The Best Core Exercises For Women

Side plank
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you know Coach, you know we love to encourage people to work on their core. It’ll result in a wealth of improvements, including enhanced performance in sports and the gym, better posture and increased protection against lower back pain.

So we asked Tig Hodson and Sam Prynn, founders of women-only gym StrongHer, for their recommendations for core moves for women.

“There are no exercises that are specific to men or women per se,” says Hodson. “However, there are some which we have found are more suited to women thanks to common types of posture and having had children.”

We also have a couple of moves recommended by England netball captain and Lucozade Sport ambassador Serena Guthrie. You’ll find those below Hodson and Prynn’s favourites.

Once you’ve mastered the exercises below, have a go at this core workout for women then graduate to our strength training for women workouts with this beginner home workout plan.

Core Exercises From StrongHer

Dead bug

Dead bug exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is one that you’ll see us doing in any session. Lie on the floor with your arms extended above your chest, and legs held up. Focus on keeping your lower back pressed into the floor. Keeping the movement nice and slow, extend one arm and the opposing leg away from your body. Return to the start position then repeat, switching sides each time. Perform the exercises for around 45 seconds, completing two to three sets.

Pallof press

You’ll need a resistance band for this one. Tie your band to something (balcony/door handle/partner) and stand sideways to the anchor with your band held by your bellybutton. Keep your knees soft and squeeze that butt! Keeping your hips and body still, extend your arms straight out in front of you and don’t allow the band to pull you towards whatever it is tied to. To make this harder, add more resistance by stepping further away from where the band is tied.

Side plank

Side plank

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We aren’t huge fans of a regular plank, but we’re all over the side plank. It works your obliques and is a great exercise for any woman who is pre or post natal. Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow. Keep one leg stacked on top of the other (try to avoid letting your hips drop back) and lift your body into a straight line – try not to overextend by pushing your hips too high. Hold for anywhere between 20-45 seconds. To progress this, lift your top leg so you’re in a star shape.

Core Exercises From England Netball Captain Serena Guthrie

V-sit and hold


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This always gets your core muscles shaking! Lie on your back and contract your abdominal muscles while lifting your legs up to a 45° angle with the floor. Slowly reach your hands towards your shins and hold for two seconds, then slowly reset to the starting position. Try three sets of eight to 10 reps – and remember to breathe!

Plank with arm and leg raises

Plank with arm and leg raise

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Get into a plank position, facing the floor and supporting yourself on your forearms and toes, with your body forming a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Raise your right arm in front of you and at the same time raise your left leg off the ground. Hold for two seconds, then lower both your arm and leg and repeat with the opposite limbs. Maintain a strong plank position throughout. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps on each side.

More Workouts And Exercises For Women

Jonathan Shannon

Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.

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