Top Core Exercises for Women

Your core muscles are some of the most important muscles in your body. These muscles help stabilize your entire body, allowing you to walk, bend, reach, and maintain good posture. Strong core muscles are critical for every sport, as well as everyday activities. Weak core muscles are also linked to back pain and injuries as well as posture problems. Exercising your core muscles has many more benefits than simply defining your abdominal muscles.

Exercises to Help Strengthen Core Muscles

Core workouts can be as simple or as in-depth as you want. Many core exercises involve nothing more than a floor and your own body weight. You can easily perform core workouts anywhere as long as you have room to stretch out. 

Press-Ups

Press-ups engage the core muscles without requiring the coordination to keep your back and legs straight.

Step 1: Lie on your stomach on the floor with your palms flat on the ground next to your chin.

Step 2: Pull your shoulder blades in towards your spine and lift your head and shoulders away from the ground. Focus on using the muscles of your back and chest to do this. 

Step 3: Hold this position for five seconds, then release back towards the ground. 

Repeat this ten to twenty times a day.

Knee Push-Ups

When press-ups begin to feel easy, you can move on to knee push-ups. 

Step 1: Lie on your stomach on the floor with your palms on the ground even with your shoulders. Bend your knees so your feet are in the air.

Step 2: Push your torso off the ground, leaving your back and thighs straight. Push until your arms are straight.

Step 3: Hold the extended arm position for two seconds, then bend your arms until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Repeat.

You can repeat this ten to twenty times. Focus on keeping your core engaged and your back straight to work these muscles.

Planks

Planks help train your core endurance and stability.

Step 1: Lie on the floor on your stomach with your forearms and palms on the ground.

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Step 2: Lift yourself up onto your elbows and toes, keeping your back and legs in a straight line. Your abdominal and gluteal muscles should feel tense. 

Step 3: Hold for thirty seconds, then relax. 

Over time, you can build up your plank time to two minutes. 

Quadruped

The quadruped helps improve your balance, stabilization, and coordination as well as your core strength.

Step 1: Get on your hands and knees on the floor like you’re about to crawl.

Step 2: Raise one arm and hold it directly in front of you and hold for five seconds. Repeat with the other arm.

Step 3: Raise one leg and hold it straight out behind you, then hold the position for five seconds. Repeat with the other leg. 

You can also make this harder by raising your left leg and right arm at the same time and vice versa. Repeat ten to fifteen times. 

Crunches

Crunches are a form of sit-ups that put less strain on the neck.

Step 1: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Clasp your hands behind your head.

Step 2: Exhale and use your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders off the floor about six inches, or as far as you can.

Step 3: Hold the lift for a second, then relax back to the floor. 

You can repeat this ten to twenty times per set, and try to complete three sets per day. 

Pelvic Lifts

Pelvic lifts help activate muscles opposite of the ones used during a crunch by expanding rather than tightening your torso.

Step 1: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be on the floor spread out slightly from your sides. 

Step 2: Squeeze your abdominal muscles to lift you pelvis and lower back off the floor. Aim to have your thighs and back form one straight line.

Step 3: Hold this position for five seconds, then release back to the ground. 

You can repeat this five times per set, and try three sets per day. 

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Safety Considerations

With any type of exercise, it’s possible to hurt yourself if you’re not using proper form. It’s better to do just a few repetitions of an exercise or hold a position for a few seconds with proper form than it is to do them sloppily. Furthermore, core exercises should never be painful. If you notice any pain during a core exercise, stop immediately. If the pain persists, reach out to your physician. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Harvard Medical School: “Core exercise workout: 12 tips for exercising safely and effectively.”

Harvard Medical School: “The real-world benefits of strengthening your core.”

Harvard Medical School: “The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger.”

Mayo Clinic: “Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles.”

Mayo Clinic: “Core-strength exercises.”

Princeton University: “Lumber/Core Strength and Stability Exercises.”

Vanderbilt University: “Beginner Core Exercises.”

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