What exercises should I perform to strengthen core and lower back?

November 13, 2022 4 min read

plank position

What exercises should I perform to strengthen core and lower back? 

Strengthening the muscles in your lower back and core is not just for vanity reasons. Your core consists of your spine, abdomen, muscles of the hips and pelvic floor. It plays a crucial role in providing stability in your back. Furthermore, lower back pain can be avoided if strength is built and developed in these muscles along with your endurance whilst working out. 

As you work through the following exercises, keep in mind that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that in order to properly strengthen your core and lower back muscles, each exercise should consist of 8 to 12 repetitions for two to four sets, completed two to three times per week. Should you find that any of the exercise cause additional pain, then you should immediately stop from performing them. 

Below are some exercises which have been proven to target the above muscle groups. 


This exercise engages several various muscles in the core along with the transversus abdominus and the gluteus maximus. 

To perform this exercise, lie with your knees bent on your back with your feet on the ground, flat. Avoid holding your breath whilst you contract your abdominal muscles and lift the buttocks off the ground. Maintain this position for a period of 5 to 10 seconds and then begin to slowly lower your body to the ground again.

Dead bug

As you move your arms and legs away from the body, this exercise will change you to maintain core stability through your abdominal muscles.

Lie on your back and lift both legs in the air; your hips and knees should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Your back should remain flat on the ground whilst you squeeze your stomach muscles. Hold this pose and straighten one leg in the air, and raise your alternate arm at the same time, remembering to keep your back straight and not arched. Return back to the starting position and then repeat this movement but with the opposite arm and leg. 

Plank with leg lifts

This exercise is a modified version of the standard plank and aims to activate and engage the gluteus maximus muscle in addition to challenging the abdominal muscles.

Begin in the traditional push-up position with your hands placed flat on the floor under each shoulder and extended elbows. Your buttocks should remain in line with your body and stomach muscles should be engaged in order to keep a straight spine. One you have ensured this, lift one leg in the air and then begin to slowly lower it to the floor whilst maintaining a straight- line position. Then repeat the same movement but with the opposite leg and switch between one another. 

Side Plank

This exercise targets the gluteus medius and the oblique muscles at the same time. The gluteus medius is located on the side of your pelvis and is a significant core muscle. 

Whilst lying on your right side, keep your knees straight and stack your legs on top of each other. Position your right elbow under your shoulder and then until your spine is straight, lift your body from the ground. Hold this for 5 to 10 seconds and then lower yourself back to the floor. Once you have completed this movement for a full set, do the same on your left side. 

Prone Flutters

The multifidi muscles located in the low back are challenged during this exercise; these muscles help to stabilize the spine. 

Extend your arms over your head while you lay on your stomach. At the same time, lift your left leg and your right arm into the air before slowly lowering them back to the ground. Repeat the same movement with the opposite leg and arm, continue to alternate for the rest of the set.

Bird Dog

Multiple muscles in the core can be strengthened effectively during this exercise; this is because bird dogs challenge your erector spinae along the spine along with targeting your abdominal muscles, shoulder blade muscles and glutes.

Whilst positioned on your hands and knees on the floor, your low back should flatten similar to that of a table top by activating and engaging your stomach muscles. Lift one leg and the opposite arm into the air, whilst not allowing your pelvis to tilt, until both are extended fully. Before returning to the ground and repeating the movement but with the opposite arm and leg, maintain this position for 5 to 10 seconds. 

Prayer Plank

The transversus abdominis muscle is challenged in this exercise due to the use of an exercise ball which incorporates added instability to the movement. The transversus abdominis contributes to a supported and healthy low back and surrounds your internal organs. 

With the exercise ball placed in front of you, kneel on the ground. Grasp your hands together as you place the forearms on the ball. Position yourself in the plank pose by lifting your knees up from the floor; your abdominal muscles should be contracted and your spine neutral. It is important to not rest your chest on the ball in order to perform the exercise correctly and therefore reap the most benefits. Before lowering your knees to the floor, retain this position for a period of 5 to 10 seconds.

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