Quick Core Workout Routine

Core Workout Exercise 1: The Plank

Justin Lambert/Taxi/Getty Images

Core Exercise 1: The Plank

This quick core routine begins with the plank exercise. The plank provides a great warm-up that 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 15-60 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, by lifting your foot up and holding that position for 10 seconds and repeating on the opposite leg.

Core Workout Exercise 2: The Side Plank

Side Plank
side plank. Getty Images

Core Exercise 2: The Side Plank

The side plank engages the often-overlooked muscles that help support the 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 and keep the obliques and transverse abdominis strong.

Begin in the pictured position and keep your body stiff from head to toe. Hold the position 15-60 seconds while maintaining control, and be sure to do both sides!

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

Core Workout Exercise 3: The V-Sit Abdominal Exercise

V-Sit Abdominal Exercise
V-Sit Abdominal Exercise. photo (c) Stuart Gregory / Getty Images

Core Exercise 3: V-Sit Abdominal Exercise

The v-sit is an effective abdominal and core exercise that works the rectus abdominis, the 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.

Core Workout Exercise 4: The Bicycle Crunch

The Bicycle Crunch
The Bicycle Crunch. photo (c) E. Quinn

Core Exercise 4: The Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch exercise is one of the best exercises for the rectus abdominus and obliques, according to an abdominal exercise study done at San Diego State University.

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 as pictured. 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. Repeat 10-25 repetitions on each side.

Core Workout Exercise 7: Push Up Lat Row

Push Up with Lat Row Exercise
Push Up with Lat Row Exercise. (c) Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

Core Exercise 7: The Push Up Lat Row

I love combining the ultimate upper body and core exercise - the Push Up - with a a solid back exercise—the lat row. This variation of the push up adds a dumbbell row to the movement which not only increases 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 you will add a dumbbell row; raise one dumbbell while stabilizing your body with the other arm and lower the dumbbell gently to the ground and repeat another push up.

Core Workout Exercise 5: The Bridge Exercise

The Hip Bridge Exercise
The Hip Bridge Exercise. Photo (c) John Giustina / Getty Images

Core Exercise 5: The Hip Bridge Exercise

The hip bridge exercise isolates and strengthen the 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 considered a basic rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization.

Hold the position pictured above for 15-60 seconds while maintaining control. If you do the single leg bridge as well, be sure to do both sides!

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

Core Workout Exercise 6: The Single Leg Bridge Exercise

Single Leg Bridge Exercise
Single Leg Bridge Exercise. Hamish Blair / Getty Images

Core Exercise 6: The Single Leg Bridge Exercise

The single leg bridge exercise is the next step after you've mastered the bridge exercise. This move is a great way to isolate and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, but 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 so that you can hold this position 20 to 30 seconds while maintaining control. Be sure to do both sides.

Core Workout Exercise 8: Skip with Twist

David Beckham Warms Up
David Beckham Warms Up. Phil Cole / Getty Images

Core Exercise 8: The Skip with Twist Exercise

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

How to Do the Skip with a Twist Exercise

  • Find a level place with enough room for about 10 full forward strides.
  • Begin by slowly skipping forward 10 strides (5 per side), stop and turn around.
  • For each return skip, gradually add more intensity and a larger twist to your strides.
  • Continue to add a full arm swing and drive your knees a bit higher.
  • Finally, add the torso twist as soccer icon David Beckham demonstrates in the photo. 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 this exercise.