When you think of core exercises, what are the first exercises that come to mind?

Crunches? Sit-ups? 

A lot has changed over the past several years when it comes to training your core and for good reason. 

The days of endless sit-ups are over as there is a better, more efficient way to train your abs while reducing your risk of getting hurt.

The majority (80-90%) of your ab training should not be done to produce motion, seen with old-school exercises like crunches, but instead to resist motion.

This is the true role of our abs -- to resist motion and keep our lumbar (lower) spine stable. 

Think about the last time you picked up a heavy suitcase or bag. Without even thinking about it, your abs fired to stabilize your trunk so when you picked up the heavy object you didn't fall over, side-bend or get injured. 

Our abs work to prevent us from:

  1. Arching too far backwards (anti-extension)
  2. Rotating too far side-to-side (anti-rotation) 
  3. Side-bending (anti-lateral flexion)

By focusing on the three areas above, you will be training your abs and core to be more functional both inside and outside of the gym. 

On top of that, you will build a strong, stable set of abs to protect your low back.

Let's get into 9 of our favorite core exercises!

Enjoy :) 

#1 Front Plank (anti-extension)


The key to a strong core is having a strong foundation. The front plank should be the foundation of everyone's core training. It is a great way to teach and ingrain proper position so you are prepared for more advanced core exercises down the road. Make these more challenging by increasing the duration of the hold or by adding weight to your back. 

Key Points

  • Start on elbows with fists directly under your eyes
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :15-:30 holds/side

#2 Stir the Pot (anti-extension/rotation)

Here is a great way to increase the difficulty of the front plank. The instability of being on the ball plus the arm movement makes these a fantastic ab exercise!

Key Points

  • Start with forearms on ball and fists directly under eyes
  • Feet should be wider than shoulder width
  • Keep glutes squeezed and hips tucked under
  • Stay tall by keeping chest away from ball
  • Without moving your body, slowly make small circles with just your arms
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps/side

#3 Wall Dead-Bug (anti-extension)

One of the most important areas to strengthen is your abs. Strong abs are crucial for injury prevention (especially at your low-back) and improving performance. Because the abs attach to the spine, pelvis and rib cage, strong abs are not only for looks. They are a big part of core, hip and rib cage stability as well as posture and total-body strength.


Key Points

  • Start on back with hands on wall
  • Press and keep low back into floor
  • Keeping back flat, reach one leg out front
  • Hold this position as you exhale long and slow
  • Return to starting position and switch side
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5 reps/leg

#4 Double Racked KB Carries (anti-extension)

We love carries at Dynamic. Think of them as walking, weighted planks. Your body wants to twist and sag but you need to use your abs to hold perfect, upright position. These not only work your abs but get that heart rate up! 

Key Points

  • Start with 2 kettlebells in racked position under chin
  • Make sure wrists are straight, not bent back
  • Hold upright posture throughout
  • Keep abs braced and front of rib cage down
  • You should feel abs working throughout
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 30-50yd carries

#5 Landmine Rotations (anti-rotation)

The landmine rotation is a hidden gem and is a great way to build the strength of that trouble spot -- your obliques (lateral abs). By rotating the bar to the right and left side of your body, your lateral abs are forced to work extremely hard to keep your spine and body stable. You will feel these the next day!  The bar motion during this movement should resemble tracing the numbers on a clock. The bar starts at 12 o’clock, moves right to 2 or 3 o’clock, back to 12 o’clock and left to 9 or 10 o’clock.

Key Points

  • Start standing with knees slightly bent, abs braced
  • Place bar at your chest and press it out so arms go straight (12 o’clock)
  • With no body movement bring bar to the right (2 or 3 o’clock)
  • Your right arm should bend slightly, while keeping left straight
  • Return to starting position (12 o’clock)
  • Move bar to left (9 or 10 o’clock)
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps/side

#6 Anti-Rotation Chop (anti-rotation)

The anti-rotation chop is another favorite for the lateral abs or obliques. By rotating the rope and only moving the arms, your abs have to work double time to keep your low-back and spine from twisting. This is a favorite for rotational athletes like golfers and baseball players.

Key Points

  • Start in balanced, athletic position
  • Hold rope on each end with arms straight
  • Without twisting, bring rope across body
  • Keep the motion small
  • Return to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps/side 

#7 Side Plank (anti-lateral flexion)

If the front plank is the foundation of your core training, the side plank is the framework. These are a great exercise to work on position and build some seriously strong lateral abs and shoulders. 

Key Points

  • Start on side with elbow directly under shoulder
  • Keep hips squared and high 
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth 
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

#8 Tall-Kneeling Landmine Press (anti-lateral flexion)

The landmine press is a fantastic exercise that challenges the entire upper body. The pressing motion works your tricep, grip and shoulder strength. By holding the weight on one side, your lateral abs work hard to keep you upright and prevent lateral bending. Bye, bye to the days of weighted side bends.

Key Points

  • Place one end of barbell in landmine holder or corner of wall
  • Start on two knees with glutes tight and stomach braced
  • Hold one end of barbell just above shoulder height
  • Without twisting press barbell up overhead
  • To increase difficulty, add weight to bar
  • To decrease difficulty, perform the exercise standing
  • Staring with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps/side

#9 Suitcase Carry (anti-lateral flexion)

Talk about functional! You are going to crush it next time you're holding a heavy suitcase or the groceries.The weight on one side wants to pull and twist you but you need to stabilize your shoulders, core and abs to resist and keep a good position. These also make a great addition to your cardio circuits!

Key Points

  • Start with KB or DB in one hand with tight grip
  • Keep shoulders back and stomach braced
  • Do not let weight touch your leg or side
  • Keep posture upright 
  • You should feel oblique on opposite side of weight
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 25-40yd walks/side

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