If you’re just setting out on a fitness kick, strengthening your core is a great place to start. This will ensure that you have the foundations in place to help you carry on with your chosen type of exercise – whatever it is – in the long term, and build functional strength that carries over into everyday life.
You can get started on your training with these bodyweight core exercises from The Body Coach trainer Leroy Andre Williamson (opens in new tab). Williamson is an ambassador for Lululemon (opens in new tab), and the company has released its second annual Global Wellbeing Report, which highlighted that exercise can increase a sense of wellbeing.
“This strengthens your lower body and core muscles,” says Williamson. “Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your chest up. Bend at your knees and hips, pushing your bum out like you’re going to sit on a chair. Squat down until your knees are bent at 90°. Ensure your knees are behind your toes. Hold at the bottom for a second with your back straight, then push through your heels to stand back up.”
“The plank strengthens your body from head to toe, but the real focus is on your core,” says Williamson. “It can help to reduce lower-back pain and improve your ability to perform your daily tasks.
“Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows underneath your shoulders. Engage your core by imagining you’re pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine. Squeeze your glutes and hold your body off the floor in a straight line. Don’t forget to breathe!”
“This lunge variation works your inner and outer thighs to improve your agility,” says Williamson.
“Take a big step out to the side, bend one knee and push your hips back as your other leg stays straight. Return to standing by pushing off the foot of your bent leg. You can do all reps on the same leg and then swap, or alternate sides with each rep.”
Standing mountain climber
“This variation of mountain climbers works your muscles without putting pressure on your wrists,” says Williamson. “It gets the blood pumping and challenges your coordination.
“Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your side. Bring your right knee up to waist height and reach your left arm to the sky. Return to the starting position and alternate sides, building up speed.”
Bum kicks with row
“This is great for people who sit down for much of the day,” says Williamson. “The kicks get the blood pumping and fire up the hamstrings, and the added row opens up the shoulders.
“Stand with your feet about hip-distance apart, with your arms held out in front of you. Slowly bring your right heel to your right glute as you squeeze both of your elbows back like you’re pulling a bar into your stomach. Place your foot back on the floor as you reach your arms forwards. Then slowly bring your left heel to your buttocks and pull your elbows back. Keep alternating heels and gradually build up speed.”
“Jacks work all the major muscles in your lower body and increase your fitness levels with high-intensity cardio,” says Williamson.
“Stand straight with your legs together and arms at your sides. Bend your knees slightly as you jump your legs out just wider than shoulder-width apart and stretch your arms out overhead like you are a star. Jump back to the starting position and repeat. To make this exercise low-impact, step one leg out, then bring it back to the middle, and alternate.”
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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