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Sixteen Core Exercises That Will Leave You Feeling the Burn

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

If your current abdominal workout feels a tad monotonous or ineffective, then exchange some of your current exercises with a few (or all!) of these movements. These core igniters were recommended by professional trainers, so you’ll undoubtedly feel the effects tomorrow.

The Abdominal Exercises Trainers Vouch For


The sensation of soreness after a workout can make you feel as though you truly exerted effort and challenged your muscles. However, sometimes the routine that used to be exceedingly challenging just doesn’t cut it anymore — which indicates that you’re becoming stronger (hooray!) and may want to increase the intensity during your upcoming gym session. Here, trainers share their preferred abdominal exercises to perform when they desire that soreness and assurance of working their core. Be prepared, as these exercises are the epitome of “core igniters.” (

How it operates: Incorporate a few of these core igniters into your existing abdominal routine, or complete a set of each exercise for a comprehensive workout. Ensure that you’re attuned to your body: Only perform as many repetitions of each exercise as you feel comfortable (yet challenged!) doing, and remember to take breaks when necessary.

You’ll need: A stability ball, a medicine ball, and a pair of gliders (if you don’t have any, two washcloths also suffice)

Rise From Lying Position

A. Lie horizontally on the floor, then raise the right arm into the air and bend the right leg so that the right foot rests flat on the ground. Sit up, utilizing the left arm for support. B. Press the left heel firmly onto the floor and extend both hips off the ground, assuming a one-arm bridge position. C. Glide the left leg beneath the right leg, transitioning into a lunge position with the right leg positioned forward. D. Elevate the left knee from the floor and bring the left leg to stand beside the right leg. Repeat these steps in the reverse order to return to the initial position, then switch sides; repeat.

— Casey Miller, C.S.C.S., certified personal trainer and creator of FitNV

Woodcutting Movement

A. Maintain an upright posture and grip a medicine ball with both hands at chest level. Rotate the torso as far as possible, raising the ball and placing it above the opposite shoulder. B. While keeping the chest elevated, lower the ball across the body in a “chopping” motion — take your time and exhale during the descent. Return to the starting position. Complete all repetitions on one side, then switch sides; repeat on the opposite side.

— Nikki Noya, certified personal trainer

Spiderwoman Plank

A. Commence in a forearm plank, then bring right knee towards right elbow.B. Revert to the initial plank, then repeat on the right side. Continue alternating as swiftly as possible while maintaining proper form.

— Amber Hirsch, NASM-certified personal trainer and master barre instructor


A. Lie on back with legs spread hips-width apart. Extend arms overhead so body resembles an “X” shape.B. Utilize core to elevate upper and lower body, bring right hand and left foot together. Revert to the starting position, then switch sides; repeat.

— Amber Hirsch

Stability Ball Saw

A. Commence in a plank position with forearms on a stability ball, ensuring to keep core tight and body straight.B. Progress arms forward and backward in a sawing motion. For an additional challenge, move elbows in a circle to the right, then a circle to the left.

— Joan Scrivanich, C.S.C.S., exercise physiologist and running and triathlon coach at Rise Endurance

Windshield Wipers

A. Lie on back with knees and feet up in the air, maintaining knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. (To make this move more demanding, keep knees straight.)B. Keeping body flat on the ground, lower legs down to one side, then bring them up and over to the other side.

— Joan Scrivanich

J Turns

A. Commence in a plank position with legs on top of a stability ball (the center of the ball should be about under knees). Use knees to draw a semi-circle to left side, pulling knees to left elbow (in a “J” shape).B. Revert to the starting position, then draw knees directly under chest. Revert to the starting position and pull knees toward right elbow. Switch sides; repeat.

— Joan Scrivanich

Kneel on a soft surface and place a medicine ball on the floor in front of your body. Put both hands on top of the ball.

  • Incline firmly remains consistent, skillfully maneuver the sphere outward to its maximum extent possible.
  • Retrieve the sphere back to its initial placement and replicate the process.

— Jake Boly

Body Saw

A. Commence in a forearm plank position, feet on a set of gliders. Preserving a flat lower back and pulling shoulder blades back and down, glide the body backward as a unified entity.B. Maintain this position momentarily, then return to the initial position or slightly shift the shoulders past the wrists. Proceed with the sliding motion.

— Polina Liu, Certified British Weightlifting instructor

Leg Climb

A. Lay on your back and elevate one leg in a straight manner into the air.B. Utilize your hands to “ascend” the raised leg and touch the toes, then “descend” in a climbing motion.

— Lisa Kinder, Certified NCSF personal trainer

Reverse Curls

A. Begin in a crunch position with knees bent at 90 degrees and calves parallel to the floor.B. Raise the tailbone off the floor and bring the knees towards the nose. Return to the starting position and repeat.

— Makenzie Marzluff, Certified pilates instructor and certified nutritionist


A. Initiate from the top of a push-up position, with hands directly beneath the shoulders. Lower the right elbow down to the floor, then the left.B. Press up onto the right hand, then the left to return to the starting position. Repeat, alternating which elbow is first to lower and lift.

—Brooke Taylor, Certified NASM and ACE personal trainer, Certified Pilates instructor, and Founder of Taylored Fitness NY, Ltd

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