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June 22, 2021

Core Exercises for Men and Women – What Are the Best ?

Your core muscles are the power base of your body. They provide the pivot between your upper and lower body and are essential to every strength, power and agility movement that you make. Keeping them strong and well developed should be a priority for all of us. In this article, we’ll provide a complete core workout for men and women that includes core exercises for working the rectus abdominis, lower back, intercostals and obliques.

Should Men and Women Do The Same Core Workout?

Despite what you see all over the internet, men and women should train the same way the majority of the time. After all, when it comes to our musculature, we are from the same planet! There are some differences in the chest where women have cooper’s ligaments to support breast tissue. But apart from that the muscles have the same shape, origin and attachment points and muscle fiber direction. Men and women do have a tendency to store body fat in different areas but that has nothing to do with resistance training. As a result, men and women should do the same workout for most areas of the body, including the core.

What is the Core?

The core is the belt of muscles that track around your midsection. Their job is to support your back, spine, hips, pelvis and glutes, provide rotation, extension and flexion of the upper body. The key muscles of the core are:

  • The rectus abdominis
  • The obliques
  • The erector spinae
  • The intercostals

The Best Core Exercises  for Men and Women

Cable Crunch

  • Position a back supported bench a few feet in front of a cable pulley machine.
  • Set the cable in line with your shoulders when you are sitting on the bench.
  • Put a rope handle on the end of the cable.
  • Now sit on the seat and hold the cable just above your head.
  • Crunch down to bring your elbows toward your knees.

Bird Dog

  • Get down on all fours on your knees to assume a tabletop position, keeping a flat back.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles and pull your shoulder blades together.
  • Simultaneously extend your right arm and your left leg so that they are parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for a count of four and then slowly return to the start position.

Superman

  • Lie face down on an exercise mat with your body in an arched position so that your arms and feet are extended off the ground.
  • Now arch up to full extension to bring your arms and feet up as high as possible.
  • Lower and repeat.

Seated Back Flexion

  • Sitting on a low box (or equivalent), keep your knees wide and with you fists on the floor or if you have a bench sit at the end of it with knees together and your hands in front of your chest
  • Round your mid back as you bend forward to bring your elbows down to your knees.
  • Arch back upwards to return to the starting position, flexing your lower back muscles as you do so.

 

Obliques + Kickbacks

  • Position yourself face down on an exercise mat in a top push up position, resting on your palms and toes.
  • Raise your hips to form a ‘V’ position with your body. Now bring you left knee down and through to your chest area.
  • From here kick back the leg to full extension. That is one rep. Perform all of your reps on one leg and then repeat with the other.

 

Flutter

  • Lie on an exercise mat on your back with legs extended and arms under your tailbone. Look down at your feet as you bring your feet off the ground.
  • Now hinge at your hips to bring your straightened legs up and down alternately. Keep your feet off the floor at all times. Have you abs contracted throughout the exercise.

Torso Rotation

  • Stand up straight with your legs together and hold yours hands out straight palms down in front of you at shoulder height (hands touching).
  • Pivot at the hips to twist your torso way to the right and then return to the start position.
  • Then twist your torso to the left and then again return to the start position.
  • Repeat this and aim for 10 twists on each side.

 

Cable Side Bends

  • Set a single cable pulley to hip height.
  • Stand side on to the pulley about four feet away from it, holding the cable handle in the hand that is closest to the machine. Your feet should be wide apart.
  • Pivot at the hip to bend your torso away from the machine.
  • Return to the start position and repeat.

 

Crunches (Legs High)

  • Sit on the end of a bench or seat with your hands supporting you behind your body and your feet extended at a 45 degree angle. For those that need support to hold their legs at a 45 degree angle use a support like a jumping box
  • Lean back and lift your legs until they are parallel with your torso.
  • Where those that can and not using a jumping box, bring your knees up toward your torso as you crunch your abdominals
  • Kick your legs back to the start position. Do not round your lower back. That is one rep.

Home Beginner Core Workout

  • Crunches (Legs High) – 3 x 20
  • Bird Dog – 3 x 15
  • Superman – 3 x 15

Home Intermediate Core Workout

  • Crunches (Legs High) – 3 x 25
  • Flutter – 3 x 15
  • Obliques + Kickbacks – 3 x 15
  • Seated Back Flexion – 3 x 20

Gym Beginner Core Workout

  • Cable Crunches – 3 x 20
  • Cable Side Bends – 3 x 20
  • Torso Rotation – 3 x 20

 

Gym Intermediate Core Workout

  • Cable Crunches – 4 x 25
  • Cable Side Bends – 4 x 20
  • Obliques + Kickbacks – 3 x 15
  • Torso Rotation – 3 x 20
  • Superman – 3 x 20
  • Seated Back Flexion – 3 x 20

Core Stabilization Workout

As the link between your upper and lower body, the core is your functional power base. It is also responsible for midline stabilization. Here is an extra core workout you can do once per week to enhance core stabilization.

Two-Leg Bridge

  • With your back on the floor, keep both knees bent and your feet flat on the ground at shoulder width. Perform a light tuck of your pelvis, making your lower back flat and depressing your lower ribs. Focus on holding this posture.
  • Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up while pressing down through your heels. Stop when you feel like you are unable to control your hips. The height is not important with this exercise, so do not try to go too high.
  • When this is well-controlled, add a resistance band to your knees; make sure that your knees stay as wide as your feet. Hold the top position for two to three seconds with each repetition.

Bridge Progression

A bridge is designed to improve activation and strength of the glutes while focusing on stabilization of the core. Pay close attention to control of your pelvis, lumbar spine, and rib cage to maintain a neutral core posture. Keep your arms at your side with your hands flat on the ground. Applying light pressure through your hands into the ground will help to increase core stabilization. Perform two to four sets of ten to fifteen repetitions. Increase the intensity by using a higher-level resistance band as tolerated. A bridge can be made more challenging by using a more unstable ball, such as a smaller medicine ball or something firmer like a basketball.

Foot Walk-Outs

  • Perform a plank from your elbows and feet.
  • Slowly walk your feet apart by performing slow alternating steps, about six inches each time.
  • Stop the walk-out when your feet are a comfortable width apart. Focus on squeezing your glute to lift the leg that you are moving. Make sure your lower back does not dip as the leg is in the air.
  • When your feet are apart, slowly walk them back together.

To Conclude

You now have the core exercises for women and core exercise for men to follow based on many years of a personal trainers experience. Try these out and let us know the results !

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Steve (Qualfied Personal Trainer and Nutritionist)


Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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