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Functional Core Moves You May Not Be Doing

There's a lot more to having a strong and functional core than those often envied 6 pack muscles. These one's may look pretty, but being able to see a persons abs has more to do with their level of body fat than their strength, functionality and fitness.

Your 6 pack, or rectus abdominus, are certainly one part of your core but it actually comprises of the entire middle part of your body. Including the pelvic floor, hips, glutes, back, obliques and deep core or transverse abdominus muscles.


Our core muscles are used constantly - not just in the gym, but in our day to day lives. They help keep us upright, protect internal organs, maintain our posture and perform daily tasks, as well as play sport and exercise. A strong core is also important for injury prevention, balance and our ease of movement.

While there's nothing wrong with sit ups and planks, in order to strengthen our whole core we must move in a variety of different ways to challenge and therefore increase the strength of all the muscles in this area.

Below are some examples of exercises to help strengthen and create a strong and functional core. As with all exercise, it is important to maintain a strong 'mind to muscle' connection - actively think about the muscles being worked, rather than just going through the motions. Activate your core by drawing your stomach muscles in and up (not sucking in and holding your breath!), move slowly and complete each repetition mindfully.

Some of these exercises are more difficult than others and are in no particular order. Always work to your own level, choose appropriate weights and if you are finding something too challenging, come back to it in time. Most of all, enjoy the process!


Dead Bug

This is a great exercise as it requires only your own bodyweight, has modifications depending on your ability and can be done anywhere.

This exercise works your deep core, pelvic floor, obliques and 6 pack muscles.

If you are finding the movement of both arms and legs too challenging, begin with just the leg movements until you get the hang of it. Only bring your leg as low as is comfortable, without your back arching (in time this will get lower as you get stronger).

This is a helpful video on how to perform Dead Bugs correctly.

Swiss Ball ABC

This one is a level or two up from your standard Plank and is pretty challenging, I suggest beginning on your knees until you get a feel for it! We're adding a bit movement to challenge stability and balance, you'll also feel your shoulders and upper back working pretty hard. Remember to maintain that strong core connection, keeping a nice flat back, with your belly button drawn to your spine.

Here's how to do this exercise with great technique!

Farmers Carry

A seemingly simple but underrated functional and effective exercise. Essentially you are carrying something heavy in either one or both hands and walking - something we do every day, right?! This exercise really is working your full body, shoulders, arms, grip, abdominals, back and legs. Your core is working hard to stabilise you to keep you upright under load - doing this with a single weight challenges your stability further. Check out this video, pick a challenging weight and give the Farmers Carry a go this week! Remember to keep your shoulders back and down, chest proud and core braced.

Pallof Press

The Pallof Press is an anti-rotation exercise that can help with balance, posture, and coordination, as well as improving strength and stability. It uses a cable or resistance band to strengthen the core and improve stability under load - the cable or band will be pulling you one way, while you engage your muscles to resist. You will be working your abdominal muscles, as well as your glutes, shoulders and upper back - this is one of my fave exercises! Learn how to do the Pallof Press here.

Side Plank with Rotation

We're taking a standard Side Plank and adding movement to further challenge your strength and stability. This exercise targets your obliques (side abdominal muscles), and is also working the rest of your abdominal muscles, glutes, back, hips, shoulders and legs.

Make sure you have the stationary Side Plank mastered before you add the rotation - hips up, nice straight line from shoulder to ankle, belly button to spine and pushing your shoulder away from the floor. Try beginning on your knees to get a feel for the movement, then pop up to your toes when you're feeling confident! Here's a tutorial on how to do a Side Plank with Rotation with great form.


As with all exercise, ensure you always work to your own ability. Some of these may not be for you right now, but maybe they can be challenges to work towards!

If you have any questions about form, or would like some help with these or any other exercises in the gym, please feel free to reach out! Myself or one of the rest of the team are more than happy to help you out, that's what we're there for.

Likewise, if you would like to chat about programming, please be in touch.

Find me on Instagram - @kando_training, or Facebook - @KANdoTraining.

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