Training

The Best 15 Core Exercises From Home or Gym

It’s not called your core for no reason. Your abdominal muscles are fundamental in stabilising your entire body and essential for not only improving training and performance but also aiding in everyday activities such as bending, reaching and twisting. 

Most people tend to focus solely on the abs, but your core includes the traverse abdominis (located on each side of the naval), obliques (extending diagonally from ribs to pelvis), erector spinae (located along the spine from head to pelvis) and your lower lats. 

Therefore it’s important to ensure we are training the entire core because a stronger core means you can enhance your overall progress in your training and reduce the risk of injury. 

So here are our 15-minute core workout for every level to hit every muscle and build a stronger core…

 

Beginners Core Circuit

1. Crunches

Sets: 3 Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands by your forehead or cross your arms over your chest. Contract your abdominals by pulling your belly button in towards your spine, and slide your rib cage towards your hips, ensuring your lower back remains pushed into the floor. Your shoulders should lift slightly off the floor. Squeeze at the top of the movement and then lower yourself back to the starting position ensuring to control the movement. 

 

2. Heel Reach 

Sets: 3  Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Sets: 3  Reps: 15-20

Method: Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, tucked close to your glutes. Place your arms at your side outstretched. Contract your right oblique reaching your right hand towards your right heel, as soon as you reach your heel contract your left oblique and drive your left hand towards your left heel. Keep the movement going one touch each side counts as a rep  Ensuring your lower back remains pushed into the floor and your shoulders are lifted slightly off the floor. Squeeze at the bottom of the movement and before you move onto the opposite side. 

 

3. Reverse Crunch

Sets: 3   Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, tucked close to your glutes. Place your arms at your side outstretched. Contract your right oblique reaching your right hand towards your right heel, as soon as you reach your heel contract your left oblique and drive your left hand towards your left heel. Keep the movement going one touch each side counts as a rep  Ensuring your lower back remains pushed into the floor and your shoulders are lifted slightly off the floor. Squeeze at the bottom of the movement and before you move onto the opposite side. 

 

4. Glute Bridge 

Sets: 3   Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, tucked close to your glutes. Place your arms at your side outstretched. Engage your core and drive your hips up to the ceiling pushing through your heels (keeping your shoulders and arms on the floor). At the top of the movement pause and squeeze your glutes before slowly lowering back down to the floor. 

 

5. Forearm Plank

Sets: 3   Reps: 30-60 sec hold

Equipment: None

Method: Getting yourself into the press-up position lower yourself down so your forearms are flat on the floor, hands should be clenched and elbows under your shoulders in a 90-degree angle. Pull your lats back and down, engage your core by pulling your belly button to your spine and brace

 

Intermediate Core Circuit

1. Pike Crunches

Sets: 3   Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with you arms by your sides and extend your legs up just above the hip and then lower them down towards the ground and just before you feel your lower back lose contact or pressure with the floor stop and hold. With your arms extended out in front of your drive your hands towards your feet lifting your shoulders off the floor. Ensuring to pull your belly button towards your spine and maintaining contact between the floor and your lower back. 

 

2. Bicycle Crunch

Sets: 3   Reps: 20-30

Equipment: None

Method: Adopt a normal crunch position with your hands at your forehand, bend your knees and lift from the hip so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Engage your abs pulling your belly button to your spine and driving your lower back into the floor, as you do this bring your right elbow across your body to meet your left knee and simultaneously drop and straighten the right leg towards the floor but do not let it touch, return to start and then repeat on the opposite side by driving the left elbow to right knee and lowering the left leg (as if you were cycling). One movement each side counts as 2 reps.  

 

3. High Plank with Toe Reach

Sets: 3   Reps: 20

Equipment: None

Method: Getting yourself into the press-up position with you wrists and elbows directly under your shoulders. Pull your lats back and down, engage your core by pulling your belly button to your spine and brace. Hold for a few seconds before driving your hip up and back and reaching your right hand to your left foot before returning to the plank position. Hold and then repeat by driving hips up and reaching your left hand to your right foot. A reach each side counts as 2 reps. 

 

4. Leg Raises

Sets: 3   Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you, arms are by your side, palms flat on the floor or placed just under the side of you glutes (Hands should never be placed under the lower back). Engage your core pulling your belly button to your spine and with your lower back firmly pressed into the floor slowly raise your feet off the floor keeping your legs straight. Lift your legs to a 90-degree angle to the hip and then slowly lower your legs back down with control ensuring they do not touch the floor. 

 

5. Windscreen Wipers

Sets: 3   Reps: 20-30 reps

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you, arms are by your side, palms flat on the floor. Engage your core pulling your belly button to your spine and with your lower back firmly pressed into the floor slowly raise your feet off the floor keeping your legs straight. Lift your legs to a 90-degree angle to the hip toes pointed to the ceiling. Twisting from the hip keeping your back and arms on the floor lower your legs down towards the right but do not touch the floor, using your core bring your legs back to the start position before lowering down to the left. A lower on each side counts as 2 reps. 

 

Advanced Core Circuit

1. V-sit Crunches

Sets: 3   Reps: 15-20

Equipment: None

Method: Lay on the floor with your legs out straight out in front of you and toes pointed. Arms should be slightly lifted over the side of your chest. Engaging your core lift your torso up driving your hands forwards while simultaneously pulling your knee up and in to meet your chest in the middle before lowering yourself back to starting position. 

 

2. L-Sit

Sets: 3   Reps: Hold for 10-20 

Equipment: Dumbbells 

Method: Set your dumbbells up shoulder-width apart, holding onto them position yourself sitting between them with your legs straight out in front of you, toes pointed. Straighten your arms and lock your elbows to your sides, pulling your shoulder blades back and down to engage the lats. Pushing through your palms lift and engaging your core lift your legs off the floor and hold keeping your knees straight, and squeezing your quads together.. 

 

3. Ab Roller

Equipment: Ab Roller

Method: Starting on your knee with the ab roller in your hands on the floor in front of your body. Engage your core and slowly roll the wheel forward keeping your arms extended and your knees planted. Extend as far as you can ideally until your body is parallel to the floor and then without arching your back return to starting position.  

 

4. Yoga Ball Tuck to Pike

Sets: 3   Reps: 10-15

Equipment: Yoga ball

Method: Start in the high plank position with your feet on the ball and your arms fully extended. Slowly bend your knees in towards the chest curling the ball in forwards, tucking your knees under your chest as your hips raise, and slowly return to the extended position. Once in starting position use your core to drive your hips up to the ceiling keeping your feet on the ball, you should bend from the hip keeping your legs and arms straight before returning to the start position. One movement of each counts as 1 rep.

 

5. Hollow Holds

Sets: 3   Reps: 30- 60 sec hold

Equipment: None

Method: Lay flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you and toes pointed. Raise so they are outstretched vertically over your head, engage your core and raise your arms/shoulders and legs off the floor (around 6-8 inches) ensuring your lower back is firming pressing into the floor. Hold this position for the intended time maintaining tension in your core the entire time.  

 

Ab Workouts & Exercises: Your Questions Answered

What is the best ab exercise for muscle mass?

There isn’t once particular ab exercise that will help with muscle mass but ensuring to use a variety of both bodyweight and loaded exercises that target the entire core to ensure a well rounded and strong trunk. 

 

What is the best ab exercise for weight loss?

No amount of abdominal exercises will have a real impact on belly fat but by strengthening them and building a solid and strong core will help you become more effective and efficient in all forms of training meaning this will aid with overall weight loss.  

 

Can you do ab workouts every day?

For most people working your core around 3-5 times a week is sufficient enough to gain a strong and solid core as long as you are using a variety of exercises which target all the muscle within the entire core. Some individuals train their core daily however it is down to you to listen to your body and work with what feels right. 

 

Do men and women need different ab exercises?

The short answer is No. Women and men can train the same exercises and at the same intensity. The only time that ab exercises will need to be altered for Women is when she is expected or has had a child. 

 

Take Home Message

Whatever your current level of exercise it’s important for everyone to continue to work on and strengthen their entire core. Building a solid foundation means that you are more effective and efficient in your other training and will help you work harder, lift heavier, and keep smashing PBs. 

Add one of these circuits into your gym or home workout to build all-around core strength.

 

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Amy Golby

Amy Golby

Personal Trainer & Exercise Nutritionist

Amy has been a sportswoman for over 18 years playing rugby and netball up to a national level, she has been a qualified personal trainer for 5 years and further her nutritional knowledge with a diploma in sports and exercise nutrition as well a psychology degree. She has been training in a gym and weightlifting for over 10 years and continues to learn and improve her training in order to reach her goals. She believes in both the physical and mental advantages of sport and fitness as well as a balanced diet and lifestyle. Amy has created programs around sport and fitness for Red Bull, Look magazine, Spartan UK, as well as Mental Movement UK around how fitness can help improve your mental health. In her spare time, Amy enjoys playing sport, socialising with friends, and fuelling her shopping addiction to gym wear. She can be found here - https://www.instagram.com/dreams_and_dumbbells/?hl=en


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