core-exercises-women

Between bikinis, evening gowns, and yoga clothes, your belly is tough to hide. Is there any woman who doesn’t think her midsection could use a little work? Healthline teamed up with the Brentwood, Tennessee-based Erin Myers, a Pilates instructor and former Radio City Rockette, to bring you the best moves to build muscle, strengthen your core, and improve your posture.

Seated Transversus Pulses

Start with this move as a base for the other exercises in the sequence.

  1. Begin by sitting cross-legged with your back straight and tall, like a string is pulling you toward the ceiling.
  2. Inhale, relax your stomach, and exhale as you pull your belly in tight towards your spine.
  3. Inhale for one count, exhale for one count.
  4. Repeat the squeezing exercise of your stomach 20 times without pausing.

Your core should be strong enough where you can do 100 pulses straight without stopping.

Bird Dogs

The name might sound silly, but bird dogs are no joke.

  1. Start on all fours, keeping your back in a nice neutral position.
  2. Pull your belly in like you practiced with the transversus pulse.
  3. With your core pulled in tight, extend your right arm and left leg out away from your torso.
  4. Hold for 10 counts and come back to the start position.
  5. Repeat on the other side with your left arm and right leg extending out.
  6. Repeat three to four times on both sides and keep your focus on staying steady and not wobbling.

Plank

Triceps, core, butt, back: this move tones them all. Is there anything the plank can’t do?

  1. Start on all fours with your belly pulled in tight.
  2. Extend your right leg out to a plank position and then add your left leg so you are fully extended with your legs behind you and your hands are on the floor under your shoulders. You can also do this on your elbows.
  3. Keep breathing and squeezing your stomach up towards your spine. Don’t let your hips sag toward the ground.

For beginners, a good goal is to hold for thirty seconds, but you can add time as you improve. Come out of the plank before you sacrifice form. It’s better to do this one perfectly for ten seconds than halfway for thirty.

Side Plank

Are side planks fun? No. Are they effective? You bet.

  1. Starting in the plank position you’ve already practiced, then transfer your weight to your left hand as you lift your right towards the ceiling.
  2. You can leave both feet on the floor as a beginner, or you can stack them on top of each other if you want a challenge.
  3. Your core should be squeezing tightly and your pelvis should be in a nice straight line from your head to your feet.
  4. Hold for about ten seconds, rotate back to your starting plank position, then rotate to the other side.

As you get stronger, repeat this sequence several times.

Reverse Plank with Leg Lift

You haven’t seen the last of planks yet!

  1. For the last version, start by sitting on the ground with your legs extended straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands palms down a few inches behind you on the ground, fingers pointed in toward your body.
  3. With your stomach muscles pulled in tight and your shoulders pulled down, lift your bottom off the ground. Everything from the side of your head down to your pelvis and feet should be in a straight line.
  4. Without allowing your pelvis to drop down, lift your right foot about six inches off the ground and then bring it back down.
  5. Repeat with the left leg. then lower yourself slowly back down.

Try to repeat that four or five times.

Remember that building a strong core takes time, so don’t overexert yourself. This workout routine should be tough, but not painful, so if any of these moves start to hurt, take a break and reassess your form.

Work on these exercises three to five times a week to help strengthen and tone your abs, obliques, and back.