What's the fastest way to strengthen my core?

Jun 22, 2023

It’s a question I’m often asked by clients: ‘How can I strengthen my core quickly?’

Here, I want to share five things to focus on if you’re keen to build your core in the right way, fast.

  1.  Build your entire core, don't focus only on the abdominal wall

For true core strength, you’ll need to focus on building those deep core muscles, not just the rectus abdominus and the obliques. The diagram on the tutorial above gives a good overview of the muscles involved, from the thoracolumbar fascia at the back to the abdominal fascia at the front. For core strength, stability and endurance we need to make sure all these muscles are working as efficiently as they can, in a balanced way, front to back and left to right.

You can work on this using static exercises like the plank, side plank, bird dog and bridge.

  1.  Start making your exercises dynamic

Once you’ve mastered the exercises in step one, start making these same exercises dynamic so you can challenge more muscles while you work. You can try this with each of the different exercises, but here’s the example of the plank.

First, start with a basic plank, lift your arm, then roll into a side plank. This will allow you to challenge the abdominal or front musculature, or anterior musculature. And by lifting an arm you’ll start to engage the hips as well. When you roll up to the side you’ll be encouraging the obliques to work with the ql, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus all the way through the exercise. You can then roll back down and repeat on the other side. Practise this and you’ll be setting the muscles up nicely for the next stage.

Do you want to Build the Ultimate Core Strength & Stability? Click Here to start my How to Build Core Strength & Stability 12-Week Online Program. Use the code BLOG10 for 10% off

  1.  Moving light weights fast

Adding weights to your workout in will allow you to change the way the muscles work. Adding a kettlebell, for example, can help to challenge the core.

Swing the kettlebell like a golf swing, from left to right, rotating from the hips, and you’ll use those core muscles to hold your body in position. Next, drop the kettlebell so it goes around the back of your body coming up and up to the opposite shoulder. This challenges the muscles, not only on the front and sides, but going diagonally from top to bottom and bottom to top too.

If you need to see a demonstration, watch the tutorial above, or take a look at my online 12-week program. This will take you through the fundamentals and get you to these intermediate and advanced workouts that will work the muscles as a whole rather than individually.

  1.  Use whole body exercises

Once we've built the foundation by maintaining the spine, challenging the muscles and building the core up, and we’ve started to introduce some small movements by integrating the hips and shoulders, we can bring in full body movements. This means we’re not just challenging the core to work, but the legs too. And we’re also challenging our grip strength, and in some respects arm strength and upper back strength as well.

My suggestion here is to introduce squats and deadlifts. I like to describe this as building the body from the ground up. It’s vitally important you get the foundations in place first.

  1.  Goal setting, measuring and testing

Without an outcome, we can’t measure progress. That’s why whenever I work with someone I make sure we have a clear goal, perhaps something as simple as planking for two minutes. As long as it’s an objective outcome, it allows us to measure where we are and work towards achieving our goal. You might be able to plank for 30 seconds at the start, and by the time you finish you reach the goal of two minutes. There is an objective progression in your ability and your core endurance strength and stability.

But it’s maybe not quite that simple. We wouldn't try to progress the plank by only using the plank. We might use the side plank and bird dog so we're building all the way around the torso, which is only going to enhance how the plank works and your ability to hold it. If you just performed the plank repeatedly, you may get slightly better at it. But if you do the plank, the side plank and the bird dog your progress will grow exponentially, because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Do you want to Build the Ultimate Core Strength & Stability? Click Here to start my How to Build Core Strength & Stability 12-Week Online Program. Use the code BLOG10 for 10% off

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