Fun core exercises?
June 30, 2012 7:13 AM   Subscribe

What are some activities that are also good core muscle exercises?

I recently got into the habit of exercising for 20 minutes a day. I used to procrastinate on going to the gym because I didn't want to dedicate the time. But everyone has 20 minutes in their day. I'm now rotating exercises, where I do something for the lower body on Day 1, something for the upper body on Day 2, and something for the core on Day 3. I then repeat.

So far, it's mostly been running, push-ups/pull-ups/lifting, and variations of crunches. For the weekends, I've decided to expand this a bit, going cycling or playing soccer instead of running, or swimming instead of lifting.

I know that most athletic exercises include some core engagement, but is there a fun activity that really gives a good core workout? The only core exercises I can find are the same boring crunch/plank variations that no one would actually do for fun.
posted by ChipT to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yoga and Pilates are excellent core workouts. You can get DVDs or watch online videos about how to do both.
posted by xingcat at 7:36 AM on June 30, 2012

Best answer: Rowing (sort out proper form and then set challenges for different paces/do it to music), bellydancing, bike tricks (wheelies, no hands, trackstands...), unicycling, acro (try or Google for acrobatic tricks you like), handbalancing, certain yoga poses (flow/vinyasa yoga can increase the fun factor, also power yoga), hill climbing (bike or by foot), slacklining, tightrope walking, climbing and bouldering, hollow body hold and superman, planking on things. :) Mix it up!
posted by lokta at 7:52 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Punching and kicking a heavy bag, big time. Hooks and Thai round kicks have you torquing your body back and forth==Ab Abber 3000.
posted by TheRedArmy at 8:06 AM on June 30, 2012

The plank exercise + variations are pretty solid core exercises. Also if you can find a friend to compete with on pushup numbers, I've found that to be a good incentive for keeping with the whole bodyweight exercise thing because then you've gamified your routine a little bit.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:34 AM on June 30, 2012

Bicycle crunches are fun and supposedly really great for the core.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:45 AM on June 30, 2012

The "You Are Your Own Gym" workout program might be something good for you. It's a 4-day a week, 10 week program that you do about half an hour a day in your own home. It builds your core strength along with other muscle groups, and has hundreds of varieties of exercises to keep from getting bored (and to keep your muscles from getting used to what you're doing). [My friend has the book but found a pdf copy online by searching. There is also an app if you have a smartphone. Also if you search "YAYOG" on youtube you can get demonstrations of the exercises.]
posted by DoubleLune at 9:00 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Paddling either single or double blade using proper form is powered mostly by the twisting of the torso, hence good core workout.
posted by canoehead at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by gingerbeer at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Based on Phillipe Petite's physique I'd say tightrope walking is an excellent core exercise!

You might have to go to a very special gym for that though.
posted by vespabelle at 9:36 AM on June 30, 2012

Best answer: Dancing, specifically belly dancing.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:58 AM on June 30, 2012

Lots of good examples already. I'd like to add wood splitting - one of the few chores I actually like and rather demanding. Plus, hey, wood done got split.
posted by mce at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's a great resource on hooping, with the caveat that it's a friend's website.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2012

Zumba has built up my core strength, but that's not for everyone.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2012

Best answer: lots of people have already mentioned various circus arts, but i'll chime in to add aerials: static or flying trapeze, aerial fabric/silk, vertical rope, etc. classes may be hard to find or expensive, or neither, depending on where you live, but they are absolutely fun and require that you build strong abs to progress. acroyoga is probably a decent core-builder, and potentially more fun than pilates and yoga if you prefer more sense of play and social interaction.
posted by nevers at 2:19 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

also pole dancing seems to be growing fast as a hobby, and the acrobatic tricks and inversions require a strong core. (men can do it too but yes, most students are women.) if you live near a circus school you might be able to try chinese pole instead, for all of the acrobatics and none of the high heels.
posted by nevers at 2:24 PM on June 30, 2012

As I type this, I am nursing some somewhat achy core muscles from my Zumba class on Wednesday. It is SUPER fun, and very, very effective.
posted by dirtmonster at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2012

I'll chime in with ballet. There's a NYC Ballet Workout that's amazing. I was doing until I had surgery on my knee. It couples typical barre work with core stuff where you lay on the ground.
posted by kathrynm at 4:20 PM on June 30, 2012

Sex! And I second nevers' aerials suggestion.
posted by aka burlap at 10:20 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Roller skating, particularly if you squat into a proper derby stance.


Seconding pole dancing. There seems to be a real schism developing between the schools that emphasise the sexy aspects, and schools that consider it a real sport that requires serious athleticism. The latter usually accept both female and male students. First classes are usually free, so you can shop around to find a school you're comfortable in.

I consider planks fun. It might help to make them more dynamic. Try getting a timer that beeps every thirty seconds, and running through a sequence of standard-side-reverse-other side. Or incorporate side planks into your push ups- one push up, swing up into a side plank, alternating sides after every push up.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2012

Bouncing on a trampoline, or in a bounce house!
posted by exceptinsects at 12:25 AM on July 3, 2012

Zuzana Light's ZWOWs have a great selection of core exercises that vary movement enough to keep them interesting. I ended up tacking the "Ab splitters" from ZWOW #23 onto another recent workout just for fun.
posted by Kurichina at 9:38 AM on July 3, 2012

Response by poster: Can't believe I didn't think of some of my own. Surfing and Snowboarding!
posted by ChipT at 9:56 AM on July 4, 2012

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