Building strong core muscles doesn’t require hours of sit-ups or spending all day in the gym. This simple sequence of yoga poses targets the abs, glutes, and back – so it can help build core strength in just a few minutes each day!
In This Article:
Unfortunately, many people think a core workout is nothing more than doing some crunches. This only targets one set of muscles and doesn’t build functional strength.
The sequence of yoga poses below is designed to build core strength without adding too much time to your schedule (although to build strength you’ll also need progressive overload, such as in the Yoga Burn program). So if you want stronger abs, back and glutes, try to practice it a few times each week.
Before we get to the routine though, what exactly is your “core?”
What is Your “Core?”
When most people think of strengthening their core muscles, they immediately imagine abs. Yes, defined and strong abs are nice to have – but your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles.
Here’s a list of some of the main muscles involved in your core:
- Rectus abdominus – this is a “trunk flexor” that activates when you bend forward. Also known as the six pack!
- Internal and external obliques – these are located on the outside of the body and are involved in twisting motions.
- Erector spinae – the erector spinae is a back muscle that activates when you bend back or stand up from a bent position.
- Transverse abdominis – this is the muscle that allows you to “pull” your belly towards the spine.
- Multifidi – the multifidi stabilises your spine when moving.
These are far from all the core muscles though. The hip flexors, glutes and even hamstrings are often considered part of the core. As you can imagine, building the strength of these core muscles can greatly improve your stability.
Why is The Core Important?
Your core muscles are involved in almost every movement you make. Whether you want a better posture, greater stability or just to hold yoga poses for longer, your core is essential.
Arguably the most important role of the core muscles is stabilisation. They can act as both dynamic and isometric stabilisers, which makes them vital for transferring power.
A strong core is also important to prevent injury. The core muscles protect other muscles and the spine during exercise. This is why physiotherapists often recommend core exercises during rehabilitation – even if the injury wasn’t related to a core muscle.
The Benefits of Core Strengthening with Yoga
One of the benefits of yoga for core strengthening is that it’s not focused on building bulk. Unlike lifting heavy weights in the gym, yoga uses your body weight to strengthen the core. This allows you to develop lean and efficient muscle.
Yoga also acts to improve both the strength and function of your core. Instead of building useless muscle mass, you’ll develop functional strength.
As a bonus, yoga is great for gently lengthening the muscles of the core. This is just as important as strengthening, as tight and sore core muscles are less effective at providing stability.
A Simple Yoga Core Strength Sequence for Beginners
The following sequence of yoga postures for core strength takes less than 10 minutes. It’ll activate many of the muscles in your core and help you build functional strength. I’ve linked to descriptions on how to do each exercise – make sure you check these before you start as proper form is essential.
There’s no set time to hold each pose, but try to aim for up to 10 slow and deep breaths. If you feel your form starting to slip, carefully release the pose.
- Plank. The plank is a staple exercise for building core strength, as it works the arms, shoulders, back and abdomen. Make sure you maintain a neutral spine all the way through the neck.
- Side Plank. The side plank is great for strengthening the obliques, which are important for torso rotation. You’ll also need to engage your abdominal muscles to maintain a straight body alignment.
- Boat Pose. This is a fantastic core yoga pose for strengthening deep muscles in the abdomen. It’s a challenging position so don’t be surprised if you can’t hold it for long initially. You can also try a second version of this, with the knees bent instead of straight, to target slightly different muscles.
- Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog. A variation on the classic yoga pose that strongly engages your core muscles. It also opens up your hips.
- Dolphin Pose. The dolphin pose might not look anything like a dolphin, but it generates a stretch in the calves, shoulders and hamstrings while strengthening the core and legs. For this reason, it’s one of the most important yoga poses for core strengthening.
- Chair Pose. This pose targets muscles that are often overlooked in a core yoga workout – the glutes and legs. Make sure you keep your weight on your heels as you squat down.
- Warrior 1. The final pose in our sequence is excellent for stretching the front of the body. It also provides a light stretch to the spine while improving your balance.
When performing this sequence, focus on engaging the muscles of the lower back and rest of the core. This ensures you’ll maintain proper alignment and build strength in your core muscles. Remember to breathe deeply and try to exhale as you contract your muscles.
There are many yoga postures for core strength, but the sequence in this article is a good place to start. Try to perform the sequence three times a week – but the more the better (within reason). It only takes a few minutes – and you’ll be surprised at the difference it can make!
Do you have any questions about yoga for core strength? Or have you tried this routine and want to give feedback? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!