unlimited access to content plus receive 6 eye-appealing, information-packed print issues of NHR delivered to your mailbox.