10 Core Strengthening Exercises for Beginners

Core strengthening exercises for beginners is an extremely important topic to discuss as core strength defines your body’s movement in day-to-day activities and even normal workouts.

Core strength is extremely important for your posture and body balance as these muscles can really make a difference in your workout and even prevent injuries from happening.

So, if you are a beginner and looking for ways to increase your core strength, here is a list of 10 core strengthening exercises for beginners.

Why Do You Need Core Strength?

The core is situated in your torso and is considered the centre of your body. It provides stability to your spine and hips as well as connects your upper body to your lower body. It helps in better posture and plays a major role in functional movements. Having good core strength helps in avoiding injuries and, of course, getting those abs.

One of the most important things that I learned on my fitness journey was how important your core is to have a balanced body. Core strength helps with endurance, stability and feeling fatigued. If you are an athlete, dancer or even a normal person, knowing how to engage your core muscles can make a ton of difference and bring out better performance.

Poor core strength leaves you prone to lower back pain, injuries and bad posture; hence, it is extremely important for you to learn how to engage your core and strengthen it. Therefore, it is important to focus on core strengthening exercises for beginners.

Now that we know why the core muscles are important, here are ten of my favourite exercises that helped me improve my core strength as a beginner.

10 Core Strengthening Exercises for Beginners

1. Plank

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By: G-Stock Studio on Shutterstock

Plank is the best way to crunch those core muscles and feel them out. Thirty seconds of plank can feel like an eternity, but it’s just worth it. There are numerous variations of a plank, but as a beginner, we will focus on the elbow plank.

Once you are able to hold this position for more than one minute, you can get adventurous and also try different variations of it such as shoulder plank, side plank or hip dips with a plank; there are quite some good variations out there for you to try.

Plank is the best exercise to learn how to engage your core and hence is my number one recommendation in the Core strengthening exercises for beginners list.

How to Do a Plank

To do an elbow plank, place your forearms under your shoulder on the floor. Now extend your legs behind while grounding your toes in the ground. Please take reference from the photo.

While you are in the plank position, do not let your back arch. Keep your legs close and keep your head in such a position that it maintains a straight line along with your back. Keep your feet close to each other as it automatically engages your core and brings your lower back in line with the rest of your body.

2. Crunches

Does it Take to Get a 6 Pack
Source: Unlimphotos

Crunches are actually the most basic core exercises. If you have ever been to a gym, you must have seen someone or the other doing it. It’s a good exercise to engage your core as beginners. It is extremely effective if done right and hence has been placed in my Core strengthening exercises for beginners’ list.

How to Do a Crunch

To do a crunch, lie down on the floor and bend your knees, placing your feet hip-width apart. Now it’s a choice whether you want to cross your hands on your chest or place them on either side of your head. This will be your base position.

After you have assumed your base position, you lift your upper torso off the floor. The goal is to take your shoulder blades off the floor and then bring them back down.

Make sure to engage your core as it can put pressure on your neck. If you feel too much pressure on the neck, take a break and try again as this is a signal of the core not being engaged, which also tells that your core strength is weak.

3. Sit-Ups

bicycle crunches
Photo by Jonathan Borba/ Pexels.com

Sit-ups are a variation of crunches. They are again easy to do and a good exercise to include in a beginner core workout.

To do a sit-up, you assume the same base position as crunches. The only difference between a crunch and a sit-up is that instead of only lifting your shoulder blades, you lift your entire upper body towards your bent knees. You can also keep your legs extended straight if you want.

While doing a sit-up, keep your core engaged as the pressure might end up coming on your neck and lower back. So it is extremely important to engage your core. These exercises are also great to indicate if you have a strong core or not.

4. Navasana or the Boat Pose

Yoga for weight loss
By: Fizkes on Shutterstock

The boat pose is another good exercise to really strengthen your core muscles as well as hip flexors1. Again there is a variation for this exercise for beginners. At the start, we will only focus on holding this pose for more than 10 sec rather than trying to go all out as the man in the photo.

So what we will be doing is called the half boat pose, and then we can gradually work our way to the full pose.

How to do the Boat Pose

To do the boat pose, sit down on the floor with your knees bent and your foot flat on the floor. Now raise your legs till your lower legs (calves) are parallel to the floor and bring your hands forward, keeping your arms extended beside your knees.

Your hands should be parallel to the floor as well; your upper body will start leaning backwards. Keep your spine straight and chest open. This is the half-boat pose.

You can further extend your legs completely if you can. This exercise helps in balance and better posture. Raising your legs straight further can be a challenging move, but it would be worth it.

Do not slump your back while doing this exercise. The idea is not to completely extend your legs but to engage your core while maintaining a proper form.

5. Leg Raises

LEG RAISES: Rock Solid Abs & Incredible Core Strength

This is one of the most effective exercises for core training, and this exercise also works wonders for your lower abs as crunches and sit-ups don’t really target these areas.

If you are eyeing to get that six-pack, then definitely include this exercise in your daily workout plan. This exercise also requires a lot of core strength to do. It might look easy, but it definitely is not.

How to Do Leg Raises

To do a leg raise, just lay down on the floor with your arms by your side and your legs straight. Now all you have to do is bring those legs towards the ceiling and then lower them down but not touch the floor.

Hold them a few inches off the floor. Try to keep your legs extended and straight while taking them up and bringing them down. Do not touch the floor bring them back towards the ceiling and repeat the motion.

Avoid throwing your leg on the ground, do not hold your breath, and keep your arms straight by your side or under your hips.

6. Bicycle Crunch

shutterstock 1693250671
Ground Picture on Shutterstock

The bicycle crunch is a good exercise to check your core strength. These are good for your external obliques and also work your other muscles apart from your core.

To do a bicycle crunch2, lay down on the floor and extend your legs. Place both your hands on the side of your head and bring your head and shoulder slightly off the floor. Your lower back remains on the ground. Now fold your left leg and bring it in towards your chest.

While you bring your left knee in, twist your body and left shoulder away and bring your right elbow towards the left knee. You do not need to touch the knee with your elbow. Now extend your left leg and fold your right leg.

Bring the right knee towards your chest and your left elbow towards the knee. Continue the motion as fast as you can. Avoid jerking your head.

7. Russian Twists

How to Do a Russian Twist | Ab Workout

Russian twists are another set of great core strengthening exercises for beginners to do to improve their core strength. It’s relatively easier compared to other exercises listed here, such as a classic crunch.

Russian twists are an effective and more flexible way of engaging your core, shoulders, neck, and obliques. To do a Russian twist, sit down on the floor with your legs bent at the knees and lower your upper body to forty-five degrees with the floor.

There is a variation in feet position. You can put your feet flat on the floor or bring them a few inches off the floor and cross them. After you have placed yourself in the starting position, interlock your hands in front of your chest and start moving them from side to side.

You can touch your hands to the ground or keep them parallel to the ground each time you move them to either side.

Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core muscles. Pregnant women and people with back injuries should avoid this exercise. When you keep your back and neck in a line, it is called a neutral spine position3. Try and maintain that in almost every exercise until and unless specified not to do so.

8. Bird Dog

How to Do the Bird Dog Exercise | Abs Workout

Bird dog is another example of simple core exercises that are good for your back, core, and hips. It helps with back pain and also increases the range of motion. To do a bird dog, we have to assume a tabletop position.

To get a tabletop position, place your hands under your shoulder and your knees under your hips. After you have assumed the base position, raise your left hand in front of you and raise and extend your right leg at the same time.

Now slowly lower them and bring them back to the base position, now do the same thing on another side with your right arm and left foot.

Maintain the tabletop position, keep your back straight and align your head with your back. This position can be extremely relaxing for your back and can help with lower back pain.

9. Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge Exercise - The correct way of doing it

Another great exercise to help you relax while engaging your core is glute bridges. Glute bridges help with increasing strength in the lower back, and it also effectively works your glute muscles, as the name suggests.

It is a low-maintenance activity that only requires little to no space and can also be done by people with mild pain in the back and hips.

How to Do a Glute Bridge

Lay down on your back and keep your feet flat on the ground while you bend your knees. Keep your leg hip-width apart and your hands by your side, maybe a little further away from your body. Make sure your back is completely on the floor and not arching. This will be the starting position.

After you have reached the starting position, start raising your hips up. You need to make sure that your toes are in line with your knees. After you have raised your hips up, bring them back down slowly. Try to keep your spine in a neutral position, and don’t let your back slump. Keep the motion continuous and avoid jerking.

10. Dead Bug

Physical Therapy - Dead Bug Exercise

The dead bug is another easy core strengthening exercise for beginners as it helps stabilize your body and helps relieve lower back pain. It is a good relaxing movement that helps relax your body and also helps build core strength and stability.

How to Do a Dead Bug

The dead bug 4is like a Bird dog but flipped. Lie on your back, now raise your legs at ninety degrees from the floor with your knees bent. Your calves or legs below your knees will be parallel to the floor.

Now extend your hands with your elbows above your shoulders, perpendicular to the floor, and your palms facing inside. 

To start the exercise:

  1. Lower your left leg completely while keeping your right leg in the same position.
  2. Simultaneously bring your right arm down towards your head.
  3. Bring the hand and leg to their original position and try the same on the other side with the right foot and left arm.
  4. Inhale while lowering your hand and leg and exhale while bringing them back.

Engage your core at all times. Relax your back completely and keep your shoulders relaxed.

And these were the ten core strengthening exercises for beginners. The list follows exercises that do not require any equipment and can be done anywhere at any time without any restrictions. 

Also read: Best 101 Guide to Professional Physical Therapy

  1. Konrad, Andreas, et al. “The influence of stretching the hip flexor muscles on performance parameters. a systematic review with meta-analysis.” International journal of environmental research and public health 18.4 (2021): 1936. ↩︎
  2. Anniza, Meiza. “THE EFFECT OF SIT-UP EXERCISE AND BICYCLE CRUNCH EXERCISE FOR REDUCING STOMACH CIRCUMSTANCES.” Journal Of Applied Health Research And Development 4.1 (2022): 76-85. ↩︎
  3. Zwambag, Derek P., and Stephen HM Brown. “Experimental validation of a novel spine model demonstrates the large contribution of passive muscle to the flexion relaxation phenomenon.” Journal of Biomechanics 102 (2020): 109431. ↩︎
  4. Ikele, Chioma Nneka, et al. “Comparative analysis of the effects of abdominal crunch exercise and dead bug exercise on core stability of young adults.” Nigerian Journal of Medicine 29.4 (2020): 676-679. ↩︎

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Srishti Bisht

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