Core Conditioning: Everything You Need To Know [Exercises To Try]

Strengthening your core has many benefits, and at Fitkit, we are here to help you get abs of steel. Keep reading to learn how to train your core and the frequently asked questions about training your core. We’ve even thrown in some exercises to sculpt certain areas of your abs you can add directly to your workout regime. 

Woman crunching in gym

What are the benefits of having a strong core? 

When you have a strong core, there are lots of benefits that can help you whilst training but also in everyday life. Here are some benefits of having a strong core and why you should add core conditioning to your workout regime. 

Improved balance and stability

Having a strong core will help you with your balance and stability in everyday life. You will find that you will feel sturdier when walking down stairs, walking on slippery surfaces such as ice which will help you avoid falls or slips. Not only will training your core help with stability in the gym, but in everyday life tasks. 

Improved posture

If you have bad posture, this is typically because of weakened muscle in your core. By training your core, you are helping maintain your spine’s natural curvature and the neutral alignment of your pelvis. With improved posture, you will find it easier to breathe as your lungs will have more space to fill when expanding. 

Reduced back pain

Strengthening your core can help alleviate the pain for those who struggle with back problems. Training your core provides the spine with more support and can help prevent or reduce your back pain in everyday life with activities like lifting and bending down. 

Injury prevention

If you train regularly, an injury is the last thing you want to encounter. Training your core will allow you to maintain core strength and reduce the risk of injuries, such as muscle strains, disk protrusions and joint sprains. 

What muscles make up the abs?

If you are going to work out your abs, it is important to know which muscles make up the core and the exercises that will help you target them. The abs are made up of four main muscles or muscle groups, which include: 

Muscle groupFunction and position
Transversus abdominisThe transversus abdominis is known as the deepest layer of muscle in the core. It helps to extend the pelvis and ribs and wraps the whole core, including your back. 
Rectus abdominisKnown as the ‘six pack’, the rectus abdominis sits between the ribs and the front of the pelvis. It helps move the body from the ribcage to the pelvis and consists of six rigid bumps that can be worked to develop the abs.  
External oblique musclesThese muscles sit on either side of the rectus abdominis (six-pack), allowing your body to twist and turn. 
Internal oblique musclesLocated just inside the hipbones, the internal oblique muscles work in tandem with your external obliques. 

Developing all parts of your core is beneficial for core conditioning, and you will see improvements in a range of exercises when your core is engaged and strong. 

Do core workouts burn fat?

There’s a lot of misinformation about burning fat, but don’t worry, we are here to dispel the myths around ab workouts and fat loss. Regarding stomach fat, there are two types; subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. 

Subcutaneous fat is the fat you can pinch on your stomach between the skin and the muscles. In contrast, visceral fat is located in the abdominal cavity around the internal organs. You cannot burn fat in a specific area, but lowering your body fat with workouts and developing the strength of muscles can make them more visible. 

Do ab workouts strengthen your core?

Yes, ab workouts will strengthen your core! Exercising your abs will strengthen your core and help with common issues such as back pain and posture. Keep reading to learn the exercises you can add to your regime to strengthen your core muscles. 

Is it ok to do core workouts every day?

Training any muscle group every day isn’t beneficial. You can work elements of your abs within every workout, but training them intensely every day won’t help you get abs. Abs will come over time as you become leaner, and giving them a rest can help them to recover, and you will be able to train them more intensely. 

How long should a core workout take?

The duration of a core workout should depend on your fitness level, but when it comes to training abs – around 20 to 30 minutes is fine. You should concentrate on quality movements with good form over large rep counts for an effective ab workout. 

How many core workouts per week?

You should aim to train your core and abs around two to three times weekly. If you are new to training abs, you should start with simple movements, such as crunches, and then as you become more confident, develop this further. Switching up your routine as you train will help you target different parts of the core and reduce boredom from repetition. 

Woman doing a sit up

Can I do core workouts while pregnant?

When pregnant, you can maintain your fitness and keep your core engaged and strong. Doing so can help reduce back pain, and unless your doctor has advised you not to exercise or complete abdominal exercises, it can help you feel comfortable. Core exercises may become more difficult during your second trimester; make sure to only do what feels comfortable and seek advice from your doctor before you attempt any form of core strengthening during pregnancy. 

Why do my ribs hurt after a core workout?

Delayed onset muscle soreness (also known as DOMS) is common when strength training. Soreness in the ribs may be because of your exertion with core exercises that you may not have worked on before or in a long time. The soreness or pain should leave within a few days, but if it does not, it may not be DOMS, and you could have an injury – in this case, consult a doctor or professional for an opinion. 

Woman training core muscles on medicine ball

Core exercises to add to your routine

To gain strength in the upper region of your abs, make sure to add the following exercises to your ab workout. 

Ab rollout

To complete the ab rollout, you will need an ab wheel or a loaded barbell; you should find both of these pieces of equipment in your gym or check out the Jordan Fitness Power Wheel to use during home workouts. 

Ab rollout for core muscles

The ab rollout is designed to help lengthen the upper abs and target eccentric strength, and improving your core stability whilst in this extended position helps attract upper ab muscle fibres. 

  • Start by grabbing an ab wheel or loaded barbell and clearing some room for the extension movement. 
  • Grip the equipment placing your hands shoulder-width apart, and place it close to your knees.
  • Roll the equipment forwards extending your hips and chest to the floor. Keep your core engaged and fixed, and don’t let your back become loose and arch.
  • The further you extend, the harder the exercise will feel. If you are a beginner, make this range of movement shorter until you feel comfortable and confident to extend further. 
  • Squeeze your lat muscles, pull yourself back to the starting position, and repeat. 

Hanging knee raise

This exercise will help your overall core strength, focusing on the upper and lower abs. When completing this exercise, you will need something to hang from, so make sure you feel comfortable holding your body weight before attempting hanging knee raises. 

  • Hang from a bar with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width. 
  • Keep your feet together and raise your knees to your chest. 
  • Try and keep the swinging movement minimal, as this will engage your core, and the added tension will be what helps develop your core and abs. 
  • Repeat this until failure.

You can scale this exercise easily once you feel you have mastered it. Scaling this to toes to the bar may be difficult at first, but it is the natural progression of the movement. Instead of bringing your knees to your chest, keep your legs straight and bring your toes to the bar in a controlled movement. 

Hanging leg raises

Leg raises

Adding leg raises into your core workout can also help to build your core strength and require little to no equipment. 

  • Lay on your back with your hands by your sides on a fitness mat.
  • Keep the arch of your back down and your pelvis tucked under. 
  • Lift your toes up to the ceiling until your body is in an L shape. 
  • Slowly return your feet to the floor and repeat. 


A core exercise that engages and strengthens, planking should be a staple of your workout if you want to develop your core muscles. It is a scalable exercise, and if completed regularly, you will start to see great developments in the amount of time you can plank for. 

  • Get into a press-up position and place your body weight onto your forearms.
  • Once you are in this position, keep your core engaged and don’t let your back arch or drop to the floor. 
  • Stay in this position for as long as you can, or time some intervals and break in between sets. 

Fitkit’s Fit in 30 Ab Challenge

If you are looking for a challenge targeting your core, look at our Fit in 30 ab workout. This includes a core workout that will help you strengthen your core and a range of exercises that develop all areas of your abs. 

As you become more familiar with the workout, you can increase your reps and rounds and scale the workout to suit your needs. If you like the look of the challenge, you can also complete the full Fit in 30 challenge, which includes a wide variety of workouts, including yoga, lower body and HIIT challenges. 

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