4 Challenging At-Home Core Exercises Worth the Burn

At-Home Core-Killing Exercises from Burn Pilates

Core Strengthening Exercises
Getty Images/Kristian Sekulic

Strengthening your core doesn't mean spending countless hours doing situps, just hoping for the elusive six pack to eventually show up. No, developing a strong core means performing exercises that strengthen everything from your shoulders to your hips, not just for the purpose of a svelte physique (although it's a worthy goal!), but for the other benefits a strong core has to offer. For instance, improved balance and coordination, enhanced athletic performance and a reduction in low back pain.

Pilates is one form of exercise that places a keen focus on improving core strength through whole-body exercises that target the hips, abdomen, low back, chest and shoulders, both statically and dynamically. This workout from Burn Pilates founder and personal trainer, Lisa Corsello is guaranteed to get your body burning, firing up your core in no time flat. Trust me, the results are worth the burn!

Not near a Burn Pilates studio? Check out the DVD >>

About the Author: Lisa Corsello

Lisa is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, nutrition consultant and group fitness instructor who works with clients to create customized, goal-oriented exercise and nutrition plans. Using her extensive training and fitness background, Lisa has developed a popular fitness technique called Burn. The 55-minute workout brings the benefits of dynamic individualized workouts to groups using a method that draws upon the best of Pilates, strength and core training for optimal results. Her programs emphasize constant movement using circuits to challenge and improve endurance, agility, balance and strength, with appropriate focus on stressing proper form and method. Each workout incorporates dynamic strength and cardiovascular training with active recovery techniques targeting all major muscle groups. Sessions are intended to be learning experiences that constantly evolve, keeping each one challenging and fresh.

Lisa, a Lululemon Athletica Ambassador, has been a featured fitness expert onWebMDas well as inMy Family Doctor Magazine, LowCarb Magazine, Current Health Magazine, and Cornell University's Food & Fitness Advisor newsletter. In fact, Lisa is a regularly featured fitness expert on the KPIX Weekend Morning Show. Lisa is currently a contributing fitness expert on SingleMindedWomen.com.

Crunch With Leg Extension

Lisa Corsello

This is a great variation of crunches that specifically strengthens and targets the abdominal muscles. Having lower back problems? This exercise helps strengthen those problem areas as well, with no equipment needed!

  • Lie with your back flat against the floor with your knees bent.
  • Start by raising your knees to a 90-degree angle with your hand behind your head.
  • Breathe in while slowly bringing your knees to your chest using your abs and while keeping your lower back pressed against the floor. 
  • Slowly return your head to the floor and extend your legs out straight while breathing out.
  • Perform 20 crunches, alternating sides..

Boat Pose

Boat Pose
Lisa Corsello

This popular yoga pose strengthens the body's core, hips and spine. This pose can be hard to master, but practicing pays off. Benefits include a flatter belly and increased stamina. This exercise can even help indigestion since it stimulates the kidneys and intestines. 

To get into a boat pose, you must form your body into a V-shape.

  • Sit with your knees bent and slightly lifted off the floor.
  • Raise your arms forward and draw your abs in tight while lifting your chest.
  • Straighten your legs to form a V-shape and hold for 30 seconds while concentrating on even breathing. 

Lateral Step-Ups

Step Up
Lisa Corsello

Grab a stable chair or head to a park bench to perform this hip-strengthening exercise. To make the exercise easier, grab a shorter platform to work with, around four to five inches high. 

  • Stand with the bench to one side and place the foot closest to the bench on the seat.
  • Push down through that foot, standing up onto that leg until the leg is straight, then extend the opposite leg out to the side with your foot flexed, using your hip to lift the leg.
  • Slowly lower the leg, and bend the knee to come back down to the starting position.
  • Complete 10-15 reps then switch sides.

Side Plank Starfish

Lisa Corsello

Targeting your glutes and obliques, this challenging plank is worth the burn. Its tough to balance at first, but with practice, you will develop more stability and strength.

  • Start in a side plank position with your elbow under your shoulder.
  • Once balanced, stack one foot on top of the other and raise your arm into the air.
  • Next, lift your top leg and straighten it into the air. Stay for 5 breaths.
  • Complete 15 reps before repeating on the opposite side. 

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