A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

Get a strong and stable core with this 6-exercise circuit inspired by elite strength coach Todd Durkin.

Building a strong and athletic core requires a comprehensive approach. You can't expect that doing a few ab exercises will get you the core you need to perform in your sport at a high level and stay injury-free. You need to train all your core muscles in a way they might be used in your sport.

Don't let folks with washboard abs deceive you. Yes, they spend a lot of time developing their abs—and they don't have a lot of body fat. But do they have an athletic core? Many of the core muscles most important for performance aren't visible in the mirror.

The core workout below, inspired by Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 (San Diego), will help you build the core you need as an athlete. It features six exercises that increase strength and stability by working your core muscles similar to how they're used when you perform athletic movements, including preventing your lower back from extending and rotating. Check out the video player above for a demonstration of each exercise.

Perform this core routine at the end of a workout once or twice per week. Over time, you'll develop a strong and stable core and become a more powerful, efficient and durable athlete. It may even help you look better.

Instructions: Perform the exercises in circuit fashion, with no rest between them. You'll need a resistance band and physioball, and it's best to get everything set up before you start. Repeat the circuit two to three times.

1. Plank-Ups


This more challenging version of the standard Plank increases ab strength and general core stability. Throughout the entire exercise, your core muscles fight to keep your body in a straight line. Added benefit: you also get some upper-body work.

Coaching Points

  • Place your elbows directly under your shoulders.
  • Keep your core tight and your body in a straight line.
  • Extend your elbows to drive your body up.

Reps: 10

2. Hip-Ups


Hip-Ups are similar to Planks, but they focus on your obliques. From a traditional Side Plank, Durkin adds the hip drive to increase the challenge.

Coaching Points

  • Stack your feet together.
  • Keep your elbow directly under your shoulder.
  • Drive your hips up.

Reps: 25 each side

3. Resisted Anti-Rotations

Resisted Anti-Rotations

One of the most overlooked aspects of the core is its ability to prevent rotation. This protects your spine and adds power to your sports skills.

Coaching Points

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your core tight and resist rotation.
  • Drive your arms directly in front of your chest.
  • For an additional challenge, have a partner chop the band.

Reps: 10-12 each side

4. Physioball Walk-Outs

Physioball Walk-Outs

Another anti-extension move designed to strengthen your abs and deep core stabilizers. It also improves your shoulder stability.

Coaching Points

  • Place your toes on the physioball.
  • Keep your core tight and your back flat.
  • Walk your hands forward and backward.

Reps: 5 each direction

5. Physioball Single-Leg Raises

Physioball Single-Leg Raises

This move includes elements of both anti-extension (holding the Plank position) and anti-rotation (keeping your torso square to the ground when you lift a foot up).

Coaching Points

  • Place your toes on the physioball.
  • Keep your core tight and back flat.
  • Raise one leg up at a time.

Reps: 10-20

6. Resisted Core Rotations

Resisted Core Rotations

The final exercise takes everything you worked on with the previous move and applies it to an athletic movement similar to how you throw a ball, swing a bat or perform another rotational skill movement.

Coaching Points

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your hips square and your core tight.
  • Rotate through your shoulders.

Reps: 10-12 each side


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock