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The 6 Best Core-Strengthening Exercises for Women

Use these simple moves to seriously upgrade your midsection.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Ladies, no body part has more importance and functionality than your core. It's not only because it gives you a sculpted, lean midsection—although that's a nice bonus—but it's also because it helps with virtually every part of life. From athletic performance to injury prevention to supporting daily activities, having strong abdominals, obliques, and pelvic floor muscles goes a very long way. In this article, I'll share six of the very best core exercises for women.

These moves are perfect to add to your routine regardless of training age, fitness level, or current strength. As you improve, it will be super easy to increase the intensity so you can keep challenging your muscles to build more and more strength. (Just don't get mad at me when you're sore the next morning!)

Keep reading to learn about the six best core-strengthening exercises for women, and next, don't miss 6 Tips for Women To Lose Belly Fat & Keep It Off.

Dead Bugs

illustration of dead bug exercise

First up in the best core-strengthening exercises for women is the dead bug. This is an incredible move that works many muscles within your core. Also, it places your pelvis in the correct position so you can maintain good posture in your lower back while getting a great workout.

To begin, lie on your back with your arms and knees in the air (like a dead bug), press your lower back into the ground, and lift your glutes. Reach out with your right leg and left leg at the same time while keeping your lower back flat on the ground, keeping your hips off the ground, and exhaling all of your air. Switch sides and repeat.


middle-aged woman doing plank exercises for a flat belly on mat on dock

There's nothing like the basics: A great plank will do wonders for your abdominals and help train your body to maintain good posture while you breathe in and out through your nose.

Get into a plank position, resting on your forearms and keeping your body straight. Push your forearms into the ground to round your upper back, and curl your hips to keep your lower back flat.

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Side Planks

woman doing side forearm plank

The great thing about a side plank is that it targets your transverse abdominis, the deepest muscle within your core that acts as your natural "weight belt," critical in protecting your lower back during daily activities and intense exercise.

To set up for side planks, lie on your side and place your forearm on the ground, perpendicular to your body. Keep your body straight, your glutes squeezed, and your shoulders pulled back. Don't let your hips sag.

Stability Ball Body Saw

Exercise balls add instability to your movements so you can skyrocket the demand on your core muscles. By doing a "body saw," you increase the lever length, which takes your training to a whole new dimension.

Get into a plank position with your forearms on a stability ball. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your core. Then, push the ball forward with your forearms as far as you can while maintaining good posture. Return to the starting position, and repeat.

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stability ball plank, stir the pot

Next up in the best core-strengthening exercises for women, it's time for stir-the-pot. With this move, you use the exercise ball to create instability from all angles so you can strengthen your core in many different ways from the same exercise. It also teaches you to move your arms while bracing your core, which carries over to countless daily activities.

Get into a plank position on a stability ball. While keeping your torso still, move your forearms in a circle. Then, switch directions. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and don't let your lower back sag.

Reverse Crunches

reverse crunches

Traditional crunches have several problems: They put a lot of stress on your neck as you crane your head forward to complete each rep. People also round their shoulders, worsening their posture. Instead, use the reverse crunch, which targets your external obliques and teaches you to "tuck" your pelvis for better posture.

To begin, lie on the ground with your thighs perpendicular to the ground, your knees bent as far as you can, and your feet off the ground. Feel free to grab a weight or sturdy object above your head—that way, you can hold and pull it as your curl your knees. Curl your knees up to your head, and slowly bring them back. Keep your knees fully bent throughout the exercise, and don't let your thighs go past perpendicular to the ground.

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony