Strengthening your core is a great way to improve overall strength, tone your torso, and achieve your health and fitness goals. Whether you’re just getting started or wanting to add to the yoga classes you’re already doing, these are the best core exercises for women to start incorporating into your daily workouts.
And you don’t have to jump right into cardio routines to get the core workout you want!
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Instead, try yoga poses and other exercises to work your core within your current exercise routine. Here are some great core exercises that you can do at home as voted on by our class leaders.
1) Plank Variations
Forearm plank: Rest on your forearms instead of on your hands with straight arms. A good variation for beginners!
Side plank: While keeping your spine straight (as you would for a standard plank), lift one hand up and turn your body so that you are facing the side instead of the floor. Stack your top foot on your bottom foot and stretch your free arm up toward the ceiling. Be sure to focus on pulling your navel toward your spine, just as you would in a standard plank.
Plank leg raise: Begin in a standard plank (arms straight). Slowly lift one leg, keeping your hips parallel to the ground. Lower the leg back to the floor, then lift the other leg slowly. Start with about ten reps for each leg.
2) Bicycle Crunch
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your heels in front of you. Lace your fingers behind your head and lift your head slightly so you can see your legs/feet. Be sure not to bring your chin too close to your chest. Your elbows should be out to the sides.
- On an exhale, extend your left leg straight and twist your torso so that your left elbow reaches your right knee. Bring your left leg back up and simultaneously extend your right leg. As you do this, twist the other way so your right elbow reaches your left knee to complete one rep.
- Complete step 2 approximately 20 times for one set.
There are two types of boat poses in yoga: low and high.
- High Boat Pose: Start in a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. Hold your hands toward your legs. Lean back (keeping your back straight) and lift your feet, keeping your legs straight until your body is in a V-shaped position with your arms parallel to the floor. Hold this position as you would a plank.
- Low Boat Pose: Begin in a corpse pose, lying flat on your back with your arms and legs straight. Keeping your back and legs straight, lift your torso and legs until your feet are about six inches off the floor. Keep your arms straight toward your feet and parallel to the ground. Hold this position as you would a plank.
Locust pose is similar to the low boat pose, but you start on your stomach. While laying flat on your stomach with your arms and legs straight, lift your torso, arms, and legs off the ground. You may find it easier to have your feet shoulder-width apart during this pose.
5) Half Moon
- Begin in mountain pose, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.
- Turn to the left and step so your feet are wide, extending your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height. Turn your right foot 90 degrees and your left foot slightly inward. Your front heel should align with the arch of your back foot.
- Reach your right hand in the same direction as your right foot. Fold sideways at the hip, resting your hand on your knee, shin, or ankle for support. You may also rest your hand on the floor. Your shoulders should be stacked.
- Rest your left hand on your left hip. Bend your right knee and step your left foot forward 6-12 inches. Bring your right fingertips to the floor in front of your right foot.
- Lift your left leg as you straighten your right knee, bringing your left leg parallel to the floor. If you can, bring your leg up so that your foot is higher than your hip.
- When you’re ready, extend your left arm and twist your torso so your left fingertips are pointed toward the sky.
- To release the pose, lower your left leg, then lift your torso and lower your arms. Turn to the left, reverse the position of your feet, and repeat the steps on the other side.
6) Warrior III
- From Warrior I, press your weight into your right foot.
- Lift your left leg and lower your torso until your body is parallel to the ground. Your arms should also be parallel to the ground.
- Hold the pose for about 30 seconds, then slowly return to Warrior I before repeating the process by lifting your right leg.
7) Floating Triangle
- From Warrior II, straighten your bent leg until both legs are straight.
- Lean your torso over your front leg, keeping your spine and arms straight.
- Lower your arm to rest on your front shin or ankle, extending your other arm toward the sky.
- Hold this pose for approximately 30 seconds, then return to an upright position. Shift the position of your feet to do the floating triangle on the other side.
8) Chair Pose
- Stand in Mountain Pose. Place your hands on your hips. On an exhale, bend your knees as if you are moving to sit in a chair. Bend your knees as much as you can while maintaining your stability.
- Raise your arms over your head. Stay in this position for approximately 30 seconds.
Add These Core Exercises to Your Workout Routine
Whether you’re new to core exercises or ready to take your core workout to the next level, these exercises are great for an at-home fitness routine.
Just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge difference! You’ll be well on your way to achieving your health and fitness goals.
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