Kayla Itsines’ 5 Favourite Core Exercises That Require Zero Equipment
Did you know core exercises are actually essential to getting the most out of your workouts? “Switch on your core!” is one of those things we’ve all heard before, from our physios, pilates instructors or personal trainers. According to Sweat co-founder and personal trainer Kayla Itsines, it’s for good reason. Itsines says the core is an oft-forgotten, but essential, component of workout routines. We got the scoop on how the core works, why it’s so important and Itsines’ top 5 core workouts for getting fast results, at home, with no equipment necessary.
All About the Core:
Core muscles are found in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen. They work together to provide the balance and stability needed in everyday life, whether that’s carrying groceries or reaching a high shelf, and they need to be engaged during most exercises. However, because they don’t translate directly to shredded abs or massive calorie burns, they’re often skipped.
“Having a strong core is so important,” Itsines explains. “It provides multiple benefits including improved posture and improved balance.” Itsines believes that because “you will never see” most core muscles, many results-focused fitness routines skip these workouts.
“Core strength helps you complete other workouts more effectively – it helps you move through exercise movements with correct form. This is really important, especially when training with weights and avoiding injury” Itsines tells POPSUGAR Australia. Essentially, a strong core = better, more consistent workouts.
What’s the Best Core Strength Exercise?
“There are a variety of muscles that surround and support the core — each doing a slightly different job,” Itsines says. “Some muscles are there to stabilise your spine, while others are there to move your torso in different directions.”
Itsines recommends a combined approach, to ensure you’re not targeting only one part of your core.
“The one muscle group that could be visible only moves your torso in one direction, so only performing exercises that tone this group is leaving you open to imbalances and injury,” she explains.
The 5 Best Core Exercises:
You can make sure you’re working your whole core by incorporating a few different movements.
“Use a combination of movements that involve isometric exercise,” Itsines tells us. An easy way to make sure you’re getting it right is checking that you’re performing prone (facing down) and supine (facing up) exercises that will target different muscle groups from different exercises.
- Commando Planks
Commando planks provide stability through movement, they involve all the benefits of a standard plank but incorporate shoulder and upper arm strength. Access full instructions for the Commando Plank via Sweat.
2. Side Planks
Side Planks work the side muscles of your core, known as your obliques.
Crunches and forward-facing planks increase strength in the centre of your body, toned obliques will improve your lateral stability while defining your waist as an added bonus. See how to side blank here.
3. Bent-Leg Raise
The bent-leg raise works your lower abdominals and hip flexors. This is a great exercise for improving the flexibility of the lower back, and also works your legs. It’s a great exercise if you spend a lot of time sitting, or you’re prone to lower back pain. Check out best form for a bent leg raise here.
4. Mountain Climber
As with the commando plank, the mountain climber works your core and larger muscle groups. You’ll get the benefits of central core strength while working out your arms, abs and legs and increasing your agility and balance. Practice your mountain climber here.
Want to Add Equipment?
In the event you do want to add equipment (most of us have some neglected lockdown purchases lying around after all) Itsines’ favourite versatile accessories for home use are dumbbells and resistance bands. “Resistance bands don’t take up much space, and you can use them for a variety of upper body, lower body and core exercises to challenge yourself a little bit more.”
Her other picks are dumbbells. “Dumbells are a great way to scale the intensity of your workout. Having a lighter pair of 3-5kg, and a heavier pair (6-8kg) will provide enough resistance for most exercises you can perform at home.”
At POPSUGAR Australia we love Bala Bangles ($75). They’re fully adjustable wearable wrist and ankle weights that make ramping up your workout routine easy. For resistance bands, the ES Fit, Resistance Bands – 5 Pack ($60) are sturdy and easy to grip, and provide five levels so you can dial up intensity depending on your workout.
As a note, this uncoordinated, gangly writer uses 1-2kg Bala Bangles, so go with your own flow!
You can access full workouts from Kayla Itsines, and other Sweat trainers, via the Sweat App. For $11.99 a month, access 35 unique programs including yoga, boxing, pilates and barre.