Almost everyone is familiar with exercises designed to strengthen one’s core, but there’s a problem. Knowing about them, and even knowing how important they are, don’t automatically mean we spend much time doing them.

Sadly, beyond a few token sit ups and pushups, most people don’t spend much time focused on exercises that are designed to strengthen the muscles in their trunk and pelvis.

If you fall into that category, then no matter how much time you spend at the gym, your core muscles are going to be weaker and less developed than the rest. If you want to maximize your overall level of health, that’s something you should consider changing, starting today!

Fortunately, core exercises don’t require any fancy, specialized equipment. You can do them at the gym, or, even better, from the comfort of your home.

From a practical standpoint, the two biggest benefits you’ll see from a stronger core are improved balance and stability. This will translate into performance gains if you participate in any kind of sports-related activity, and make you much less likely to suffer back strains or sprains.

In terms of exercises you can do to strengthen core muscles, you’ve got a lot of options. Basically any exercise that engages your abdominal muscles in a systematic way would work, but the best and simplest to perform are these:

• Pushups
• Sit ups (especially if you cross your arms over your chest and keep your feet firmly planted on the floor so that you are relying exclusively on your abs to lift your torso)
• Bridges

If you’re not familiar with a bridge, simply start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and your back in a neutral position. Without tilting your hips, tighten your abs and raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold this position for as long as you’re able, then release and return to your starting position. Repeat as many times as you’re able.

Making these simple exercises a part of your daily routine will do wonders for your overall level of health, and your back will thank you for it!