Quick Core Workout Routine

8 Basic Exercises to Build Your Core Strength

For a quick workout that strengthens your core, try a simple routine of eight basic exercises. These are classic moves that have been used by athletes for years and they're a great way to build up your body's most important muscles. 

Best of all, this exercise routine is suited for beginners and trained athletes alike and can take up just 20 minutes of your day. You can start slow, holding positions as long as you can, then build up to longer holds, more repetitions, and variations to increase intensity. Over time, you will notice an improvement in your core strength. This routine is also a great warm-up and a solid foundation to build your full workout.

1

Man performing a plank
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This quick core routine begins with the plank exercise, which provides a great warm-up. The plank engages all the muscles of the core: the rectus abdominis, the internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, the hip flexors, the erector spinae, and multifidus.

Begin in the pictured position. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. Hold the position 15 to 60 seconds while maintaining control.

To increase the difficulty and intensity of this movement, alternate lifting one arm out in front of you while maintaining your posture for 10 seconds and repeating on the other side. You can do the same with each leg. Simply lift your foot up and hold that position for 10 seconds, repeating on the opposite leg.

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2

Side Plank
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The side plank engages the often-overlooked muscles that help support your core—the lateral stabilizers from the ankle to the shoulder. This is one simple and effective exercise to help increase lateral hip strength and stability. It will also keep your obliques and transverse abdominis strong.

Begin in the pictured position and keep your body stiff from head to toe. Hold the position 15 to 60 seconds while maintaining control. Repeat on the other side.

To increase the difficulty and intensity of this movement, alternate lifting your top leg up a few inches. Hold it for 10 seconds while maintaining your balance.

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3

V-Sit Abdominal Exercise
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The V-sit is an effective abdominal and core exercise that works the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques. This exercise also engages the hip flexors.

To do the V-sit, start in a seated position on the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles and core, and lift your legs up to a 45-degree angle as pictured.

Reach your arms straight forward or reach up toward your shins as you are able. Maintain good core posture and a strong spine while you hold the position for several seconds. Rest and repeat several times.

As you get stronger, hold the position longer.

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4

Bicycle Crunch Exercise
Eri Morita

The bicycle crunch exercise is a classic and it works the core in all the right places. According to an abdominal exercise study done at San Diego State University, this is one of the best exercises for the rectus abdominus and obliques, 

To do the exercise, lay flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Rest your hands behind your head without pulling on your neck. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion.

First, touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Perform the exercise in a slow, controlled motion. Do 10 to 25 repetitions on each side, adding more as you build strength and endurance.

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5

Woman doing a bridge exercise.
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The hip bridge exercise isolates and strengthen your gluteus (butt) muscles and hamstrings (back of the upper leg). This, along with the single leg bridge exercise, are good core strengtheners that target both the abs and the low back muscles. The bridge exercise is also a basic rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization.

Start flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and hands laying flat along your slides. Tighten your ab and butt muscles as you raise your hips to create a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Hold the position for 15 to 60 seconds while maintaining control.

To increase the difficulty and intensity of this movement, alternate lifting up on your toes so your heels come off the ground. Then reverse it with the toes off the ground and your weight on your heels.

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6

Single Leg Bridge Exercise
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After you've mastered the bridge exercise, the single leg bridge exercise is the next step. This move is a great way to isolate and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. When you do this exercise correctly, you will also find that it is a very powerful core strengthener.

Start on your back, hands by your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground, directly under your knees. Lift up into a bridge position, and tighten your core. Slowly raise and extend one leg. Keep your pelvis raised and level, try not to let one side dip down.

Work up to a point where you can hold this position 20 to 30 seconds while maintaining control. Be sure to do both sides.

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7

Pushups with lat row
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This exercise combines two upper body and core exercises into a single move. It's a variation of the push up that adds a dumbbell row to the movement to form a solid back exercise. Not only does the weight increase the intensity of the exercise, it also it activates the core stabilizers and engages the latissimus dorsi (back) muscles.

Start in a push up position with each hand on a dumbbell (begin with a light weight to learn the movement). Complete a full push up. Once you return to the start position, add a dumbbell row: raise one dumbbell while stabilizing your body with the other arm and lower the dumbbell gently to the ground. Repeat another push up.

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8
Core Workout Exercise 8: Skip with Twist

The skip with a twist exercise.
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If you are using this core workout before sports, you may want to add this final exercise before hitting the court, field, or pavement. There are many ways to warm-up, but this simple skip with a twist engages the muscles of the core as well as the upper and lower body in a gentle and rhythmic movement.

  1. Find a level place with enough room for about 10 full forward strides.
  2. Begin by slowly skipping forward 10 strides (5 per side), stop and turn around.
  3. For each return skip, gradually add more intensity and a larger twist to your strides.
  4. Continue to add a full arm swing and drive your knees a bit higher.
  5. Finally, add the torso twist. Take full skipping strides, driving your knees upward and your arms across your body to a full range of motion.

Keep your movements smooth and controlled, not sloppy. Focus on your core and abdominal muscles to get the most from this warm-up exercise.

A Word From Verywell

Expect some challenges when you first begin this core exercise routine. If it's been awhile since you worked out, you'll be working muscles that you may have ignored for some time. Go slow, but be persistent. After a few days and weeks, you'll notice that each exercise gets easier as your muscle strength improves.