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7 Most Effective Deep Core Exercises (100% Bodyweight) You Can Do At Home

deep core exercises

I’m excited to share with you 7, amazing, deep core exercises that’ll strengthen your core muscles, and stabilize your spine and hips.

If you live with chronic lower back pain (or get frequent back attacks), I’m sure these exercises will help tremendously.

Before I jump to the video demonstrating each deep core exercise, I want to take a minute to briefly explain the core is (it’s much more than just your abs)…and why doing crunches or a ton of planks rarely strengthens your deep core.

The Deep Core Inner and Outer Units

The core consists of an inner, and an outer unit. These units are always working together to enable us to accomplish from simple daily tasks to more advanced athletic performance.

The Core Inner Unit

The inner core (or what’s known as the deep core) is the spine “Safety belt”. It stabilizes your spine, pelvis, and hip joints.
The inner core muscles that are responsible to provide spine stability are:

  • Transverse abdominis: a deep abdominal muscle that acts as a belt around your waist to protect your spine.   Picking an item off the floor without properly activating this muscle will overload the lower back and pelvis which can lead to injury.
  • Multifidus: Another important muscle stabilizer connected to the pelvis.

Our goal is to strengthen these deep core muscles so they fire up automatically whenever we lift, twist or bend over.

The Core Outer Unit

The outer core consists of primer movers: the visible abs, the obliques, the rectus abdominis, the shoulder girdle, and the rest of your body.  

As you can see, the core is not just the visible abs we see, but an integration of many systems.


We often over-train the visible primer muscles to achieve that “aesthetic look” and ignore the deep abdominal muscles that are responsible for maintaining a healthy functional body… One that is composed of “intelligent” aesthetic muscles, and a strong foundation.

PS: When you’re done reading this post. You need to check out the Deep Core Training. It’ll show you how to activate all your 12 deep core muscles within a week. I’ll link to it again at the end of the post. 

Core training program

While deep core exercises may look easy, they’re actually even more challenging than regular abs exercises. It’s just a different kind of burn…

You may not feel the “burn” that you get when you do 50 crunches, but you will notice how challenging it is for your body to do them properly.

One of the warning signs of a weak core actually is feeling tension in your hip flexors when you perform certain abs exercises like the bicycle or the lying leg lifts. And…

Because, we are not used to using the deeper core muscles, the back and hip flexors have a tendency to compensate for a week inner core.

This is why I advise you to always keep your back GLUED to the floor when you are doing any inner core exercises on your back.

Oh! Before I continue. You also need to read my step-by-step guide on how to strengthen a weak core. I’ve included a full section on warning signs of a deep core. The link will open in a new tap so you can still continue reading this post.

What If You Have Back Pain

The reason why many core workout routines you find online don’t work (and I don’t recommend them) is because they’re too focused on spinal flexion (sit-ups, crunches) or too much twisting. Crunches contribute to a flexed posture (rounded shoulder-forward head posture) and should be avoided at all cost.

Flexion And Extension Exercises To Avoid

Most importantly, if you’re suffering from a disc-related injury, you want to avoid core or abs exercises that include exaggerated flexion or extension. Here’s an example… if you have an anterior disc herniation (facing the front side of the intervertebral disc. Towards the body), you’ll notice pain when you do hyperextension exercises.  

Likewise, if you have a posterior disc herniation (towards the back of the body), you’d experience pain when bending over, and doing the typical abs flexion exercises

To keep things balanced, I like to simply avoid all exercises that promote flexion or exaggerated extension: CRUNCHES (this is why I’m introducing you to some pretty cool no crunch core exercises today).

I also keep the hyperextension exercises to a minimum, but I still perform few lower impact movements such as swimmers, supermans and cobra pose.

Since we spend a big part of our days hunched over, exercises like the cobra can help restore the posture.

Alright, let’s jump right to the 7 deep core exercises I want to share with you today. And below the video, I’m going to break down the exercises so you can easily copy them in a document for future reference.

7 Deep Core Exercises You Can Do At Home

Important Tips To Keep In Mind

  • Keep your back glued to your mat when you are on your back. If you arch your back, that means you’re starting to compensate and shifting the tension to your lower back instead of your core.  You should take a break, breathe and try to do it again with proper form.
  • You can start with 10-15 repetitions for each core exercise, and as you gain more strength, bump those reps up to 15, or do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • Take from 30-60 seconds break between each exercise. Our goal is to strengthen our inner goal, not to build abs. (for now!)

7 Deep Core Exercises Breakdown

  • Single-leg extensions.
  • Dynamic toe-taps.
  • Plank knee to elbow (advanced).
  • Double leg lower and lift (very important to have your back touching the floor all the time. Take as much rest as you want, but make sure you are performing each repetition properly).
  • Bird dog: Make sure you are not rotating your hips.
  • Plank shoulder taps (Focus on maintaining a solid plank position without dropping your hips or lifting your glutes up).
  • Plank knee taps

Only very few people understand how to tap into the power of their deep core (your core is designed to be one of the strongest muscles in your body) and it can protect your spine from pain and injury…

And allow you to move, exercise, and live a pain-free life. You can start building a powerful core inside the deep core training.

Core training program
Everything You Need To Build A Strong Core

If you have a question, post it in the comment section. I’m here to help!

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  • Heather says:

    Great video! I’m still dealing with pain in my piriformis muscle and thinking my core def needs to be worked on…I walk 3 to 5 times a week doing around 3-5 miles and feel good about that…what do you think about exercise balls? Do you use them?

    • Coach Sofia says:

      Hi Heather!
      Yess, I’ve been doing these exercises almost everyday (especially the first 3 ones) and I always feel so much better in my pelvic area. I love how low impact they are and how much they target the inner core and stabilize my hips. When we do these with proper form (back glued to floor), we truly feel the core working. I do use the exercise balls for variety of things (back hyper extensions, Abs exercises, and hamstring/glute work such as hamstring curls, glute bridges on the ball and reverse planks with my feet elevated on ball). The reason why I haven’t introduced them yet is because it can be super easy to do them with bad form (especially if one hasn’t worked on his core strength yet) since the exercise balls can be quite challenging. I wanted to first put together core strengthening workouts that will help gain that prerequisite core strength and balance needed to move to the stability balls (especially for people dealing with back pain). Thanks for mentioning them 🙂 I will be putting together a beginner version of a stability core workout very soon! <3

  • Tam Ring says:

    Wow just done your workout and I feel so good already. I can’t wait to start doing this on a daily basis. I have suffered with bulging disc pain, degenerated disc disease and arthritis for 20+ years. Being very weak in the core definitely contributes to the pain I have in my back, hips and legs. Thank you so much for you easy to follow video, I just love it!!
    Love Tam

    • Coach Sofia says:

      Hi Tam!
      Thanks a lot for your feedback! I’m soo glad to hear that 🙂 I will be posting more like these because they are super effective in stabilizing your hips and spine. Movement of the hip area is vital to help with arthritis inflammation.
      Stay Strong!

  • Lori Langley says:

    I am morbidly obese and I have chronic lower back pain. I would have a hard time getting up from the floor. Are these excercises modifiable to accommodate my condition.

    • Coach Sofia says:

      Hi Lori,
      I understand your concern. I don’t think these exercises (except the bird dog) would be OK because I wouldn’t want you compensating or doing them with bad form. If you’re not active and haven’t exercised in a while, I’d highly suggest you simply learn diaphragmatic breathing, core bracing, and activating your deep pelvic muscles (which you can do even standing) to support and stabilize your lower back. The exercises are the next step.
      I have a tutorial on core bracing and activating the deep core muscles in the deep core training: https://coachsofiafitness.com/deep-core-training-2/ Once you activate and strengthen those muscles, exercises will start to feel easier and you can do them on your bed even. It’s not about the surface (which you should just make sure your back is supported so don’t lie on anything too soft).

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