5 Moves for a Strong Core

If I asked you to identify the biggest “trouble spot” on your body, what would you say?

I’ve had this conversation with countless people over the years. For those of you who are over under forty, 7 out of 10 of you would say that it’s your midsection. Whether it’s a muffin top or a lower-tummy pooch, chances are good that most of you would say your mid is what plagues you.

And for those of you over forty, the number goes up: For 9 out of 10 of you, your waist is the one.

Today’s routine includes the right mix of 5 core exercises that work together to tone the entire area from every angle, so you can have a strong, sleek, midsection. 

Heck, even the gods of Greek mythology were depicted as bellyfat-free; it’s clear that a trimmer tummy has been an prized goal by many cultures, for a long time. And while, there’s no denying that a flat stomach looks great, the health of our midsection—our core—is about something much more profound.

Our core is comprised of more than the abdominals we traditionally imagine. Here’s the bottom line: When we refer to our “core,” we’re referring not only to the abdominal muscles, but to the stabilizing muscles in our hips and in our lower back.

Our core is comprised of more than the abdominals we traditionally imagine. But here’s the bottom line…

When we refer to our “core,” we’re referring not only to the abdominal muscles, but to the stabilizing muscles in our hips and in our lower back. Our core encompasses 360 degrees of the midsection, and it does so much more than look great (or, as the case may be, not so great).

Our core is our body’s command center, emitting strength and vitality when its at optimal health, and warning signals when it’s not. For those moments, it’s the flashing light that lets us know when the rest of the body isn’t working together as a cohesive unit; more to the point, if your core is unhealthy, it will compromise the overall health of your entire system. Because It’s the place where all movement is initiated, and it’s the source of our bodies’ deepest powers. It’s the factor that determines whether we move freely and with ease, or whether we’re weighed down by aches and pains.

And, of course, this “command center” is also an area where we frequently collect extra fat—whether from hormonal changes brought on by aging, stress, or both. Once again, that extra flesh isn’t generally our favorite look, on a superficial level – but more importantly, it might just be the warning signal we need – the flashing light that’s letting us know something much more is going on. Among the most critical issues is the kind of fat you are accumulating in your midsection—most often “visceral fat,” which tends to surround the organs and leave us at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and, in women, breast cancer. 

Windshield Wipers

How to do it:

  1. Start on your back, with your hands on the floor for support and legs lifted up off the floor.
  2. Using your core muscles to support you and protect your lower back, keep your knees over your hips as you slowly drop both knees to the right side, forming a 45-degree angle with the floor.
  3. Then, fire up your obliques as you drive your knees back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the other side.


How to do it:

  1. Start lying on your back, with your arms reaching out overhead, legs lifted slightly off the floor, and toes pointed. Even here, at the start of the move, you’re activating core muscles by stretching them out. Keep pressing the lower back into the mat or floor to ensure the back doesn’t arch. If this feels like too much tension on the back, try lifting the legs a little further away from the floor.
  2. Imagine that, as you’re stretching the fingers and toes away from each other, the core is a strong magnet working to pull them back in. Using the force of that imaginary magnet, bring the knees in toward the chest. At the same time, reach your arms toward the legs.

Ceiling Stamp

How to do it:

  1. Lying on your back, squeeze your abdominals and lift your legs off the floor. Extend them up straight, feet facing the ceiling.
  2. With your hands on the floor for balance, use your lower abdominal strength to push your feet up 1-2 inches toward the ceiling (meaning your hips come 1-2 inches further away from the floor simultaneously). It’s a quick movement, almost a ˙pulse,” as if you’re stamping the ceiling with the bottom of your feet (hence the title).

Charlie’s Angels

How to do it:

  1. Sit upright with knees bent, feet on the floor, chest lifted. Lift your feet off the floor, tucking your knees into your chest. Interlace your fingers and point them forward.
  2. Using your obliques, swivel your knees side to side.


How to do it:

  1. Lying facedown on the floor with your arms and legs extended, lift your upper body and legs off the floor, making sure to keep your feet together.
  2. Without moving your shoulders or legs, use the strength of your abs to roll to your right side until your back is on the floor and you’re facing the ceiling. Remember, your hands and feet never touch the floor!
  3. Slowly roll back, keeping the belly button pulled in toward the spine throughout the entire movement.
  4. Aim for 10 repetitions on each side.