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Article Published on: 21ST JULY 2023 |

A strong and stable core is the foundation of overall fitness and functional movement. The core muscles, which include the abdominals, obliques, lower back, and pelvic floor, play a crucial role in maintaining proper posture, supporting the spine, and transferring force between the upper and lower body. Building a strong core not only enhances athletic performance but also reduces the risk of injuries and improves daily activities. In this article, we will explore the three best exercises for developing a robust core and achieving a stable and balanced midsection.

Plank Variations

Plank exercises are among the most effective and versatile core-strengthening movements. They engage multiple muscles simultaneously and improve endurance, stability, and posture. Variations of the plank target different parts of the core and can be modified to suit various fitness levels. Here are three plank variations that can help you build a strong core: a) Standard Plank:

  1. Start in a push-up position, with your hands placed directly under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels.

  2. Engage your core muscles, squeeze your glutes, and avoid arching or sagging your back.

  3. Hold the plank position for as long as you can maintain proper form, aiming for at least 30 seconds to begin with.

  4. Gradually increase the duration of your planks as your core strength improves.

b) Side Plank:

  1. Lie on your side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and your legs stacked on top of each other.

  2. Lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your head to your heels.

  3. Engage your core and hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.

  4. For an extra challenge, lift your top leg or add a side plank rotation by reaching your top arm under your body and then extending it up towards the ceiling.

c) Plank with Shoulder Taps:

  1. Assume a standard plank position.

  2. While maintaining a stable core, lift one hand off the ground and tap the opposite shoulder.

  3. Return the hand to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

  4. Continue alternating shoulder taps while keeping your body steady and minimizing any rotation.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches are an effective and dynamic core exercise that engages the rectus abdominis and the obliques. This exercise mimics the motion of riding a bicycle, making it an engaging and fun way to work on your core. Here's how to perform bicycle crunches:

  1. Lie on your back with your hands lightly supporting your head, elbows wide, and your legs lifted off the ground, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

  2. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground while bringing your right knee toward your chest.

  3. As you crunch, twist your torso to bring your left elbow towards your right knee.

  4. Straighten your right leg and simultaneously bring your left knee towards your chest while twisting to bring your right elbow towards your left knee.

  5. Continue alternating sides in a controlled and rhythmic motion, engaging your core throughout the movement.

To intensify the exercise, perform the bicycle crunches at a slower pace, pause at the peak of each crunch, or hold a light dumbbell behind your head.

Photo by Antoni Shkraba


While deadlifts are often associated with building strength in the posterior chain (lower back, glutes, and hamstrings), they are also highly effective for engaging the core muscles. Deadlifts require a stable and strong core to maintain proper form and protect the lower back during the lift. There are various deadlift variations, but the conventional deadlift is a fundamental exercise that targets the core along with other major muscle groups. Here's how to perform a conventional deadlift:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and a barbell in front of you.

  2. Bend at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight and chest lifted, to grip the barbell with both hands shoulder-width apart.

  3. Engage your core, brace your abs, and lift the barbell by extending your hips and standing tall.

  4. As you lift, keep the barbell close to your body and your spine in a neutral position.

  5. Lower the barbell back to the ground with controlled movement, maintaining the proper form throughout.

It is essential to start with light weights and focus on proper technique before gradually increasing the load. Deadlifts can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells, depending on your equipment availability and personal preference.

Photo by Mike González

Conclusion Building a strong core is vital for maintaining overall fitness and preventing injuries in daily activities and athletic pursuits. Incorporating plank variations, bicycle crunches, and deadlifts into your fitness routine can provide a well-rounded core-strengthening program. Remember to perform these exercises with proper form, engage your core throughout the movements, and progress gradually to avoid injury. By consistently working on your core strength, you will not only enhance your physical performance but also achieve a stable and balanced midsection that supports you in every aspect of life.

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