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10 Advanced Core Exercises You Need To Challenge Your Abs

If you’re like most people, you want to have a toned and flat stomach. It looks good, especially when you wear that special outfit for a night out. But how do you achieve this? Sure, sit-ups and crunches are a great place to start, but if you really want to see results, you need to challenge your abdominal muscles with some advanced core exercises. These exercises focus on improving core muscle function and stability, which translates to a stronger and more toned midsection. But first, let’s dive into the anatomy of the core so you have a better understanding of what muscles we’re targeting with these exercises. We’ll also explain why focusing on core muscle function rather than just aesthetics is important for your overall health and wellbeing.

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Anatomy Of The Core

The core muscles are a group of muscles that stabilise the spine and pelvis. They include the:

  • Rectus abdominis (the “six-pack muscle”)
  • External obliques (on the sides of the abdominal wall)
  • Internal obliques (underneath the external obliques)
  • Transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of abdominal muscle)
  • Erector spinae (a group of muscles that runs along the spine)
  • Quadratus lumborum (a muscle in the lower back)
  • Hip flexors (a group of muscles that stabilize the hip joint)

Each of these muscles plays an important role in core stability. The rectus abdominis and external obliques work together to flex the spine (as in a sit-up), while the internal obliques and transverse abdominis help to stabilize the spine and pelvis.

Together, these muscles work to keep the spine and pelvis stable, which is important for everyday activities like walking, sitting, and standing. They also play a role in more strenuous activities like running, jumping, and lifting weights.

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The Importance Of Core Stability

While a toned stomach may be aesthetically pleasing, core stability is important for much more than just looks. A strong and stable core is essential for maintaining a good posture, preventing injuries, and improving sports performance (2).

For example, if you have weak core muscles, you’re more likely to experience lower back pain. This is because the core muscles are responsible for stabilizing the spine, and if they’re not upto the task, the lower back has to work harder to compensate. This can lead to strain on the lower back muscles and ligaments, which can eventually lead to pain.

See also
Standing Core Workout: Why You Should Ditch Crunches For These 15 Exercises

Similarly, if you play a sport that involves a lot of twisting or turning (such as tennis or golf), weak core muscles can increase your risk of injury. This is because the core muscles help to stabilize the spine and pelvis, and if they’re not up to the task, you’re more likely to suffer an injury when you make sudden movements.

Finally, strong core muscles are important for improving sports performance (1). This is because the core muscles play a key role in stabilizing the body, and if they’re not up to the task, you won’t be able to move as efficiently or effectively.

Read More: Core Exercise For Older Adults: Become Powerful And Mobile In The Golden Age

Will Advanced Core Exercises Give You A Six-Pack?

One of the most common questions people ask when they start doing core exercises is “will this give me a six-pack?” The answer, unfortunately, is not that simple.

Having a six-pack is mostly dependent on your body fat percentage. This is because the rectus abdominis muscle (the muscle that makes up the six-pack) is covered by a layer of fat. So, if you have a high body fat percentage, you’re unlikely to see your six-pack, no matter how strong your core muscles are.

That said, doing advanced core exercises will help to strengthen the rectus abdominis muscle and make it more defined. So, if you have a low body fat percentage, you may start to see some definition in your midsection.

To really see your six-pack, you need to combine advanced core exercises with a healthy diet that helps you to lower your body fat percentage. Some cardio exercises, such as running or cycling, can also help to burn off excess body fat.

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The Best Advanced Core Exercises

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the exercises. These are some of the best advanced core exercises to challenge your abdominal muscles and help you achieve a stronger and more defined midsection.

See also
Core Exercises Postpartum: How To Tighten Your Midsection After Pregnancy?

1. Forearm Plank With March

The humble plank is one of the most effective exercises for targeting the core muscles. It recruits all of the muscles in the midsection, including the rectus abdominis, internal obliques, and transverse abdominis. Add the march and this variation is even more challenging, as it forces the muscles to work harder to stabilize the body.

To do a forearm plank with march:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your forearms on the ground. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  2. Your feet should be hip-width apart. You may go on your hands if this is too challenging for you.
  3. Tighten your core muscles and hold the position for 30 seconds. 
  4. Then, lift your right foot off the ground keeping your leg straight out behind you. 
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg. 
  6. Continue alternating legs for the duration of the exercise.

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2. Side Plank With Hip Dip

The side plank is a variation of the traditional plank that targets the oblique muscles. These are the muscles that run down the sides of your waist and help you to twist and turn your torso. The hip dip adds an extra challenge by working the muscles even harder.

To do a side plank with hip dip:

  1. Start in a side plank position with your right forearm on the ground and your feet stacked.
  2. Your elbow should be directly beneath your shoulder and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground and hold the position for 30 seconds. 
  4. Then, lower your hips towards the ground, allowing your right hip to dip below your left. 
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
See also
10 Exercises To Strengthen Lower Back And Core

3. Bird Dog With Knee/Elbow Touches

The bird dog is a famous Pilates move that targets the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis. The knee/elbow touch recruits the oblique muscles and adds an extra challenge.

To do a bird dog with knee/elbow touches:

  1. Start on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
  2. Keeping your back straight, raise your right arm out in front of you and your left leg out behind you. 
  3. The left leg should be in line with your spine and the right arm should be in line with your shoulder.
  4. Keeping your core muscles engaged, slowly bring your right arm and left knee toward each other, touching your elbow to your knee. 
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

4. Side Plank Toe Touches

This exercise is a variation of the side plank that targets the oblique muscles. The toe touches improve your rotational control and challenge your balance.

To do side plank toe touches:

  1. Start in a side plank position with your right forearm on the ground and your feet stacked.
  2. Extend your left arm above your head. Stretch your left leg forward until your toes are in line with your fingertips.
  3. Keeping your core engaged, reach down with your left hand and touch your left toes. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

advanced core exercises

5. Windshield Wipers

The windshield wiper is a challenging core stabilization exercise that targets the rectus abdominis. It also recruits the oblique muscles to a lesser extent.

To do windshield  wipers:

  1. Start lying on your back with your legs outstretched and your arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your legs so they are perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Keeping your legs straight, lower your legs to the left side of your body as far as you can while keeping your back pressed firmly into the ground.
  4. Return your legs to the starting position and then lower them to the right side of your body.
  5. Repeat for 10-12 reps.

6. Pilates Scissor

The Pilates scissor is a challenging core exercise that targets the rectus abdominis and the oblique muscles.

See also
Core Exercise For Older Adults: Become Powerful And Mobile In The Golden Age

To do Pilates scissor:

  1. Start lying on your back with your legs outstretched and your arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your legs so they are perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Keeping your lower back pressed firmly into the ground, slowly lower your right leg toward the floor. At the same time, raise your left leg toward the ceiling.
  4. Switch legs, lowering the left leg and raising the right.
  5. Continue alternating legs for 10-12 reps.

Read More: Core Exercises Postpartum: How To Tighten Your Midsection After Pregnancy?

7. Side Lying Hip Abduction

The side lying hip abduction is a great exercise for targeting the muscles of the hips and thighs. It also challenges the core muscles, specifically the oblique muscles.

To do the side lying hip abduction:

  1. Lie on your right side with your under leg bent and your top leg straight.
  2. Rest your head on your right arm or a pillow.
  3. Keeping your core engaged, raise your top leg toward the ceiling.
  4. Lower your leg back to the starting position and repeat for 10-12 reps.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.

advanced core exercises

8. Supine Toe Tap

Pilates supine toe taps are a great exercise for targeting the rectus abdominis. They also challenge your hip flexors, improving your range of motion.

To do supine toe taps:

  1. Start lying on your back with your legs outstretched and your arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your legs so they are perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Keeping your lower back pressed firmly into the ground, slowly lower your right leg toward the floor. At the same time, raise your left leg toward the ceiling.
  4. Switch legs, lowering the left leg and raising the right.
  5. Continue alternating legs for 10-12 reps.

9. Lying Hip Raise

The lower abs are often an area that people struggle to target. The lying hip raise is a great exercise for toning and strengthening the lower abdominal muscles.

To do the lying hip raise:

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. 
  2. Place your hands on the ground beside you for stability.
  3. Keeping your core engaged, raise your hips off the ground until your thighs and torso are in line with each other.
  4. Lower your hips back to the starting position and repeat for 10-12 reps.
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10.V-Sit

This isometric exercise is a great way to target the rectus abdominis and the oblique muscles. The V-sit also challenges your balance, making it a great core and coordination exercise.

To do the V-sit:

  1. Start sitting on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean back slightly and place your hands on the ground behind you for support.
  3. Engage your core and lift your legs off the ground, bringing your knees toward your chest.
  4. As you lift your legs, raise your torso and bring your hands to your knees.
  5. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your legs and torso back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 10-12 reps.

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advanced core exercises

Can You Do Advanced Core Exercises Every Day?

Although you can do advanced core exercises more frequently than other types of exercises, it’s still important to give your muscles time to recover. Aim to do advanced core exercises 2-3 times per week, allowing at least a day of rest in between workouts.

How Long Does It Take To See Results From Advanced Core Exercises?

You may see results from advanced core exercises in as little as 3-4 weeks of consistent workouts. The main improvement you’ll likely see is in your strength and endurance. For best results, focus on progressing slowly and consistently over time. 

The Bottom Line

These 10 advanced core exercises will challenge your abs and help you build a strong and toned core. Incorporate them into your workout routine for best results. Remember to focus on quality over quantity and to listen to your body – if an exercise feels too difficult or causes pain, stop and try a different one.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. A PILOT STUDY OF CORE STABILITY AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE: IS THERE A RELATIONSHIP? (2011, nih.gov)
  2. Core Stability: What Is It and Why Is It Important? (2018, nationwidechildrens.org)
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