10 Unconventional Core Strengthening Exercises

You’re probably aware of the importance of core strengthening exercises, but very few actually know what the core actually is (and what it is not) and how to best strengthen it.  The term core strengthening gets thrown around quite a bit, and it is typically a catch all phrase referring to anything that targets the mid section. However, the core is so much more than having a six pack.

What is the core (and what is it not)?

When we picture the core, we typically picture a guy on the bowflex machine that has a shredded six pack (spoiler alert – he probably hardly actually trains on the bowflex).  The six pack muscles, called your rectus abdominis, actually do not attach onto the spine and play a very small role in overall function of the core as it relates to pain-free performance.

So now that we know what the core is not, let’s explain more what the core actually is.  The core is made up of your rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and transverse abdominis (an often overlooked part of core training).  However, the core even goes beyond these stomach muscles. Core strengthening exercises done right also have to take into account all of your hip muscles (way too many to list), your pelvic floor muscles, your lower back musculature, and your diaphragm (breathing muscle).

Abdominal Core Muscles

Without getting into too much detail on how all these muscles function individually and collectively to make up your core, it’s important to realize that your core training has to be more than situps and planks.

What is missing in most core strengthening routines?

Below you’ll see videos on 10 unconventional core strengthening exercises to try adding into your routine.  These incorporate your stomach, your lower back, your hips, and most of them involve resisting ROTATION and LATERAL FLEXION.

Most core strengthening that we see people doing is almost always in the front to back plane.  However, in sport and in life, the ability to control the side to side and rotational planes is where pain-free performance lies.

We have helped hundreds of individuals get out of pain and live their best life through proper implementation of these two forgotten planes of movement.  Chronic back, hip, neck, shoulder, and knee problems have been resolved through a targeted approach to address these areas of the core that are often missing in most people’s programs.

The core is the center of all of our movement.  Whether you are looking to PR in the gym or in your next race, or simply looking to fix nagging injuries and feel better on a daily basis, we recommend upgrading your core routine to some less conventional core movements.

Check out a list of our top 10 below:

Single Arm Farmer’s Carry

Single Arm Farmer’s Carry with March

Single Arm Front Rack Carry

Single Arm Overhead Carry

Push Up Plank with Kettlebell Pull Through

Lateral Ab Wheel with Plate (this one is more advanced, no falling on your face!)

The Getup Situp

Half Kneeling Pallof Press

Half Kneeling Pallof Press with Shoulder Reach

Half Kneeling Overhead Pallof Press

Don’t feel like you need to add all of these in at once, pick one or two to try out over the next couple weeks and take note of how you feel.  As with any movement, it’s more important how you’re doing it than how much you’re doing.

Do you need some guidance with your exercise program?  Are you having pain with your daily activities or workouts that are keeping you from living your best life?  Don’t wait to contact us, we help individuals just like you every single day get out of pain and perform their best in whatever activities life throws at them.

Whether you’ve been putting off your health for too long and are ready to get started, or whether you’re on the fence with what your next step should be, click here to head on over to our contact page.  We’ll help get you scheduled for your first visit or for a free phone consult with a Doctor of Physical Therapy.