Forget crunches – try these five exercises for a seriously strong core instead

They work the transverse abdominis — your deep core muscles

Woman doing bird dog
(Image credit: Getty)

Crunches are great when it comes to working the rectus abdominis, those aesthetic ‘six-pack muscles’. But did you know they’re actually not the best exercise to strengthen your ‘deep core muscles’? The ones that help keep us stable and support our lower back. These five yoga poses do just that in just 10 minutes. You don't have to be a fully-fledged ‘yogi’, either, as these are 100% beginner-friendly moves.

The transverse abdominis is the deepest muscle layer within our abdominals that runs from just below your ribs all the way down to your pelvis. It’s important for maintaining a strong core, stabilising your spine and keeping the body balanced. Increasing its strength can help prevent injury, make day-to-day activities easier, while research has shown it can even prevent and help treat lower back pain. 

These five exercises are low-impact, and they’re actually quite relaxing to do too. You’ll do each one for 30 seconds, and you want to try and aim to complete three rounds of this workout in total. Try and keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement and focus on your breathing too. It’s something we tend to forget to do with ab workouts, but it’s essential for core stability. Here are your five exercises: 

  • Bird dog
  • Bird dog crunches
  • Four-point arm and leg extension with lateral rotation
  • Bear walks
  • Three legged downward facing dog knee to elbow

Make sure you perform these exercises on a supportive yoga mat or exercise mat because if you're not comfortable, then chances are you won't perform them correctly. If you enjoyed this workout and taking things a little more gently, then we've also shared some other yoga moves that can help build strength and stamina to support your other workouts. Otherwise, if you want a good yoga pose to release tension in your hips and back, this bodyweight exercise is ideal.

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.