Core Strength Training Workouts From The YMCA


UPDATED: Wednesday February 20, 2013 8:24 AM

The best core strength training workouts are those that require speed, strength, balance and coordination. The American College of Sports Medicine "Resources for the Personal Trainer" states that when you work your core muscles, it's important to use a combination of isolation exercises and compound movements to stimulate the most overall muscle growth.

Firecracker Push-up:  Like the traditional push-up, this movement works the chest, shoulders, triceps and quadriceps. The firecracker push-up adds a jump and clap to the end of each push-up. The American Council on Exercise states that adding a plyometric element to the top of the movement forces the transverse abdominals to stabilize and work even harder, developing more core strength in the process. To perform it, get onto to the ground in a classic push-up position. Put your palms about shoulder width apart and extend your legs straight behind you. Lower yourself by bending your arms at the elbow and bringing the chest to the ground. Push back up as hard as you can, lifting your hands off the ground so that you can quickly bring your palms together--under your chest--and clap your hands. Immediately after you clap, catch your fall by bringing your palms quickly back to the floor. This is one repetition. Try to complete at least five per set. Do two to three sets.

Plank Run:  This simple maneuver works your core through a semi-isometric position. The holding keeps your core engaged and works the abdominals, helping to build strength. The "run" helps to put more pressure on the stabilizer muscles for added muscle stimulation. To perform it, get into a classic push-up position. Drop down onto your forearms by bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs together and your toes on the ground. Lift one leg off the ground and then alternate. Continue to move at a "running" pace for at least 30 seconds. This is one set. Do four to five sets, 30 seconds each.

Squat and Press:  The squat and press is a compound movement that works almost every muscle group in your body. The force generated from top to bottom puts your core to work by requiring it to tighten up throughout the entire movement. This makes for greater strength gains and core muscle growth. First, get into starting position by grabbing a pair of dumbbells; one in each hand. Make sure you can safely shoulder press the weight you choose--with good form--at least 12 times. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Bring the dumbbells up over your shoulders so your palms are facing forward, elbows are out to the side and your arms are bent at a 90 degree angle. To Squat down by bending your legs at the knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Stand back up while keeping your abs tight--push up from the back of your heels. Right before you reach the top, begin to shoulder press the dumbbells by pushing them straight up toward the ceiling. Slowly bring them back down. This is one repetition. Try to complete at least five repetitions per set. Do three to four sets.