Creating a strong mid-section should be near the top of your fitness to-do list, it’s importance to our every day lives is a one we take for granted and . Every move that we make whether it be in the gym or daily life is assisted in one way or another by our core muscles, a strong core will give you better balance, better posture and can even reduce back pain should you suffer from it.

So what are your “core muscles”? They’re not just the fancy six packs that you see flaunted on Instagram. Your core is made up of many muscles and can be divided into four regions, which include the rectus abdominis (The six pack “abs” you relate to most) transverse abdominis (internal core muscles that wrap around your sides and spine) erector spinae (in your lower back) internal and external obliques (on the side of your abdomen).

A lot of exercises that you perform will work various combinations of these muscles at once, therefore you don’t have to target a specific area to work them. The most efficient core exercises are the ones that work all of your core muscles at once, which is what we look to cover in these 10 exercises. Why? Because working them all at once helps to keep the muscles balanced which in turn leads to less injuries and a boost in performance.

Most of these exercises require no equipment, making them easy to slip into your current workout routines, no matter where you are. So without further ado, here they are!

1. Plank

Considered one of the best all round moves for core conditioning, not only because it works all of your core muscles but it engages your entire body creating true strength and stability. A must have in your core workout routine.

How to perform:

  • Place your forearms flat on the floor with your elbows directly below your shoulders and hands facing forwards making sure your arms are parallel.
  • Extend your legs out behind you bringing yourself up on your toes so that your body looks in a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  • Keep your neck in a natural position while you engage your core, glutes, and quad muscles. Make sure you keep your butt level with the rest of your body, not allowing it to bridge up towards the ceiling or dip towards the floor.
  • Hold the position.

2. Dead Bug

You won’t feel any deep burning sensations from this exercise but that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at it! Not only will this give you great deep core strength but it will get your mind working as you perform the movement as well.

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back, extending your arms towards the ceiling and lifting your legs into a 90 degree angle, making sure your knees are over your hips.
  • Keep your core engaged, lower back pressed to the floor and squeeze your glutes as you slowly drop one of your arms overhead, at the same time extend your opposite leg out straight without touching them to the ground.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side

3. High Boat, Low Boat

Not only will this move challenge your core, but your balance as well. Performing this exercise will help strengthen your rectus abdominis (“abs”) the erector spinae (which helps support the spine) and your hip flexors.

How to perform:

  • Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your legs together, raise them slightly to create a 45 degree angle to your torso and balance on your tailbone, making sure you engage your core and keep your back straight.
  • Reach your arms out in front of you (down the sides of your body) and parallel to the floor. If you need extra support place your finger tips next to your hips.
  • This is the “High Boat” hold for a second.
  • Begin to lower and push your legs out straight, lowering your upper body simultaneously. Your shoulder blades and legs should hover above the ground, try and get as low as possible without touching the ground.
  • This is the “Low Boat” hold for a second then return to the “High Boat”.

4. Body Saw (Gliders/Towel Needed)

A great exercise when done correctly can increase core stability and strength.

How to perform:

  • Place yourself in a plank position as stated in the first exercise placing your toes on the gliders, tucking your tailbone in and engaging the core, glutes and quad muscles.
  • Gently rock back and fourth on your forearms/elbows so that your gliders are being pushed back behind you and then brought forwards, ensuring core is constantly engaged.

5. Side Plank w/ Bend

An excellent exercise for targeting the obliques and deep core muscles and guaranteed to give you some serious burning sensations. As well as targeting your core muscles, this exercise will work your arms and back and can be done anywhere!

How to perform:

  • Get yourself into a side plank position by placing one of your hands on the floor directly below your shoulder, making sure you’re facing sideways. Stack your feet on top of one another, if this is too difficult try staggering your feet so that one is in front of the other.
  • Engage your core and glutes with your other arm is down by your side.
  • Dip your hips towards the ground without holding at the bottom and return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired amount of reps before switching to the next side.

6. Hollow Body Rock

An exercise you probably don’t see around the gym too often, but a very effective one that teaches you to create tension over your whole body. This is great for carrying over to exercises such as push-ups and pull ups where engaging your core is essential.

How to perform:

  • Lie face up and extend your arms and legs away from you, ensuring they are tucked in together.
  • Contract your abs to push your lower back into the ground. Pointing your toes, squeeze your glutes and thighs to lift your legs off the ground.
  • Then lift your shoulder off the ground, making sure your neck is not straining. This should lead to a banana-like shape with your lower back and hips touching the floor.
  • Slowly rock forward and back, keeping the tension high in your muscles and allow your feet and hands to almost touch the floor. (If this is too difficult/you find it painful try just holding the start position)

7. Leg Raises

An exercise that really get to work on the lower abdominals. Sit at a desk all day? Then you need to be doing this one! Not only does it this move work the lower abdominals really well (which is a difficult target in the first place) but it also strengthens your hip flexors and makes them more mobile, and a common find in people who work at a desk for most of the day is tight hip flexors.

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms by your sides (or tucked underneath for extra support), then slowly raise your legs keeping them together and as straight as possible until you create a 90 degree angle with your body and the soles of your feet toward the ceiling.
  • Once in this position lower them back down and hover your heels about the floor not allowing them to touch. That’s 1 rep, repeat.
  • If you find that your lower back is painful don’t lower your legs as far and try to keep your lower back pinned to the ground.

8. Russian Twists

This one is sure to bring on a burn in your obliques and will have your core feeling so much stronger by the end of it.

How to perform:

  • Sit on the floor with your feet flat on the ground, keeping your feet together.
  • Raise your legs up, engaging your core with a straight back and balance on your tailbone.
  • Holding your hands together swing your arms to one side, twisting at the waist. Once over one side twist your hips to the other allowing your arms and hands to follow. Repeat.

9. Plank Rolls

This move will help to strengthen your entire core by tightening and strengthening your obliques and deep core muscles.

How to perform:

  • Start in a forearm plank (the same as the first exercise) making sure you engage your core, glute and quad muscles.
  • Rotate your hips to the left allowing your left leg to get close to the floor while maintaining complete core engagement. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.

10. Butterfly Sit Up

Putting your legs into the butterfly position before performing a sit up eliminates the option to use your hip flexors to propel yourself forwards and demands good form. An ideal exercise for those who struggle with their form and can be easily modified to make the move harder or easier.

How to perform:

  • Lie down on your back with the soles of your feet together, knees out, creating a diamond shape between your legs.
  • Reach your arms above your head, and using your core muscles roll your upper half up until you are sitting up right reaching your fingers towards your toes.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position, that is 1 rep. Repeat for your desired amount of reps.

And there you have it! 10 core exercises you can perform anywhere that are certain to improve core stability and strength.