Great Exercises for Strengthening Your Core

Maybe you don't have a flabby stomach, but you might find that your body's core is still pretty weak. Perhaps you find yourself slouching at your desk or at the dinner table. A weak core can be the reason why you find it difficult to keep up with lifting weights and doing squats in your normal workout.

Here are 5 exercises that you can start practicing to build up those abs and other core muscles.

Side Balance Crunch: Here you'll begin with your left knee and left hand on the floor. Extend your right arm straight up into the air and your right leg straight out to the side. Then pull both your right knee to your chest and your right elbow toward your knee. Hold for one second and straighten both limbs out again. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side.

Circle Plank: Start in a plank position with your hands planted under your shoulders. Then extend your right leg straight back. Pull your knee in all the way to your stomach and circle it around both clockwise and counterclockwise. Repeat this motion 5 more times, then switch to the other leg.

Bridge: Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and your arms flat at your sides. Squeeze your rear and core muscles as you push on your heels and lift up the lower half of your body. To get higher and your core muscles tighter, you can shift your shoulders and move your arms closer together under your back. Try grasping your hands together behind your back as you continue to stretch your torso. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise 5 more times.

Side Bridge: Lie on your side with your forearm positioned on the floor below your shoulder. Stack your feet on top of each other. As you tighten your stomach muscles, press your forearm into the floor so you're lifted up at a 45-degree angle. Your body should be straight from shoulder to ankle. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch to the other side.

Plank with Diagonal Lift: Begin with your hands and knees on the floor, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees right below your hips. Once you're balanced, extend your right arm forward and lift your left leg back, so that you form a diagonal line between the two sides. Hold for 10 seconds and lower both your arm and leg back into place. Repeat this motion 5 more times and then switch to the other side.

Image by US Army on Flickr