When you think of a strong core, do you think of a lean stomach and six-pack abs? If so, the truth is that having a six-pack doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong, well-rounded core. 

While a six-pack has more to do with your body fat than core strength, the muscles that make up a six-pack are only one part of the core.

This article will explain what makes up the human core, what the benefits of having a strong core are, and give you some core strengthening exercises that you can do at home.

Now let’s get right to the core of things.

What Exactly Is the Core?

The core is a group of muscles in the trunk of the body that move and stabilize the spine and pelvis. These muscles include the external and deep abdominal muscles, obliques, back muscles, glutes, and hip flexors. The pelvic floor and diaphragm can also be considered part of the core, as they play a key role in providing support in the abdomen.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Strong Core?

The benefits of having a strong core include injury prevention, reduction of back pain, improved lifting mechanics, balance, stability, and posture, as well as improved athletic performance. 

The Benefits of a Strong Core

1. Injury Prevention

One of the most important benefits of a strong core is injury prevention. These injuries can be caused by everyday tasks like shoveling snow, taking out the trash, or reaching into the bottom drawer to get out that pot you rarely use. Maintaining a strong core can help you avoid all types of injuries, including muscle strains, joint sprains, disk protrusions, and even fractured or bruised bones. 

Check out lululemon Studio’s workouts and start strengthening your core with a variety of workouts. Try Arms + Abs or Strength: Total Body for core-blasting exercises.

2. Reduces Back Pain

Having strong core muscles creates a system of support for your spine. Everyday movements like household chores can cause back pain if this support system can’t meet the demands of those activities. Vacuuming, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and even gardening can aggravate your back if you have weak core muscles.

Whether you are someone who experiences back pain from an old injury, your line of work, repetitive movements, or simply sleeping funny one night, a strong core goes a long way in preventing or reducing back pain in day-to-day life.

3. Improved Balance and Stability

Having good balance and stability is essential in everyday life. Walking down a set of stairs, getting dressed, or walking on slippery or icy surfaces challenge your balance and stability. 

With good core strength, you approach all of life’s obstacles from a place of sturdiness and security, while avoiding injury from slips and falls.

4. Improved Posture

“Stop slouching!” You’ve probably heard this at one point or another in your lifetime. Poor posture is a result of weakened muscles—especially in the core. 

Think of your body like a stack of coins. If they are out of alignment, there is more strain to stay upright, but when they are stacked evenly, there is less strain and they are more likely to stay upright. 

Strengthening the core muscles improves posture by maintaining the spine’s natural curvature and pelvis’ neutral alignment. With a strong core supporting good posture, your body is in alignment with less strain placed on supporting structures like muscles, ligaments, and disks. 

Better posture even makes for easier breathing during exertion. With proper posture, the lungs have more room to expand—and proper breathing mechanics lead to better core stability.

5. Improved Lifting Efficiency

Whether it’s lifting groceries, kids, pets, or Amazon packages, we lift more in our daily lives than we think—not just while working out. When we lift objects, the core provides rigidity to the spine to prevent excessive strain on the muscles, ligaments, and disks. With strong core muscles, you can lift objects more efficiently, reducing the risk of injury. 

Pro tip: When lifting objects, hinge at the hips with your knees bent, keeping your core engaged, spine straight, and heels planted. Maintain this proper form and do not curve or arch your back when lifting.

6. Athletic Performance

If you play any sort of recreational sport, maintaining a strong core will help you perform at your peak. Athletic movements such as running, jumping, kicking, and dancing all require energy transfer between the upper and lower body that flows through the core.

Take kickboxing, for example. When you throw a jab, the majority of the power should be generated in your lower body. With strong core muscles, it allows you to transfer that energy from your lower body into your upper body efficiently. 

Whether you’re an athlete or recreational fitness enthusiast, regular exercise connects yourself to a better you. Sign up for the lululemon Studio newsletter to get expert fitness tips straight to your inbox.

Core Exercises to Build a Strong Core at Home

Effective core training can be done at home with little to no equipment. These core strength training exercises will work your obliques, your back, and your rectus and transversus abdominis muscles to build a strong, happy core.

1. Dead Bug

  1. Lay on your back with your feet off the ground, knees at 90 degrees, and hands reaching for the sky.
  2. Brace your core.
  3. Drop one hand and opposite foot towards the floor in a controlled manner while inhaling.
  4. Exhale as you return to the starting position.
  5. Alternate sides.

Pro tip: Press your low back towards the floor to keep your pelvis from tipping forward and your low back from arching.

2. Plank With Shoulder Tap

  1. Start in a push-up position with your back flat and your core engaged.
  2. Lift one hand off the ground and touch the opposite shoulder without shifting your spine or hips.
  3. Alternate hands.

Pro tip: Squeeze your glutes and feel your legs engage to help keep your hips square to the ground

3. Half-Kneeling Woodchopper with Dumbbell

  1. Start in a half-kneeling position with one knee on the ground and the other knee at 90 degrees in front of you.
  2. With a small to medium weighted dumbbell, bring the weight from your hip to the opposite shoulder in an arching (chopping) motion without rotating your trunk.
  3. Exhale as you lift, inhale as you lower.
  4. Repeat on both sides.

Pro tip: Press your front foot firmly into the ground and squeeze your glutes to feel your core engage more

4. Bird Dog

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your back flat.
  2. Engage your core.
  3. Lift one hand and opposite leg at the same time without twisting your spine or shifting your hips.
  4. Alternate sides.

Pro tip: Push your hand into the floor to help feel the crossbody connection to the opposite leg. Think of reaching out and in front of you as opposed to up to the sky.

Build a Strong Core at Home With lululemon Studio

lululemon Studio offers a wide range of live and on-demand workout classes and connections to an online fitness community that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Browse our Arms + Abs, Strength: Total Body, and Sculpt classes for core-blasting exercises. 

Develop a strong, well-rounded core with lululemon Studio. Become a lululemon Studio Member today and get FREE access to our library of over 10,000 classes and over 60 workout categories for 30 days.