Fitness, Whole Health

Abs, Core and Glutes – what is it?

There are the abs then the core muscles and, finally, the glutes.

Improve your total body health by training these areas of your body.  The results will be increased strength, stability and balance.

What muscles are involved?

The body’s core muscles include:

  • abs (abdominal muscles)
  • back muscles
  • pelvic floor muscles
  • glutes (buttocks)
  • other torso muscles.

What exercises are best for strengthening these muscles?

Planks and plank variations, abdominal bridges, reverse crunches, leg raises, and chin-ups are some good exercises for building the core muscles, the plank being one of the best.  The plank is a simple isometric exercise that can engage more than 20 muscles, including the abs, back, arms, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings – depending on the variation of plank being   performed.

Planks are a simple exercise that can be done at home, negating the necessity of going to the gym.

There are many variations that include the side plank, forearm plank, hover plank, walking plank, extended plank, Bosu topside plank, single arm plank, plank hip dips,  reverse plank, and (on a stability ball):  plank crunches & plank pike-ups & plank rollouts. 

Planks increase strength along with contouring the obliques and help with posture and physique.

Begin with the two planks variations described below.  Start out holding each move for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, adding a few seconds at each work out.



Prone Plank

  1. Begin by supporting your body weight on just the toes and elbows, resting on the forearms.
  2. Tighten your abs (abdominal muscles) to stabilize the trunk, and rise up.
  3. Keep forearms parallel to each other with hands flat on the ground, or clasped together – whatever works best for you.
  4. Chin should be tucked; maintain good neck alignment with the trunk; keep eye gaze between hands; do not allow trunk to sag or hips to pike up.
  5. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Slowly lower down, keeping back straight.
  7. Repeat.



Side (oblique) Plank

  1. Lie on your side, bring legs together until heels touch.
  2. Balance body weight on feet and elbow.
  3. Lift your trunk, forming a straight line.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower trunk.
  6. Repeat.



Tighten your Abs (Abdominal muscles)

Abdominal muscles (Abs) provide support to maintain posture and participate in breathing process especially during exhale (when they help force air out of the lungs by depressing the thorax).

When exercised they can be defined by the 6-pack ab effect (Rectus Abdominis).  The deeper muscles (close to the spine) have the most effect on posture and help to maintain a healthy back (Transverse Abdominis).

The Oblique muscles that run along the sides of the torso/trunk (external & internal) work to rotate the trunk/torso and (bend) flex the spine, along with maintaining posture.

You do not need to go to the gym or need much equipment to exercise the Abs.  Described below are a few routines that, when consistently practiced, will work and build these muscles.


TrunkAbCurlFAbdominal Curl on Fit Ball (eccentric exercise)

  1. Sit on the fit ball.
  2. With stomach muscles tightened slowly lower your trunk parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 3 – 5 seconds.
  4. Do decrease intensity place hands by hips.


TrunkTwistF  Trunk Twist

  1. Tighten the Abs.
  2. Twisting at the waist, rotate upper body from side to side.  Be sure to keep the back straight.
  3. Do this 10 – 12 times.


SideBendCrunchSide Bend Crunch with Dumbbell

  1. Grasping a dumbbell (or bag of rice from the kitchen), tighten abs.
  2. Bend to the side as shown.
  3. Do this 8 – 10 times.
  4. Repeat on other side.


ReverseCrunchF  Reverse Crunch

  1. On your back, bring knees  to a 90 degree angle.
  2. Tighten abs.
  3. Bring hips up (curl hips) so that lower back lifts up off the floor.
  4. Do this 6 – 8 times.


CrunchBentLegF  Bent Leg Crunch Twist

  1. On your back, bend legs and tighten abs.
  2. Raise upper body and one (1) bent leg.
  3. Twist touching the opposite elbow to the knee of the raised leg.
  4. Alternate sides
  5. Do this 8 – 10 times for each leg.


FitBallTrunk ExtensionFDouble Leg Bridge with Fit Ball (eccentric exercise)

  1. On your back, place your feet on Fit Ball.
  2. Lift hips off floor; squeeze buttocks (glutes).
  3. Slowly lower hips for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Do 8-10 reps; 3 sets.
  5. For an easier version of this exercise use a BOSU ball (instead of Fit Ball).


ObliqueAbPlankFOblique Side Plank – Lowering (eccentric exercise)

  1. Lie on your side with your feet and elbow touching the floor.
  2. Lift you torso / trunk so that only your elbow and foot are touching the floor.
  3. Slowly lower your trunk for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Do 6-8 reps.
  5. Repeat on other side.


JackKnifeCrunchF  Jack Knife Crunch/Sit-Up

  1. Tighten Abs while laying on the floor.
  2. Using the strength from your abs, simultaneously raise upper body and legs forming a “V”.
  3. Reach to touch ankles or feet.
  4. Repeat 6-8 times.
  5. Rest, then do another set.


PlankFProne Plank (eccentric exercise)

  1. In the prone position Tighten / Pull in abs to stabilize your trunk.
  2. Raise up on toes and elbow.
  3. Slowly lower downward without arching back.
  4. Do 8-10 of these.
  5. Rest; do another set.


1-LegStandSingle Leg Stand (Trunk Flexion)

  1. Stand on one leg.
  2. Bend forward from the hips.
  3. Touch the floor (if possible).
  4. Hold 5-7 seconds.
  5. Return to upright, keeping back straight and leg bent.
  6. Hold 5-7 seconds.
  7. Repeat on other leg.