core strength: how to work the core while you're at work

Many of us are hearing and reading about the importance of a strong core. Here are some common questions and some ways that working adults can mix core exercises into a busy day in the office.

Why is core strength so important?

A major function of your core is your posture. Your posture affects your breathing and balance, not to mention your body appearance. Having good posture can make the body appear as much as 5 to 10 pounds thinner. A strong core can also help prevent back pain and prevent injury.

Does ‘core’ mean my abs?

A common mistake many people make is thinking that the core means the abs on the front of your stomach. Your core actually refers generally to the body minus legs and arms. The muscles include the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.

When finding time to work out is a challenge, are there ways to work in some core exercises outside of the gym?

There are many simple exercises you can do even if you’re at work! Here are a few that we like ranging from basic to moderate in terms of effort.

In-chair foot lifts:

1. Sit in a chair with shoulders relaxed, back supported by the chair, feet evenly placed on the floor. Try to imagine your head is sitting naturally on top of your shoulders, not pushing forward or backward.
2. On an exhale, lift one foot float off the floor. Focus on keeping your tummy/belly button still.
3. Place the foot down, making sure you maintain even pressure on both feet.
4. Changing legs, on another exhale lift the opposite foot/knee.
5. Do 10 lifts with each leg, alternating each time.

foot lifts

Abdominal Circles:

1. Sit in a chair with good posture, aligning your tail bone with the top of your head. Feet should be hip-width apart on the ground in front of you.
2. Tighten and hold your lower abdominal muscles for three seconds.
3. Focus on your right side muscles, tighten and hold for three seconds.
4. Focus on your left side muscles, tighten and hold for three seconds.
5. Repeat (lower, right, left) for a minute.

Chair Crunches

1. Sit up straight with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Place your hands lightly on either side of your head and curl your body downward.
3. Squeeze your abs forcefully while exhaling, rise back up, inhaling, and repeat. For a variation, alternate the elbow to the opposite knee.

Elbows to Knees

1. Sit up straight and place your hands lightly on either side of your head.
2. Twist your body as you lift your left leg and bring your right elbow toward your left knee.
3. Hold for a second, lower your leg and center your body back to an upright position.
4. Repeat the same movement going to the opposite side, lift your right leg and bring your left elbow to your right knee.
5. Try 10 to 12 repetitions in a slow, steady, continuous motion.

elbow to knee lifts


1. Using either a sturdy chair or work desk: place your hands on the edge (facing chair or desk) and walk your feet backwards until your body forms an angle.
2. Your feet should be hip-width apart, hold your hips in the air to form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Hold for 20 to 45 seconds.


If you would like more ideas to strengthen your core, just ask any acac Fitness Specialist!

To learn more about our personal trainers, visit the training pages of your club:

Charlottesville  |  Midlothian  |  Shortpump  |  West Chester  |  Eagleview 



Wikipedia, Huffington Post, wiki How, POPSUGAR, LIVESTRONG