Engage your deep core muscles and build strong obliques with this seven-move workout

Boost your balance, improve your posture, and increase your performance with this core-focused bodyweight routine

Woman doing bicycle crunches
(Image credit: Getty)

The core plays a part in every exercise and workout. Whether it's strength or cardio, engaging the core can help you maximize gains and stay strong and stable.

Even though the core muscles are naturally activated when doing any kind of exercise, it's a good idea to dedicate some time to strengthening them by themselves. 

And this doesn't mean endless sit-ups. In fact, this workout from certified personal trainer Sara Kathryns will help you target the obliques, along with a range of other deep core muscles. 

The obliques are muscles down the side of your torso, which are responsible for rotational movements and are engaged during full-body compound exercises like squats and deadlifts.

You don't need any equipment for this routine, although one of the best yoga mats can add some underfoot support and comfort. The aim is to complete each exercise for 30 seconds, one after the other, repeating the entire circuit three times.

Kathryns suggests trying to complete all three rounds without rest, which will really work out your core muscles. But if this is too challenging, take a brief 10-20-second rest in between exercises and rounds.

Watch Sara Kathryn's seven-move core workout

Think about squeezing your abdominal muscles throughout this workout, tucking your ribcage in and making sure your back is flat on the floor when lying down. Arching your back could lead to injury or discomfort and it will also reduce abdominal engagement.

A couple of these exercises are pretty challenging, so there are modifications you can make if you need. For the side plank exercises, keep one knee on the floor and stretch the other one over the top instead of balancing your feet on top of each other, to help with stability.

For the final exercise, you can also step up and down from your knees to standing, instead of jumping, keeping a slight bend in your knee when you stand to engage the lower-body.

If you want to add a more more midsection sessions to your schedule, there are plenty of core strengthening exercises you can blend into a dedicated abs and core-focused routine or integrate a few into your existing plan. 

If you've not trained your core before, you'll probably feel the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the following day. This is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers that your body needs protein to repair. 

That's why many people drink a post-workout smoothie blended with some of the best protein powders for weight loss to help build lean muscle and promote recovery, so you can ease some of that soreness. 

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.