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Better Core Training

The “core” is an all-encompassing term referring to all of the musculature that makes ups the trunk of your body. In addition to your rectus abdominus (commonly referred to as your abs), the core includes your transverse abdominis, internal abdominal obliques, external abdominal obliques, as well as your erector spinae, which is actually the muscle attached to your spine on your backside.

From a functional standpoint, it is important to incorporate core exercises into your training that allow you to go through similar movement patterns demanded of your core on a daily basis in order to keep these muscles strong and healthy. Your core also plays a huge role in stabilizing your spine while moving, which makes exercises that include bracing equally as important.

If you are primarily training with complex movements that target multiple muscle groups such as squatting variations, deadlift variations, upper body push and pull movements, chances are you you’re well on your way to building a strong functional core. However, sometimes it is important to put further emphasis on strengthening the core muscles to make you even stronger and make your training even better. A stronger core will lead to stronger lifts and a better functioning body in daily life.

Like I mentioned above, your core involves far more muscles than just your abs, so doing a bunch of crunches is not going to train all those muscles. Crunches only target one range of motion, trunk flexion in the sagittal plane. For a solid strong core, we must do exercises that address all core muscles and all ranges of motion to include abdominal bracing where all your muscles are working together.

Below are six core exercises that I believe most women should be incorporating into their training. These are not the only options, but they are a great place to start. All six exercises are functional exercises, meaning that they require your core muscles to work as a unit, as opposed to targeting one muscle group. Practicing these exercises consistently will definitely lead to a stronger, healthier core.

  1. Bear crawls

Purpose: stabilization of the spine during movement, teaches core muscles to coordination properly together

Key Points for execution: Your opposite hand and foot should touch at the same time as you move forward. Keep your hips level and shins parallel to the ground as you move.

Reps/ set recommendations: 3-4 sets of 30 seconds- 1 minute of work

2. Deadbugs

Purpose: anterior core stability

Key Points for execution:

The opposite arm and leg are extending while the other side remains stationary. Keep your back flush to the ground with your ribs down. To modify, place your hands by your sides and just focus on tapping your heels to the ground one at a time.

Reps/ set recommendations: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on each side

3. Hollow Holds

Purpose: abdominal strength; same body positioning of a pull up. If training to do your first pull up, definitely do these!

Key Points for execution: Keep your chin tucked to your chest, arms by your ears, and feet at about six inches from the ground. To modify this movement, either place your hands by your sides, tuck one or both knees into your chest, or any combination of those two. Just make sure it’s challenging for YOU.

Reps/ set recommendations: 3-4 sets of 10- 30 second holds

4. Palloff Press

Purpose: anti-rotational movement; teaches your core to resist rotational movement forces, strengthening the obliques in a static hold. The rest of the core is also challenged to stabilize.

Key Points for execution: The closer your feet are together, the more difficult the exercise is. Focus on resisting the cable weight from rotating your torso towards the cable machine and remain in line with the cable machine.

Reps/ set recommendations: 3-4 sets of 10 reps on each side

5. Heavy carries (Farmer’s carries, suitcase carries, goblet carries, crossover carries)

Purpose: bracing with heavy external loads on the body

Key Points for execution: All variations are slightly different, but stand tall as you walk with these heavy loads!

Reps/ set recommendations: 3-4 sets of 20-30 seconds (each arm for one sided lifts)

6. Cable (or resistance band) Oblique Twists

Purpose: rotational core movement; think swinging a baseball bat, or getting in and out of a car.

Key Points for execution: Focus on rotation at your trunk when performing this exercise. Keep your arms straight all the way across.

Reps/ set recommendations: 3-4 sets of 10 reps on each side

What does your core training currently look like? I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me an email at or leave a comment below!

Happy training!

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