Core Exercises for Women and Why You Need to Add Them to Your Workout

Core exercises for women: woman lifting a barbell
Core exercises for women: woman lifting a barbell

The core is at the center of our body. It's more than just the abdominal muscles — it encompasses your abs, back, and hips. Working out your core is important because it provides the base foundation of physical strength. 

TL;DR: If your core is weak, it makes it hard to hit your fitness goals. 

If you want to learn how to work out your core correctly, you came to the right place. Having gym selfie-worthy abs is excellent, but knowing why you should focus on your ab strength will motivate you to do those workouts.

Grab your blender bottle, throw in some pre-workout powder, and get your mat. We’re talking all things core exercises for women today!  

Why Core Strength Matters

Core exercises for women: woman balancing on one leg

You can feel the impact of a strong (and weak) core even in simple movements such as walking, running, or climbing up the stairs. 

If you have a strong core, you may notice that you have better posture. If you have a weak core, you may lose your balance more easily or have lower back pain.

Some may think that posture is just about standing upright and looking good. But no, proper posture is more than just, well, about having good posture — it improves spine health, improves muscle and joint function, reduces or eliminates back pain, and even boosts your mood.

Core strength is vital because it provides overall stability and balance for all of your movements like walking, bending, lifting, carrying, and reaching — not to mention your workouts and sports activities.

The 4 Main Abdominal Muscle Groups

Core exercises for women: woman stretching her side

While the core is more than just the abs, the abs are a central part of the core. It’s essential to know the muscle groups involved in your abs, so you know how to target each one. Our abdominals have four main muscle groups: 

1. Transversus Abdominis

Transversus abdominis is the deepest muscle layer of your ab muscle group. It's responsible for stabilizing your trunk and pelvis as you move your arms or legs.

2. Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis is the ab muscle between the ribs and the pubic bone at the front of our pelvis. Rectus abdominis is easily recognizable because this muscle group is also what we call the “six-pack” or “six-pack abs.”

3. External Obliques

Your external oblique muscles are on each side of the rectus abdominis. They allow your body to twist — when you turn your body to the right, the left side of your external oblique muscles contract, and vice versa.

4. Internal Obliques

Your internal oblique muscles are inside your hip bones. Both the right side and left side of your internal obliques work together to flex your trunk, like when you're doing sit-ups. Or, they can work independently to let you bend to one side or the other.

8 of the Best Core Exercises for Women

Core exercises for women: woman doing dumbbell rows

Now, let’s talk about the core exercises you can add to your workout routine! None of them require any equipment, just your body weight.

Here are eight powerful core exercises for women:

  1. Plank
  2. Side plank
  3. Dead bug
  4. Push-ups
  5. Sit-ups
  6. Panther shoulder tap
  7. Body saw
  8. Bear crawl

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1. High Plank

Core exercises for women: woman doing a high plank

A high plank is a lighter version of a forearm plank. It is a crucial move for beginners but still engages the core of someone more advanced. 

​How to:

  1. To begin, get on all fours on a mat. With your hands on the floor, position your arms stretched out and feet stretched to the back. 
  2. From there, simply remain in the position until you reach your target time. For beginners, 15-30 seconds is a good starting target. 
  3. That’s one rep. You can repeat the plank for up to 3-4 sets.

2. Side Plank

Core exercises for women: woman doing a side plank

The side plank is a common upper body exercise that engages your entire core. Not only does it strengthen your core muscles, but it works your arms and legs. 

How to: 

  1. Lay on your right side in a straight line with your feet stacked on top of each other.. Position your right forearm flat on the floor, pointing away from you while your right elbow rests under your shoulders. Position your left arm on top of your body’s left side.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground. You should end up with your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Your right elbow is directly under your shoulders.
  3. For more of a challenge, raise your left (free) hand to the air.
  4. Hold for at least 15 seconds. The goal is to hold for 60 seconds.
  5. Switch sides and repeat on your left side. Do 2-3 side planks on each side for maximum results.

3. Dead Bug

Woman doing dead bug exercises

The dead bug is an effective exercise that you can add to any workout. Whether you're completing a HIIT workout, doing a few exercises with cardio, or zeroing in on ab exercises, this is a great option.

How to:

  1. Lay on your back, and raise both your arms and legs in the air. Position your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lower your right arm backward (stretched out completely) and your left leg forward. 
  3. Hold for a moment, then bring them back to their original position.
  4. Repeat with the left arm and right leg
  5. That’s one rep. For maximum results, repeat for 10-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

4. Push-Ups 

Woman doing push-ups

This full-body workout engages your core, strengthens your arm and shoulder muscles, and works your legs. Pushups are a great exercise to add to any full-body workout routine, primarily focused on your lower abs

How to: 

  1. Lay on the mat, stomach first. Placing your hands shoulder width apart, place your hands on the mat directly under your shoulders.
  2. Shift your body weight to have your feet separated by a foot, while using your toes to balance. You are essentially bringing yourself into a plank position
  3. From there, lower your body until your chest nearly touches the ground.
  4. Once lowered, take a slight pause, then push yourself back up again as you exhale
  5. That’s one rep. For maximum results, repeat for 10-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

5. Sit-Ups

Woman doing sit-ups

One of the more famous core exercises for women is sit-ups. By keeping your lower body still, this movement engages your upper body, focusing on your core muscles.

How to:

  1. Begin by lying with your back on the ground. 
  2. Pull up your knees so that they’re at a 45-degree angle, and keep your head on the ground. 
  3. Cross both of your arms on your chest to create the starting position. You can make it a bit more challenging by placing your hands behind your head instead of crossing your arms on your chest. If you do, keep your elbows pointed out so that you're not tempted to pull on your neck.
  4. Lift your torso up and bring it as close to your thighs as possible.
  5. Slowly lower your torso back to the original position.
  6. That’s one rep. For maximum results, repeat for 10-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

6. Panther Shoulder Tap

This dynamic move targets your abs, lower back, and shoulders. If you're just beginning, you can modify this stretch by simply holding the tabletop position and waiting to add in the shoulder taps. 

  1. To start, get on all fours (tabletop position) with your toes curled underneath your feet. 
  2. Lift your knees slightly off the ground, which will activate your abs. Be sure that your back is engaged and steady.
  3. From there, simply tap your shoulders alternately. For maximum results, repeat for 10-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

7. Body Saw

Woman doing body saw

If you're tired of basic planks, give the body saw a go. It's an effective isometric exercise that requires little movement but provides a big burn. 

  1. Start in a straight plank position with your legs hip-width apart. Place your elbows on the ground.
  2. Position your feet close together.
  3. “Glide” your body forward and backward by bending and straightening your ankles. Be sure to keep a proper posture as you do with this movement. Do not lift your body or go too low throughout the exercise.
  4. That’s one rep. For maximum results, repeat for 10-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

8. Bear Crawl

The bear crawl is a no-equipment full-body burner. It works your midsection as well as your glutes, hamstrings, and low back. Give it a try if you're looking to level up your workouts. 

  1. To start, get on all fours. Bend your elbows just slightly outward, and lift your knees slightly off the ground.
  2. Be sure to keep your knees lifted and your elbows pointed outward for the duration of the workout.
  3. Pick up your left hand and right foot as you move forward. Then, move your right hand and left foot forward at the same time. This movement is the “crawl.” Make sure to keep your tailbone aligned with your head as you complete this exercise.
  4. Crawl for 10 steps on each side.
  5. Once you reach the end, move backward by reversing the movement. Continue doing so until you reach your starting position.
  6. That’s one rep. For maximum results, repeat 2-3 sets.

3 Workouts That Can Compliment Ab Workouts

Woman doing rope exercises

Adding core exercises for women to your fitness routine will get you faster and more long-lasting results. Three workouts that align well are pilates, cardio, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

1. Pilates

Pilates focuses on muscular strength, endurance movements, and low-impact flexibility. As an exercise, Pilates directly works out your core strength, muscular balance, and posture.

2. Cardio

Cardio focuses on pushing and increasing your heart rate. Research shows that cardio helps burn belly fat, so while it may not directly build ab muscles, it helps slim down your torso. 


HIIT broadly refers to any workout routine that involves an alternating phase of short, intense exercise with brief recovery periods. The idea of HIIT is to push your body to the maximum intensity possible under a minimal amount of time.

HIIT is both cardio and muscle-building, and that being said, HIIT can work on your abs by burning your belly fat and strengthening your ab muscles. The best HIIT ab workouts include planks, bicycle crunches, mountain climbers, and Russian twists.

These high-intensity workouts also help your body burn excess fat, which can emphasize your abs more. 

Get Your Core in Shape

Woman doing a headstand

Adding core workouts to your weekly fitness regime is all you need to take your abs to the next level. Whether you’re looking to gain picturesque abs or increase strength, these movements will help get you there. Core exercises for women build muscle, increase stability, and support balance. 

Try pairing your ab workouts with Flare, our #1 fat burner. It can help you drop water weight, boost energy, reduce stress, increase fat loss, and improve your mood.

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