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Core Workouts For Men: How To Build a Solid Midsection

By: Holly Smith, D.O. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Core workouts for men
Building a strong core is the foundation of any workout program. Having a tight, sculpted midsection is the goal of many men when they set out on a new exercise routine. But a strong core is not just about having six-pack abs.

core muscles - core workouts for menWhile the abdominal muscles make up much of the core, there are a number of other muscle groups that contribute, including muscles in the hips, pelvis and lower back.

These muscles are sometimes referred to as the lumbopelvic-hip complex, and they must all be targeted to achieve a strong core.

Targeting the entire core will lead to improved balance, coordination, and stability.

This, in turn, will help to reduce injuries while working out, or even just performing everyday activities. Numerous studies have looked at the relationship between core strength, and low back and lower extremity injuries.

A meta-analysis of these articles came to the conclusion that a comprehensive training program that includes core stabilizing workouts is necessary to meet the demands associated with daily activities, exercise, and sports training (1).

Other Benefits Of Core Workouts For Men

Core exercises have also been found to be beneficial for reducing chronic pain. For instance, one study looking at the effectiveness of core stabilization exercises found that core strengthening is more effective in reducing low back pain when compared to regular physical therapy exercises (2).
Functional exercise - core workouts
Core strengthening exercises have also been found to improve muscle imbalances, posture, and enhance cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and strength in patients with low back pain (3).

Strong core muscles will allow you to perform other activities with more strength and ease. Daily activities like lifting items around the house or working outside require strong core muscles.

Even recreational activities like playing golf or running rely on strong core muscles to avoid injury and improve performance. In order to be in the best shape of your life, it really does start with a strong core.

How To Incorporate Core Workouts For Men

The Fit Father Project strives to provide comprehensive workouts and fitness regimens that incorporate core strength and muscle building, such as those included in our free workout.
Russian twist - Core workouts for men
These workouts are great for busy men to achieve their fitness goals.

There are numerous other core workouts that men can add to their fitness routine. One crucial point to remember with any activity is to add variety and to train the muscles from different angles.

Using different movements allows you to get the most out of your workouts. It is about quality and not necessarily quantity when doing core exercises.

Slow, deliberate movements will really test the core muscles and build definition. Check out some of the core workouts for men below that specifically target the midsection.

Including three to five of these core workouts for men, three times weekly into your exercise routine will have you well on your way to a sculpted, strong core.

Ten Essential Core Workouts For Men

    • Medicine Ball Twists:

Medicine ball twist - Core workouts for menSit on the floor with your knees bent. Hold a medicine ball at chest level with your arms straight out. Lean back slightly into a “V” position.

Keep your back straight. Without moving your torso, rotate your arms far to the left, then far to the right. That’s one rep. Continue back and forth as fast as you can.

For beginners, you can start without the medicine ball and simply clasp your hands in front of you and move your hands' side to side, touching the ground.

Try to perform 12-15 reps.

    • Hanging Leg Raise:

Grab onto a pull-up bar with hands about shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your feet together. Keep your legs straight as you raise them into an L-position.

Slowly lower your legs back into the starting position. Repeat 8-10 times. Try not to swing your body and really engage your abdominal muscles to form your body into an L-position instead of using body momentum.

    • Side Crunches:

Lie on your right side. Rest your right hand on your chest or left shoulder and place your left hand behind your head.

Crunch your torso toward your left hip as you raise the left hip into the air simultaneously. Pause and then return to the starting position. Aim for 12-15 reps.

    • Plank Variations:

Planks are a great core strength and stabilizing exercise. There are numerous variations to target the core at all angles.

With correct form, planks will work your abs, low back, and hips. You will also feel this somewhat in your shoulders and upper back depending on the variation.

Side Plank:

Side plank - Core workouts for menThis is a great move to strengthen your obliques and hip muscles. Lie on your left side, propping your upper body up with your left elbow and forearm and keeping your knees straight.

Raise your hips so that your torso is slightly above parallel to the floor and your body is in a straight line from your head to ankles.

Hold for ten seconds if this is your first try at these. Gradually try to hold this position for longer periods of time as you gain strength.

Elbow Plank:

Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and toes. Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your low back and butt from sticking up in the air.

Keep your back flat throughout the exercise. Hold for as long as you can. Aim for 10-20 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute (or longer!) as you get stronger.

Single Arm Plank:

Get into the elbow plank position as above with your elbows bent and your weight resting on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line.

Raise your right arm until it’s in line with your body as you engage your abs. Try to keep your back straight and not tilt your hips to either direction.

Try to hold for 10 seconds to start and then gradually increase the time as you gain strength. Repeat with your other arm.

By raising the arm you are forcing the core to stabilize your body to a greater degree than if both arms were on the ground.

Bird-Dog Plank:

Begin in a push-up position, with your arms extended and hands on the floor, wrists under your shoulders. Lift your right leg straight behind you, then lift your left arm straight in front of you.

Keep your body in a straight line from fingertip to toe. This is a very challenging balance move that will force you to contract and engage your core muscles throughout to maintain balance.

Do not be discouraged if you cannot hold this for more than a few seconds at first. Gradually increase your time as your core strength and balance improves.

    • Supermans:

Superman exercise - Core workoutsThis is an excellent move that targets the low back muscles. You will also feel this in your glutes, hamstrings, and upper back.

Lie on your stomach with your neck and spine in neutral position. Extend both arms and both legs at once as if you’re Superman flying through the air.

Your waist and belly button should be the only things touching the floor. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds and build up time in increments as you progress.

    • Reverse Crunches:

This move is an excellent way to target the lower abs and low back and is great at improving posture.

Lie on your back with your legs fully extended and arms to the side of your torso with the palms on the floor. Your arms should be stationary for the entire exercise.

Lift your feet up so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and parallel to the floor.

Inhale and bring your legs towards the torso as you roll your pelvis backwards and you raise your hips off the floor. At the end of this movement, your knees will be touching your chest.

Hold the contraction for a second and move your legs back to the starting position while exhaling.

    • Bird-Dog:

Get down on a mat on your hands and knees. Keep your spine and neck in a neutral position. Simultaneously extend your left leg behind you and reach your right arm forward, while keeping yourself stable and core engaged.

Hold for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat, extending your right leg and left arm. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps. This is a great hip stabilizing exercise that will also strengthen the low back.

    • Hollow Body Hold:

Lie on your back and contract your abs, pulling the belly button towards the floor. Slowly raise your shoulders and legs from the ground with your arms and legs fully extended and toes pointed.

Your arms and head should be raised along with the shoulders. Try to keep your lower back in contact with the floor.

The goal is to find the lowest position that you can hold the arms and legs, without them touching the floor and without breaking lower back contact.

Hold this position for 20 seconds. Gradually increase the time as you gain strength.

    • Hip/Glute Bridge:

Glute bridge - Core workouts for menThis is a great core exercise for the lumbopelvic-hip complex and the hamstrings as well.

Lie flat on your back with your hands by your sides and your knees bent. Keep your feet on the floor about hip-width distance apart. Push your hips up off the floor, keeping your back straight.

Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Start by holding at the top position for 15 seconds and gradually try to increase the time as you gain strength. Aim for 8-10 reps.

    • Flutter Kicks:

Sit with your back leaned back at a 45-degree angle with your legs straight and your arms extended at either side.

Lift your heels about 6″ off the ground and flutter kick in a quick motion. See how long you can last and work up as you improve.

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Take Action With These Core Workouts For Men

As you can see, core workouts for men include so much more than just crunches. The core is an entire group of muscles in the abdominals, low back, hips, and pelvis that help stabilize the body for all exercises and activities of daily living.

Core workout for menA strong core is the foundation to build up the muscles in the entire body and is essential for overall health and fitness.

Including the above core workouts for men will allow you to maintain proper form and posture and reduce the risk of injuries or chronic pain.

And working out the core is not just confined to specific “core” days. Pretty much every weight lifting move you perform involves core stabilization.

Make sure to focus on really engaging the core throughout all of your exercises to maintain proper form.

Whether this is during lunges, shoulder presses, or standing curls, engaging the core will allow you to not only strengthen the core muscles but also to perform whatever move you are doing to its maximum muscle building potential.

The Fit Father Project also includes some other great workouts and meal plans that will help you enhance your core strength. Check out these great free meal plans and workouts here.

On top of this, the Fit Father Project offers the Fit Father 30X (FF30X) training plan. This is a comprehensive nutrition and exercise plan that will have you on the way to not just a sculpted core, but an overall healthier and stronger physique.

With so many excellent options, there’s no reason to not get started today!

Your new coach and friend,

Holly Smith D.O. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on core workouts for men.


1) Huxel Bliven KC, Anderson BE. Core stability training for injury prevention. Sports Health. 2013;5(6):514–522. doi:10.1177/1941738113481200

2) Akhtar MW, Karimi H, Gilani SA. Effectiveness of core stabilization exercises and routine exercise therapy in management of pain in chronic non-specific low back pain: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Pak J Med Sci. 2017;33(4):1002–1006. doi:10.12669/pjms.334.12664

3) Aashima Datta, Siddhartha Sen, Shivpriya (2014) Effects of Core Strengthening on Cardiovascular Fitness, Flexibility and Strength on Patients with Low Back Pain. J Nov Physiother 2:202. doi: 10.4172/2165-7025.1000202


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