8 Best Deep Core Exercises for Strength and Stability

Strengthening your deep core is crucial for overall fitness and daily activities. Your deep core muscles include the transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor muscles.

These muscles provide stability, improve posture, and support your body during exercise and everyday movements. Engaging in deep core exercises helps target these muscles effectively, enhancing your body’s strength and stability.

What Is Your Deep Core?

Woman with Defined Core Muscles

Your deep core consists of several important muscles:

  • Transverse abdominis: The deepest abdominal muscle.
  • Multifidus: A back muscle that stabilizes the spine.
  • Diaphragm: A large muscle below the lungs aiding in breathing.
  • Pelvic Floor: Supports the bladder, uterus, small intestine, and rectum.

These muscles are part of your total core, which includes your obliques, rectus abdominis, and glutes. Exercises focusing on stability and anti-rotation, like planks or renegade rows, engage these muscles, offering functional benefits beyond just exercise stability. Improved posture, reduced back pain, reduced risk of injury, and better overall balance are some of these benefits.

These deep core exercises are also good for postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis (after six months About 40% of those who have diastasis recti still have it).

8 Deep Core Exercises to Try

8. Mountain Climbers

A Man Performing Mountain Climbers Exercise to Enhance Deep Core Strength

Tips

  • Maintain a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Engage your core throughout the exercise.

Benefits: Targets deep core, provides a cardiovascular workout and improves coordination.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 45-60 seconds.

Avoid Injury

  • Keep movements controlled.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag or arching your back.

7. Russian Twist

A Woman Doing Russian Twists to Build Deep Core Strength

Tips

  • Keep your back straight.
  • Engage your core and twist from the waist.

Benefits: Targets deep core, obliques, and improves rotational stability.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps per side.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps per side.

Avoid Injury

  • Avoid slouching.
  • Keep movements controlled and deliberate.

6. Dead Bug

Tips

  • Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Coordinate breathing with movement.

Benefits: Engages deep core, obliques, hip flexors, shoulders, and back.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps per side.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps per side.

Avoid Injury

  • Keep lower back pressed to the floor.
  • Move slowly and control your movements.

5. Bird Dog

A Man Performing the Bird Dog Core-Strengthening Exercise

Tips

  • Keep a neutral spine.
  • Engage your deep core throughout.

Benefits: Improves balance, core stability, and engages hamstrings and obliques.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps per side.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps per side.

Avoid Injury

  • Avoid arching your back.
  • Focus on balance and stability.

4. Palloff Press

A Man Performing the Palloff Press to Build Deep Core Strength

Tips

  • Maintain tension on the band.
  • Keep your core engaged.

Benefits: Targets deep core and obliques.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.

Avoid Injury

  • Perform movements slowly.
  • Maintain control and stability.

3. Plank Variations

Tips

  • Keep your body in a straight line.
  • Engage your core throughout.

Benefits: Engages deep core, shoulders, glutes, obliques, and adductors.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 30-45 seconds.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 60-90 seconds.

Avoid Injury

  • Maintain proper form.
  • Avoid sagging hips or arching your back.

2. Stability Ball Rollouts

A Man Performing Stability Ball Rollouts Exercise

Tips

  • Maintain a strong plank position.
  • Roll slowly and control the movement.

Benefits: Targets deep core, obliques, lats, traps, and lower back stabilizers.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.

Avoid Injury

  • Keep your core engaged.
  • Avoid rolling too far back.

1. Hollow Body Hold

A Man Performing the Hollow Body Hold for Core Strength

Tips

  • Maintain a connection between your back and the ground.
  • Engage your deep core throughout.

Benefits: Targets deep core, hip flexors, quads, and traps.

Optimal Sets and Reps

  • Beginners: 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds.
  • Advanced: 3-4 sets of 45-60 seconds.

Avoid Injury

  • Keep your lower back pressed to the floor.
  • Avoid holding your breath.

Targeting Your Deep Core

Deep Core Muscles

Targeting your deep core takes practice to feel the connection with these specific muscles. Warm-ups that engage your deep core prepare you for workouts. Isolation exercises like hollow body holds or dead bugs effectively tap into your transverse abdominis, multifidus, and diaphragm.

Heather Milton, senior exercise physiologist at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center, recommends using your warm-up to engage your deep core and incorporating Kegels and breathing exercises for better pelvic floor activation.

If connecting with your deep core is challenging, working with a physical therapist and incorporating Kegels and breathing exercises can help.

HERE you have more about the current literature on electromyographic (EMG) activity of six core muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, lumbar multifidus, and erector spinae) during physical fitness exercise in healthy adults.

Benefits of Deep Core Exercises

Deep core exercises offer numerous benefits:

  • Improved Posture: Better alignment and reduced back pain.
  • Enhanced Athletic Performance: Stability for efficient movement and heavy lifting.
  • Better Breathing Control: Improved aerobic capacity.
  • Reduced Injury Risk: Balanced muscle engagement reduces injury chances.
  • Better Bladder Control: Enhanced pelvic floor support.

As Ms. Milton notes, deep core exercises “contribute to better breathing control and aerobic capacity, reduced injury risk during activities, and better bladder control.”

Dr. Celeste Compton emphasizes the importance of deep core exercises for overall stability and injury prevention.

How Often to Do Deep Core Exercises

A Man Performing a Side Plank for Core Strength

Building a connection with your deep core muscles takes time. Start with slow, controlled movements and focus on your breathing. Visualize the muscles you’re working. Aim to include deep core exercises in your routine two to three times a week, alongside ankle mobility exercises for improved movement.

Consistency is key to seeing results. Ms. Milton advises slowing down and focusing on muscle engagement, while Dr. Compton suggests maintaining proper form to prevent injury.

Conclusion

Deep core exercises are essential for strengthening your core muscles, improving stability, and enhancing overall fitness. They reduce back pain, improve posture, and offer numerous functional benefits. Incorporate these exercises into your regular workout routine for the best results.

Combining core exercises with targeted leg workouts can help in achieving thicker thighs.

Remember to maintain proper form and engage your core throughout each exercise. With consistency and dedication, you’ll see significant improvements in your core strength and stability. A strong core and TVA have been shown to decrease back pain, improve your balance, reduce the risk of injury, and positively impact your posture and breathing.

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