Fitness expert says these are the 3 best exercises for a strong, functional core

Improve your body's strength, stability and build abs

Woman doing side plank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s no doubt that many people will be setting a goal to get a six-pack in 2024, that’s fine. But a strong core will give you more than just abs – it’ll provide your body with better strength, stability and develop those six-pack muscles too, which is exactly what this workout intends to do. If you’re at the gym, you’ll be ready to go, but if you’re doing it from home, you’ll just need either a dumbbell, kettlebell or a large water bottle.

“The abdominal muscles are part of the ‘core’, which comprises the abdominals and spinal muscles – these work together as a team in most compound exercises to provide rigidity and stability to the spine,” says Aroosha Nekonam, Senior Personal Trainer at Ultimate Performance, who’s created this workout. “Training the abdominals directly allows you to target them specifically and improve their size and strength. On the other hand, training with core movements allows you to develop the skill and strength of using both muscle groups simultaneously.”

Aroosha Nekonam personal trainer at Ultimate Performance
Aroosha Nekonam

Aroosha has been a certified personal trainer for more for than seven years and joined Ultimate Performance – the world’s only global personal training business - in 2007. She has worked with hundreds of U.P. clients to help them achieve their body composition goals.

Woman with hands on her hips tensing her abs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aroosha's killer core workout

For this workout you've got three exercises to work through and you're aiming to complete each one for 12 to 15 reps (on each side of your body where applicable). You can either perform it as a stand alone workout or, if you're a little more advanced with your fitness, Aroosha suggests to add it into your existing training regime and complete it at the end of your session, twice a week. Here's your workout:

Complete three rounds

  • Crunches
  • Dumbbell side bends 
  • Standing cable wood chop – can also do with a dumbbell, kettlebell or water bottle

There's plenty more core workouts here on T3 – like this six minute bodyweight core workout. We won't lie, it is a burner, but a brilliant one. If, however, you hate core exercises that require you to lie on the floor, here's a standing ab workout for you to try. It'll take you around 15 minutes and all you need is a free weight or water bottle.

Get Fit 2024

This feature is part of T3's Get Fit 2024 campaign. We’ll be bringing you a wealth of guides, features, deals and news to help you get healthy, fit and ready for anything the new year can throw at you. Whether you’re a newcomer to fitness or someone with a passion for it, we’ll bring you all the best workouts, diet advice and gear to set you on the right track.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.