My Top 5 Core Exercises
When discussing fitness goals, almost every person I come across will list “core strength” as one of their top three - and for good reason.
A stronger core will:
- Improve your posture
- Improve your balance
- Protect/ bulletproof your low back
- Help solidify and coordinate any functional, multi-joint movement you perform (whether it be in the gym or daily life)
- Serve as your link between your upper and lower extremities
- Enhance your overall movement and athleticism
…to name a few. The question then becomes: which core exercises are the ‘best’?
Like most answers in the health and fitness industry, the response is more than likely “it depends.”
However, individuality aside, there are certain types of core exercises that I believe are inherently better than others. As a rule of thumb, most core exercises that involve both your glutes and delts will offer more bang for your buck than isolating spinal flexion (and may be better for your spine in general). In other words, you will get more out of these exercises per rep as you would with, say, crunches or sit ups.
Below is a list of my top 5 staples (one per category) that I will look to implement into almost anyone’s program. Since all of these exercises can be modified or progressed accordingly, I will often times use these five as a template for programming:
1.) Fall Outs/ Roll Outs (Anti-Extension): begin full kneeling with your hands under your shoulders on a TRX/ab roller, elbows extended, and spine in slight flexion. Leading with your hips, slowly fall/roll forward as far as possible without extending through your low back/flaring your ribs. Once you reach a point where you cannot maintain a stable/neutral trunk, pause and roll back at the same rate as you rolled forward. Your hips and shoulders should move all in one line.
2.) Pallof Press (Anti-Rotation): begin with a band/cable machine to your side and step out to tension with the band/handle at your chest. While maintaining a strong stance, press the band/cable away from your chest without moving the rest of your body. The band/handle should stay in line with your chest and your hips and shoulders should stay square the entire time.
3.) Hip Rotation Plank (Rotational): begin in a low plank with your elbows under your shoulders. Make sure you are parallel with the floor and your abs and glutes are engaged. From here, slowly rotate your hips in one direction without moving at your feet or extending through your low back. Return to your starting position and alternate sides.
4.) Farmer’s Carry (Anti-Lateral Flexion): begin with two (heavy) kettlebells/dumbells by your sides. With solid postural position and a tight grip, walk forward while limiting trunk sway as much as possible.
5.) Bear Crawl (Motor Control): begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Rise up on to your toes so that your knees are hovering above the ground. From here, crawl forward with your hand and opposite foot at the same rate and alternate while limiting trunk/hip movement as much as possible.
Feel free to hit me up with any questions or further explanations. If not, get to work!
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS