(Crunch-Free) Exercise Plan to Restore Your Core


Core workouts aren’t just for creating a slimmer waistline. They’re also beneficial for our overall spine health. Maximizing core strength helps to build up the muscles that surround our spine and decrease our chances of suffering from a back injury.

What Is My Core?

To get things started, we need to have a better understanding of what our core is made of and what it can do for our body. Our core is made up of a series of muscles including our abdominal and back muscles. Having a strong core makes daily physical activity easier and helps to prevent and alleviate back pain.

Incorporating a great core workout is extremely important in a balanced workout routine. The goal of core strengthening is to help your body work in harmony without causing pain or future injury.

Benefits of Core Strength:

  • Improves balance and stability

  • Reduces pain in different areas of the back 

  • Eases daily physical activity like vacuuming, raking, mowing and shoveling 

  • Improves posture

The next question you might be asking yourself is, “Do I need a gym membership?” The beauty of core exercises is that you have the ability to do everything in the comfort of your own home. No weights required!

Exercises for Back Pain

Don’t believe us? Follow this Core Circuit Training Guide to see how simple it can be to increase your strength! If you’re already exercising regularly, start by doing this routine two to three times a week. If you are just starting to get more physically active, start by going through it once each week and build yourself up until you’ve found enough strength to go through three times per week.

If you’re concerned about trying any of the workouts below, don't hesitate to reach out to the medical professionals at UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital. Your physical well-being is at the forefront of our mission and we want to guide you to have the best quality of life possible.

Core Circuit Warm-Up

Before we jump into our core circuit training, warm up with five minutes of moderate cardio. This could be brisk walking, running or jumping jacks —  anything that will loosen up your muscles and get your blood flowing.

Incorporate our core circuit training into your workout regimen two to three times a week. Perform circuits 1-3 plus the extras three times through. Finish with stretches to maintain flexibility of the joints and core muscles. While performing each activity, be sure to engage your core to maximize your workout. Think about pulling your belly button to your spine for optimal engagement.

**Consult your physician before performing any of the following activities.**

Perform each circuit three times, then cool down with the stretches.

Circuit 1

Bird Dog (15 reps per side)

Core Training Bird Dog


  • Get on your hands and knees, making sure your palms are flat on the ground and and your hands are shoulder width apart.

  • Squeeze your abs in, and raise your right arm and left leg until they form a line with your body. 

  • Return to your starting position. Repeat by lifting your left arm and right leg. Keep your back and hips from moving too much. 

Continue to alternate each side.

Plank (Hold for 30 seconds)

Plank exercises for cores strength. Plank exercises for core strength.

  • Start in push-up position. 

  • Lower your arms so both elbows and fists are on the ground. Elbows should be directly underneath the shoulders.

  • Keeping your spine and neck neutral, flex your ab muscles and hold the plank position for 30 seconds. Don’t let your hips fall to the ground!

Superman (15 reps, holding for 2 seconds each time) 

Superman exercise for core strength. Core strengtheing with superman exercise.

  • Lie on your stomach and extend your arms above your head. (Place a towel placed under your hips to support your back if needed.)

  • Squeeze your abdominal muscles. 

  • Lift your arms and legs off of the ground and hold for 2 seconds. Lower your arms and legs, then repeat.

Circuit 2

Good Morning (15 reps)

Good morning exercise. Step 1Good morning workout.

  • Begin with your feet hip-width apart, then place your hands on the back of your head keeping your elbows wide.

  • Pulling your abs in tightly to your spine, bend forward at the hip until you are parallel to the ground. Keep your spine properly aligned.

  • Return to starting position, squeezing your glutes as you move upright.

Side Lunge (15 reps per side)

Side lunge step 1side lunge step two

  • Begin by standing with slightly wider than hip width apart, with your abs and glutes pulled tight. 

  • Keeping your toes pointed towards the front, reach toward your ankle, putting your weight onto the leg and flex the knee and hip into a side lunge. 

  • Step back into standing position and repeat on the other side. 

Squat (15 reps)

squat exercise for core strengthSquats for core stength

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart and arms at your side.

  • Begin to lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Your body weight should be pushed into your heels.

  • Raise your arms outward as your lower into your squat.

  • Hold the squat for 2 seconds then return to starting position.

Circuit 3

Dead Bug (15 reps)

Dead bug exercise step one. Dead bug exercise for your core.

  • Lie on your back with your knees at a 90 degree angle, squeezing your stomach and flattening your back toward the floor.

  • Straighten your right leg and and left after until they hover just above the ground. Hold for 3 seconds.

  • Return right leg and left arm to starting position and repeat with the left leg and right arm.

Segmental Rotation (15 reps per side)

segment rotation stretch step one. segment rotation stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Tighten your ab muscles.

  • Let your knees fall slowly to your side, keeping your shoulders on the floor. Go as far as you can comfortably. Hold for three seconds.

  • Bring your knees back to the starting position. Do the exercise to the right side.

Heel Touch (15 reps per side)


Heel touch step two.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet planted on the floor. Arms should be at your side.

  • Raise your shoulders slightly off the ground and, using your abdominal muscles, rotate your left hand to your left foot.

  • Repeat on the right side.


Stretch (stretching helps maintain flexibility of the muscles and joints)

Rag Doll

Rag doll stretch step one. Rag doll stretch step two.

  • Begin in standing position, legs shoulder width apart.

  • Bend over like you are reaching to touch your toes. Cross your arms by grabbing opposite elbows.

  • Keep your head heavy.

 Hip Flexor

hip flexor step two. hip flexor step two.

  • Begin by kneeling with one knee to the floor and the other at a 90 degree angle.

  • Tilt your hips forward until you feel tension on the front of the right hip, keeping the back upright.

  • Hold for at least 15 seconds.

  • Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.


cat/camel step one.

cat pose stretch.null

  • Begin with your hands and knees on the ground.

  • Slowly arch your back until it is rounded. Hold for three seconds.

  • Return your back to starting position then stretch your back downward, pushing your stomach toward the floor.

  • Bring your back to starting position, and repeat the stretch at least three times.

Standing Lat Stretch



  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees bent slightly.

  • Place left hand behind your head and let your right arm hang.

  • Lean your torso to the right.

  • Repeat on the opposite side.

If you are suffering from serious spine pain or an injury to the spine, the experts at UnityPoint Health - Finley Spine Care in Dubuque, Iowa, can help. From back pain to minimally invasive spine surgery, our staff provides a full spectrum of spine treatment.

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