20 Core Exercises Top Trainers Swear By

A strong core is an invaluable asset. For starters, a strong and stable midsection can give you better balance and better posture, and it can even help reduce back pain. I find myself writing and saying this over and over again, because it’s so true: Every move you make, both in daily life and during a workout, will be easier if your core is showing up and doing its job. It really is the center of all your movement.

Your core is made up of many muscles, including your rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think “abs”), transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back), and the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen). Since various combinations of these muscles are involved in so many different exercises, you don’t have to be doing things that target one specific area, like sit-ups, to challenge these muscles. In fact, some of the best, most efficient core exercises are ones that work the entire muscle group at once. (This also helps keep the muscles balanced, which is important for improving performance and avoiding injury.)

Other great core exercises, like deadlifts and squats, seemingly don’t work your midsection at all—but core engagement is crucial to do them properly, which is why I like to call them “sneaky” core moves.

When it comes down to it, there are a million and one ways to work your core. So how can you decide what’s best? Or just where to even start? I asked top trainers to share their favorite core exercises, so that I could put together a list of some great ones to try. Most of them use only your bodyweight, so you can easily add them into your workout routine whether you’re at home, in a gym, or traveling.

Below, check out 20 great core moves that top trainers swear by. Demoing the moves is Amanda Wheeler, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies.

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