The Complete Core Workout

STACK Expert Nick Tumminello provides a comprehensive workout (with video) to help you build a strong and stable core from all angles.

Core training—everyone loves to do it, but there's a good chance you're doing it wrong. Why? The core is much larger than you think.

In 1982, Bob Gajda (1966 Mr. America) and Dr. Richard Dominquez coined the term "core" in their book, Total Body Training. They stated:

The foundation of Total Body Training is the core, which comprises the muscles in the center of the body. These muscles stabilize the body while in an upright, antigravity position, or while using the arms and legs to throw or kick. These muscles maintain the body's structure during vigorous exercises, such as running, jumping, shoveling and lifting weights. These muscles also control the head, neck, ribs, spine and pelvis.


It's clear from this original definition that the term core refers to all of the muscles in the entire torso. However, over time this definition has been lost in translation, and the word "core" is now commonly used to reference the abs exclusively. And because of this, many people improperly train their core. (How strong is your core?)

How To Strengthen the Core From All Angles

Since your core comprises more than your abs, a comprehensive core-strengthening program must target your entire torso from all angles. The four primary types of exercises are:

  • Anterior chain (the front side of your core)
  • Posterior chain (the back side of your core)
  • Lateral torso
  • Rotational movement

Anterior Chain

The video below shows the Physioball Pike Rollout, a combination of the anterior-core strengthening Physioball Rollout and the Physioball Pike.

Sets/Reps: 2-3x-10-12

Posterior Chain

Although it may not seem like a traditional core exercise, the Deadlift (and its variations) is one of the best exercises for strengthening the posterior core. It targets your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and paraspinal muscles (i.e., muscles that run parallel to your spine.)

The video below shows a demonstration of the Romanian Deadlift (RDL), performed as part of the 747 Deadlift Protocol, which was developed at Performance U to add a new challenge to your workout. (See The Death of the Crunch?)

Sets/Reps: 3-5x7 RDLs/4 Squat Jumps/7 RDLs

Lateral Torso

Many athletes are familiar with the Landmine Rotation. It's a great exercise, but it's poorly named, because its primary focus is on the lateral torso. I explain the reason for this in the video below.

Sets/Reps: 3-4x6-8 each side

Rotational Movement

Rotational strength is critical for swinging a bat, hitting a golf ball, throwing a hard punch and nearly every other athletic movement.

The video below shows a demonstration of a unique variation of the Pallof Press—one of our favorite methods for improving rotational strength.

Sets/Reps: 3-4x10-15 each side

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock