A Breakdown of Your Main Core Muscle Groups and the 3 Moves That Tone Each One

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When I hear the words “core workout,” I don’t ask questions, I usually just sign on with dreams of a six-pack. The funny thing is, I can’t even list what muscles make up the core, let alone know if I’m targeting them all equally with said workouts.

This realization quickly turned into a mini identity crisis that has me questioning everything about my fitness habits. Luckily, ACE-certified personal trainer and the CEO of Model Trainers Sean Alexander has some answers.

“Your core is composed of many muscles in the abdomen, hips, back, butt, and legs – it’s necessary to work all of these muscles when training your core,” Alexander says.

For improved posture, boosted balance, and a healthier back (just a few pros of a strong core), Alexander says to focus on these seven muscle groups: the rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, serratus anterior, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and hip flexors.

“A very simple workout that can be performed to target all of the muscles comprising your core includes only three movements: the full crunch, bicycle crunch, and hanging leg raises,” Alexander says.

Since these moves require zero weight, he adds that the risk of injury is quite low. Even better, the exercises can double as a warmup because they loosen up the spine and initiate blood flow throughout the body.

However, you do need a cooldown following Alexander’s three-move workout. He recommends walking for 10-15 minutes on a treadmill at a slight incline, or performing a very slow recovery yoga flow with poses like Upward-Facing Dog to stretch out the abdominal wall.

Related: I'm a Trainer: If You Want a Stronger Core, These Are the 11 Exercises You Need to Do

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