Despite the hundreds of core exercises and combinations for workouts, all you really need for a basic core workout is a simple, beginner-level exercise for each part of the core. The core musculature is more than just the abdominals. The muscles of the lower back, glutes, hips and obliques also need exercise for a complete core workout. Start with five repetitions of each exercise and work up to 10 to 15 reps.
The muscle group known as the abs is actually the rectus abdominis. This is the abdomen muscle closest to the surface of the skin. A basic exercise that targets the abs is the supine pelvic tilt. To perform a pelvic tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your back arched toward the ceiling. Place your arms outstretched on the floor in line with your shoulders, then exhale to help tighten your abs and push your lower back flat without lifting your hips off the floor. Doing so tilts the pelvis.
Toning the transverse abdominis won't give you six-pack abs, but this muscle is arguably the most important muscle to work for core training. The transverse abdominis wraps horizontally across the front of your waist and stabilizes your spine. The half-kneeling lift with a medicine ball targets the this muscle. To perform this exercise, kneel on your right knee with your left knee up and hold a medicine ball near your right hip with your arms straight. Tighten your abs and raise your arms diagonally to the left above your right shoulder. Keep your lower back in a neutral position to challenge the transverse abdominis. Repeat on the other side.
The oblique muscles rotate and bend the torso. These muscles lie on the sides of the abdomen and cross in the manner of an X. A simple exercise to train the obliques is the segmental rotation. To perform the segmental rotation, begin lying down in the same starting position as the pelvic tilt. Twist your legs slowly from side to side without lifting your arms and shoulders off the floor.
Lower Back, Hips and Glutes
The lower back, hips and glutes assist the abs in stabilizing and moving the upper torso. These muscles are just as important to your core as the abs. To work all three groups together, perform the simple glute bridge exercise. Begin lying on your back with your arms on the floor at your sides and your knees bent. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your upper body and thighs form an unbroken line.