The 6 Best Functional Core Exercises to Sculpt Your Waist

Functional core exercises support movement in your daily life, like carrying heavy groceries.
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What does it mean when you hear the words "functional core exercises?" We're talking about moves that help support what you do in your day-to-day activities. And these aren't just your traditional sit-ups and crunches.


It's important to make sure you're doing regular workouts that enhance your life and support everything you do, like carrying heavy groceries, picking up your pets or kids or squatting down to grab something that fell.


The following exercises are an all-inclusive approach to targeting the muscles in your stomach, pelvis, lower back and hips to improve overall strength, stability and mobility, plus prevent injury. What can be better than that?

Things You'll Need

  • 1 medium or heavy weight

  • An exercise mat is optional, but recommended

1. Squat With Rotation

Time 50 Sec
  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and brace your core. Focus on keeping your feet rooted into the ground and your core tight the entire time.
  2. Place both hands behind your head, keeping your elbows open wide. (You can also hold a weight underneath your chin to make this exercise harder.)
  3. Slowly bend your knees as you push your hips back to lower toward the floor. Focus on lowering your body as if you were going to sit on a chair.
  4. Lower down as far as comfortable, or until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  5. Pause for a moment at the bottom of your squat.
  6. Reverse the motion by pressing through your heels to return to standing.
  7. Lift your right knee to your chest and, keeping your chest and elbows open, rotate your torso so your left elbow meets your right knee.
  8. Return to the starting position.
  9. Squat down again, then repeat on the opposite side.

2. Kneeling Windmill

Time 50 Sec
  1. Start in a a half-kneeling position with your left knee on the ground, and your right foot on the floor, right leg bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Make sure your right knee is stacked on top of your right ankle.
  3. Hold a weight in your right hand and press it overhead, locking your arm straight and stacking it on top of your right shoulder.
  4. Keep your eyes on the weight and reach your left hand to the floor.
  5. Once your left palm is flat on the floor, return your left arm back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Side Plank Reach-Through

Time 50 Sec
  1. Start lying on your right side and propped up on your right elbow. Your right elbow should always be directly under your right shoulder to avoid putting too much pressure on your shoulder. Your legs should be straight with your feet stacked one on top of the other.
  2. Raise your left arm straight up toward the sky.
  3. Pop your hips up off the ground. Make sure that your hips are pushed forward. The goal is to be as straight as possible.
  4. Drop your left hand down and weave your arm underneath the right side of your body like you’re threading a needle.
  5. Keeping your hips stacked and your body balanced, reach underneath yourself, drop your left shoulder down and rotate it down toward the floor.
  6. Return to your starting position.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Wood Chop

Time 50 Sec
  1. Stand tall with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Hold a dumbbell with both hands on the outside of your left thigh.
  2. Lift the dumbbell diagonally up across your body, slowly twisting your torso to the right side, and finishing with the dumbbell to the right side overhead. Your left heel might lift slightly as you pivot to twist your torso.
  3. Hold the dumbbell in this position for one count and then bring the weight back down diagonally to the left side.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Dead Bug Crunch

Time 50 Sec
  1. Lie flat on your back with both hands behind your head.
  2. Lift your feet off the ground so your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Keep your lower back in contact with the floor through the entire duration of the exercise.
  4. Slowly and with control, extend your right arm and right leg away from each other.
  5. Lower your limbs as far as you can while keeping your lower back on the ground. Fight the impulse to arch your back by tightening your abs, pressing your bellybutton down to anchor your lower back to the floor.
  6. Exhale as you return your right arm and right leg to the starting position with the same slow, controlled movement.
  7. Repeat with your left arm and left leg, then return to center again.

6. Cross-Body Mountain Climber

Time 50 Sec
  1. Press up into a high plank position like you're about to do a push-up, with hands beneath the shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Feet should be shoulder-width apart and anchored to the floor on the balls of your feet.
  3. Keep your hips level and don't let your lower back sag.
  4. Bring your left knee toward your right elbow, engaging your abs at the same time.
  5. Return your left knee to starting position.
  6. Bring your right knee toward your left elbow, then shoot it back, switching legs at your desired pace.

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