Simple Effective Core Workout

STACK Expert William C. McDonald offers a simple, effective core workout to build strength in your abs, back and glutes.

Bicycle Crunches

You can't go wrong with core exercises. Not only do they build strength in your abs, back and glutes, they help you properly position your body to perform other movements more quickly and efficiently.

Here's a breakdown of one of my favorite core workouts. It includes exercises that may not seem like core movements but will actually work your most important core muscles.

Core Exercises

Body Squats

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, then slowly stand back up.

Split Squats

  • Begin in a standing position.
  • Jump into a split-leg position, with one leg forward and one leg back, flexing your knees and lowering your hips slightly as you do so.
  • As you descend, jump up and reverse the position of your legs.

Reverse Crunches

  • Lie face up with your legs fully extended and arms out to the side.
  • Move your legs up so your thighs are elevated and your feet are together and parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your stomach muscles tight and bring your knees as close to your chest as possible.
  • Push your legs back out to starting position.

Donkey Kicks

  • Get on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Drawing your abs in, lift your left leg parallel to the floor, with your knee bent and foot flexed.
  • Bring your knee back to starting position, then switch sides.

Bicycle Crunches

  • Lie on your back and place your hands behind your ears. Do not clasp your hands behind your head.
  • Lift your legs in the air and bend your knees so your legs form a 90-degree angle.
  • Move your legs in a bicycle motion.
  • When your left knee is close to your body, reach your right elbow to it.
  • When your right knee is close to your body, reach your left elbow to it.

Core Workout

Do this workout three to four days a week.

Week 1

Body Squats (3x15)
Split Squats (3x8)
Reverse Crunches (3x30)
Donkey Kicks (3x20)
Bicycle Kicks (3x30)

After Week 1, you should feel comfortable with the routine. Weeks 2 and 3 build the intensity. You will do sets based on time, not reps.

I like to have my clients improve their maximum number of repetitions. So let's say on Day 1, you do Body Squats for three sets of 30 seconds for a total of 70 reps. On Day 2, try to beat that number.

Weeks 2 and 3

Body Squats (2x60 seconds)
Split Squats (2x30 seconds)
Reverse Crunches (3x90 seconds)
Donkey Kicks (3x90 seconds)
Bicycle Kicks (3x90 seconds)

Rest for 90-120 seconds between sets. Once you start to become stronger, shorten the rest period.

Have fun with this routine. Keep your music going in the background to stay focused and pumped up during your workout.

Good luck with your fitness goals, and have fun getting fit!

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock