Four Core Exercises from a Campus Recreation Personal Trainer

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Core exercises are an integral part of any well-rounded fitness program. Did you know you have been working on your core since you were just a baby?  Core exercises, train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen to work in harmony. This can lead to better balance and stability both in the gym and outside of it. Don’t believe us? Check out why Campus Recreation (CRC) ACE certified personal trainer, Jacqueline Alexander always incorporates core in her workout plans!

Why are core strength training exercises important to incorporate into your workout routine?

 Honestly, there are very few exercises that completely eliminate the use of your core. If you are exercising at all, you are by default strengthening your core. Core muscles include, but are not limited to, the rectus abdomens, external oblique’s, internal oblique’s, transverse abdomens, erector spinae, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, and some may consider the psoas and latissimus dorsi to be included in this essential group. 

If you are regularly active, you are already maintaining a base level of core strength you have developed over your life so far. Adding targeted core strengthening exercises to your workout routine will allow you to safely make gains when weightlifting, doing cardo, and even stretching. Core strength training exercises can also help you overcome plateaus and boredom in your workout routine.

Why is core strength so important?

 Every movement you make requires the engagement of deep core muscles to support your spine, correct your posture, and maintain your balance. 

Where should someone with a weak core start?

 Before babies learn to crawl, they learn to engage core muscles in the posterior chain that allow them to lift and support their heads, prop themselves up using their arms, and eventually press themselves up into a tabletop position to prepare for crawling. I recommend a person new to core strengthening start on their bellies. "Sphinx Pose" in yoga is a gentle beginning. Progress to "Cobra Pose". As you build strength in the spine (and flexibility in the opposing muscle group), you will feel ready for "Up Dog," which is a more advanced yoga posture. Move into and out of these posture in a controlled manner - ideally with your breath. For example, inhale lift up, exhale lower down. (The are many pictures that show these posture if you Google them)

You may also feel comfortable building core strength in tabletop (on hands and knees). "Bird dogs" are great for building strength in the oblique’s and lower back. To do a set of these, start by extending one leg behind you. Lift the leg so that it is parallel to the ground. Lift the opposite arm so that it is also parallel to the ground. When you feel steady, exhale and bring your elbow and knee toward each other as you round your back. Inhale as you reach the arm and leg back out to the start position. Repeat 10 times or until you feel tired and then switch sides.

What are 4-5 core exercises everyone should incorporate into their workout routine?

 Superman Lifts - this exercise strengthens the core muscles in the posterior chain, which are foundational for good posture

 1.) Lay on your belly with your forehead resting on the ground (you can place a towel under your head to create space, so you can breath). Bring your arms out to the sides or up overhead lightly resting the fingers on the ground. Completely relax.

 2.) Inhale as you prepare to lift. Squeeze the legs together, engage the glutes and hamstrings, and lift the fingertips off the floor. 

 3.) Exhale as you lift everything off the floor while balancing on your pelvis. 

 4.) Inhale lower. Exhale lift. Repeat 5-10 times.

 5.) Rest. Optionally stretch in child’s pose.

Superman Rolls - this exercise strengthens the same muscles groups as Superman Lifts. It also strengthens the obliques.

 1.) Follow steps 1-3 above.

 2.) Inhale as you roll to one side keeping the arms and legs lifted off the floor.

 3.) Exhale back to center. Inhale as you roll over to the other side. Exhale back to center.

 4.) Roll from side to side in a controlled manner without letting your arms and legs touch the ground 5-10 times.

 5.) Rest. Optionally stretch in child’s pose

Plank Holds - a stability exercise that strengthens transverse abs and obliques.

 1.) Start in tabletop (on your hands and knees)

 2.) Straighten one leg behind you. As you shift your weight into the leg you just straightened, straighten the other leg behind you as well.

 3.) Separate your feet about shoulders width distance apart to make it easier to balance.

4.) Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Rest for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

5.) Rest. Optionally stretch and "shake out" your wrists.

V-sit Holds - one of my favorites, strengthens transverse abs, obliques, psoas, and rectus abs.

 1.) Sit on the floor (a mat will offer some cushion for your tailbone) with your back towards a wall if possible. Leave a few feet between your tailbone and the wall.

 2.) Bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor.

 3.) Grab behind your thighs as you lean back and lift your feet off the floor.

 4.) Balance on your tailbone. The wall is behind you if you need to rest the back of your head on it for support.

 5.) If you want to challenge yourself, release your hold on the back of your legs and reach your arms forward, parallel to the floor.

 6.) Hold for 30-60 seconds. Rest for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

7.) Rest. Stretch in sphinx pose or cobra pose.

What benefits can personal trainers bring to building core strength?

Personal Trainers can offer variety and creativity to a core strengthening routine. We can also check your form to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly along with spotting you during difficult exercises to keep you safe. Personal trainers also offer benchmark testing and track your progress, so you know how effective your routine is.

The CRC is proud to offer an extensive personal training program to the Georgia Tech community. If you are interested in not only finding new core workouts but having personalized workouts to help you reach any fitness goal personal training may be right for you! You can chose from individual, buddy or group training sessions. Go to to read more about our personal training program.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Christine Kapurch
  • Created:03/11/2019
  • Modified By:Christine Kapurch
  • Modified:03/11/2019