5 Functional Core Exercises That Make Your Day-to-Day Movement so Much Easier

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Photo: Stocksy/Kristen Curette & Daemaine Hines
Some people add core work into their routine with a singular goal in mind: getting. those. abs. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, functional core exercises do a lot more than tighten and tone—they also help you build up the core stability and strength you need to go about your every day activities with ease.

Whether it's climbing the stairs, carrying heavy groceries, or picking up your kiddos, these are the best functional core exercises to start with to build up a weak core. Because let's be real. Abs are cool, but anything that makes going about your day-to-day easier is so much cooler.

Functional core exercises for to make day-to-day movement easier

1. Leg raises

Leg lifts will develop your core, helping you sit for longer periods of time at your desk without lower back pain. (With that being said, make sure you're getting up and moving around during the day, too!)

How to do it:

  1. Start on your back with your hands on the floor near your hips.
  2. Lift your legs as high off the ground as you can.
  3. Slowly lower your legs without allowing them to touch the ground, then repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 20 reps, 4 times a week.

2. Side planks

Side planks strengthen your arms and core, which can help you pick things up—whether that's heavy boxes or kiddos!—without throwing your back out.

How to do it:

  1. Start on your side with your elbow in line with your shoulder. Your feet should be stacked on top of each other.
  2. Lift your body off the ground and old for 30 seconds.
  3. Lower your hip back down to the ground.
  4. Do 2 sets of 30 seconds—one on each side—3 times a week.

3. Stability ball crunches

This move will result in a serious core burn. As you build up strength, it will be easier walking (or running!) up the stairs. You'll also feel more stable as you do so.

How to do it:

  1. Lie face-up on a stability ball with the ball positioned under your lower back. Your feet should be firm on the floor to stabilize you, and your hands should be behind your head to support your neck.
  2. Slowly crunch up, then lower back down. Focus on touching your chin to your chest as you crunch.
  3. Do 3 sets of 20 reps, 4 times a week.

4. Inch worms

This move strengthens your abs and arms, which helps with heavy gardening, vacuuming your entire home in record time, and reorganizing your closet.

How to do it:

  1. Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Walk your hands forward into a push-up position without arching your lower back. Do a push-up.
  3. Walk your hands back to your feet and stand up tall.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps, 3 times a week.

5. Medicine ball toss crunches

This move will help you move any heavy object, as it's training your body to use your core while holding weight. This move will also help you carry all those heavy bags out of the grocery store with ease.

How to do it:

  1. Start on sitting on a mat with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent.
  2. With a medicine ball or exercise ball in your hands above your chest, lower your body into a sit-up.
  3. As you crunch up, toss the ball into the air above you.
  4. Catch the ball, then lower your body back down to the ground.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 25 reps, 5 days a week.

Continue training your core with this workout:

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