3 Must-Try Core Exercises

Aug 18, 2023

The information in this blog was provided by our Master Trainer, Karli Johnson, at O2 Fitness Clubs Friendly Center location in Greensboro, North Carolina. Click here to book your first complimentary session with Karli or any of our other exercise experts!


You don't have to rely on crunches and planks as your only way to get the strong core you want. When it comes to building core strength, you need to incorporate a variety of movements that target different aspects of core strength.

So now it's time to switch up your boring, old ab workout and start training your core in each direction (flexion, extension, rotation, lateral flexion.) By resisting these movements, you'll strengthen your core like never before!

In this blog, we've got three trainer-approved core exercises for you to add to your routine, so you can start seeing the results you want from your workouts.

1. Pallof Press with Rotation

This is a phenomenal core exercise because the press teaches anti-rotation while the turn in the opposite direction trains spine and core rotation. For this variation, you'll want to think about rotating above the hips to train trunk rotation separately from hip rotation.

How To Do a Pallof Press with Rotation:

  1. Raise the cable attachment or attach a resistance band to a stationary anchor point at chest height. 
  2. Stand at a right angle to the anchor point, and hold the resistance band or attachment handle with both hands close to your chest.
  3. Take a few steps away from the anchor point to create tension. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  4. Engage your core to stabilize your lower body, then extend your arms straight out in front of you. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows.
  5. Slowly rotate your upper body away from the anchor point while keeping your hips and lower body facing forward.
  6. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

2. Turkish Sit-Up

Another fundamental movement to train for a strong core is spine flexion and extension. Holding the kettlebells overhead, this move has the extra element of training shoulder stability. Plus, it increases the difficulty of the standard sit-up. This exercise challenges your core muscles and improves shoulder stability and coordination, making it a fantastic choice for functional core training.

How To Do a Turkish Sit-Up:

  1. Lie on your back with a kettlebell in one or both hands with your arms extended toward the ceiling.
  2. Bend the knee on the same side as the kettlebell, placing the foot flat on the floor.
  3. With the opposite arm extended to the side, sit up while pushing the kettlebell toward the ceiling.
  4. As you sit up, imagine placing one vertebra on the floor at a time.
  5. Reverse the movement to lower yourself back down to the starting position.
  6. Complete the desired reps on one side before switching to the other.

Karli's Pro Tips: "As you sit up, you'll want to focus on pushing the kettlebells straight up toward the ceiling. Then, focus on keeping control during the eccentric (lowering) motion by imagining that you're lowering down to the floor one vertebra at a time!"

3. Copenhagen Side Plank with Hip Lift

The third fundamental movement to train your core is lateral flexion. This exercise strengthens your core by using lateral flexion to target your obliques. By lifting your hips in this plank position, the obliques on the lower side of your body work dynamically to help lift the weight of your hips, increasing your stability and strength in your core and throughout your lower body.

How To Do a Copenhagen Side Plank with Hip Lift:

  1. Lie on your side with your elbow directly under your shoulder and your legs extended.
  2. Place your top foot on a bench or platform at hip height.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your head to your heels.
  4. Lower your hips slightly and then lift them higher, engaging your obliques.
  5. For an added challenge, extend your bottom leg and place your ankle on the bench, stacking your feet.
  6. Repeat on the other side after completing the desired reps.

Karli's Pro Tip: "Increase the difficulty of this movement by doing it with legs fully extended and ankles on the bench."

Need More Motivation to Do a Core-Specific Workout?

A strong core is our foundation for doing many different everyday activities successfully, from lifting heavy objects to sitting with proper posture.

By adding these three must-try core exercises into your workout routine, you'll effectively train your core in all directions —flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion. These functional movements enhance your core's ability to stabilize and support your body in different directions.

Remember, a well-rounded core workout isn't just about doing countless crunches. So, whether your goal is a stronger core, improving your balance, or just training to improve how you feel doing everyday movements, these core exercises have got you covered!

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