You only need this three-move workout to enhance deep core strength, says a fitness expert

Forget crunches, these are the exercises you should be doing instead

Woman performing plank
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you think that doing hundreds of crunches is going to give you an effective core workout, think again. Crunches aren’t bad, but they predominantly target the rectus abdominis. These are your superficial ‘six-pack muscles', the ones that run vertically down the middle of your torso. While it is important to strengthen these, it’s your deep core muscles that’ll help you move more efficiently, improve posture, and relieve pain – and this workout targets them in simple three moves.

Your deep core muscles include the transverse abdominis, internal obliques, multifidus, erector spinae, pelvic floor muscles, hip flexors and diaphragm, and it's these that help provide stability and support. According to Fitness Trainer James Stirling (aka The London Fitness Guy) who’s designed this workout, you should be doing three movement patterns to target these muscles: anti-extension (where you resist extending the spine), anti-lateral flexion (where you resist movement from the side) and anti-rotation (where you resist movement through the mid-section).

Each exercise in this workout focuses on one of the key movement patterns mentioned above. It should take no longer than 15 minutes, so it’s easy to add onto the end of another workout or to do as a standalone core session. You’ll also need a pair of dumbbells for two of the three exercises. Perform each exercise for 10 reps, followed by a 20 to 30-second rest in between each move, and repeat the workout three times. Here are your exercises: 

  • Renegade rows
  • Plank rocks
  • Overhead single-arm dumbbell marches

We’ve got plenty of other core workouts here on T3. This five-move workout is perfect for if you don’t own any home gym equipment, as it just requires your body weight, and will take no longer than 15 minutes. If you fancy a session away from the floor though (as they can get a bit tedious) try this three-move standing core workout instead. It will challenge your stability even further and is excellent for improving posture.

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.