The Skipton Fitness Guru – 5 Exercises For Core Strength & Stability

Plank exercise

So last time I introduced core strength and stability to you (if you missed it, click here).  This time, I want to show you five ways you can strengthen your core, without any need for expensive gym equipment!

I’ve started off with some basic exercises and finished with some harder ones.  But don’t forget one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given:

“It’s better to do an easy thing well than a harder thing badly”

Anyone can do something badly; it takes someone special to do it well!

1. Abdominal Crunch

A classic ab exercise!  Almost everyone in the world has either done or tried to do these.  They’re not a big move – start by laying your back flat on the floor, then curl your shoulders up, but only a few inches.  A top tip is to try to push your lower back (down where your kidneys are) into the floor.

If you can do at least a dozen of these with good form, start thinking about trying the next on the list…


Core Exercises
Start – Lay flat on the floor with hands on your thighs


Core Exercises
End – Curl your shoulders up while pushing your lower back into the floor


2. Front Plank

This is a particularly good core exercise when it’s done properly.  Unfortunately, most people do it horrendously!

This is a static exercise – you want to be holding dead still.  You want to be bracing yourself on your elbows and toes while not letting your belly sag or your bum stick up in the air (see the ‘wrong’ picture below).

If your belly sags and your bum sticks up you will likely feel a pinching at the base of your spine.  If you feel this you’re doing it wrong!

Pull your belly up away from the floor while clenching and tucking your bum under.

Aim to accumulate 90 seconds’ worth of this hold correctly.


Core Exercises
Correct – Pulling the belly upwards and tucking the bum down and under. No sagging!


Core Exercises
Wrong – Letting the belly sag downwards and bum stick up.


3. Reverse Crunch

This is a fantastic progression to the standard ab crunch shown above.  I find it’s better for posture and teaches us how to control the pelvis better.

The goal here (although it is quite difficult and not everyone will be able to initially) is to be able to curl your bum up off the floor when you do the move.

The most common mistake to avoid is to use momentum and fling your legs up towards your chest.  Instead, think of “squeezing” your knees up.  This will help make sure your abdominals are working properly.


Core Exercises
Start – Lay flat on your back with hips and knees bent.


Core Exercises
End – Smoothly and with control, squeeze your knees up towards your chest, letting your bum come up off the floor.

4. One-Leg Lever

This is a progression on from the Reverse Crunch.  Being able to do the Reverse Crunch consistently and with good form will make this move easier.

Start by laying on your back with both legs straight and vertical.  Then, making sure one leg stays straight and vertical, lower the other leg down towards the floor before returning it to the start.  Repeat this move, alternating legs each time.

The most common mistakes are rushing the move and letting your lower back arch up off the floor.  Your job is to keep the spine stable by keeping the knee straight and vertical.


Core Exercises
Start – Both legs straight and vertical with hands touching your shin.


Core Exercises
End – Keeping one leg straight and vertical, lower other leg near to the floor.


5. Hollow Body Hold

We’ve saved the hardest for last so make sure you can do all the previous ones consistently and correctly before you give this one a go.

Like the Front Plank, the Hollow Body is a static holding position.  Your job is to lay on your back with arms and legs straight and fully extended, as in the picture.  The most important thing is to crush your lower back (down where the kidneys are) hard into the floor.

If your lower back arches and comes away from the floor, you will probably feel a pinching in your lower spine.  This means you are doing it wrong!

Remember, this is the hardest core exercise listed here.  Make sure you can do all the previous ones consistently and correctly before trying it.


Core Exercises
Keep arms and legs fully extended while keeping your lower back pressed firmly onto the floor.  No arching of the back at all!


So there you have it!  Five core exercises you can try out today.  But remember, quality before quantity!

“It’s better to do an easy thing well, than a harder thing badly.”

But if you are having problems performing these or any other exercises then contact me through my website ( for help!


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