Whether you are looking for better abs or a stronger core, resistance band core workouts are a great way to add variety to your current core workout routine or progress bodyweight core exercises to the next level.
Resistance band core exercises can develop the abdominals, obliques, and deeper core muscles responsible for pelvic stability, lumbar spine stabilization, and force generation during dynamic movements.
Integrating a wide variety of resistance band exercises into your current training and core workout routine can also help increase strength, sports performance, alleviate lower back pain, and increase injury resilience both in the gym and during your everyday life.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of core strength training, offer 17 different exercises to increase core strength using resistance bands, and provide you with a method to developing your own custom core stretching workouts using resistance bands.
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Why Should You Train The Core Muscles?
There are a plethora of reasons as to why a stronger core can boost performance, increase injury resilience, and help maximize your ab appeal. Below are four of the main benefits of training the core muscles with resistance bands, weights, and bodyweight.
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IMPROVED BALANCE AND STABILITY
A strong core helps stabilize the torso during all movements, both in the gym, on the field/court, and throughout daily life. Increasing core strength can help promote better balance and stability throughout the trunk muscles and help combat opposing forces that may knock you off balance during dynamic movements.
Stronger core muscles help increase spinal stability, intra-abdominal pressure, and pelvic control. With those three things, you will be sure to find greater tension development and stability in movements like squats, deadlifts, and presses.
Lower back injuries are very common in strength training. Often, this is due to poor core strength, pelvic stability, and posture. By increasing core strength and awareness of what correct posture and technique is, you can help minimize injury risks both in training and during life.
While diet is the key to unveiling carved abs and obliques, developing the muscles using core exercises and resistance training is the ideal way to make the core pop. With proper nutrition and the below exercise, you will be on your way to that lean and athletic look you are going for.
17 Resistance Band Ab Exercises For A Strong Core
Below are 17 resistance band exercises to develop the core muscles, reinforce pelvic stability, and help maximize core strength for weightlifting movements, dynamic athletic movements, and everyday life.
The below exercises are categorized into three main subgroups (1) isometric and breathing exercises, (2) rotational core exercise, and (3) flexion and extension core exercises.
Each core strengthening group focuses on different aspects of overall core strength. In later sections we will also discuss how to combine various movements to create a well-rounded resistance band core strength workout.
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ISOMETRIC AND BREATHING EXERCISES
This group of resistance band core strengthening exercises helps to develop deep core strength via the transverse abdominals, diaphragm, and stabilizers of the pelvis. These can be done using timed sets, repetitions, and slow cadences. Additionally, these movements should emphasize proper spinal alignment and create tension in the diaphragm and can be a great way to teach proper breathing control for lifting.
1. Standing Pallof Hold + Reach
The standing Pallof hold + reach is a drill you can use to reinforce proper pelvic alignment and bracing of the core while in an upright position. The farther you are from the anchor point, the greater tension on the band. It is key to not allow the pelvis to rotation, or have the shoulder start to slouch forward. This is also a great drill to reinforce scapular control and stability while performing the reaching motion.
2. ½ Kneeling Pallof Hold + Reach
By taking the standing position down to the half kneeling position, you increase the need for pelvic control to resist the natural tendency to allow the hips to rotate. This is a great drill to also increase oblique activation, especially for individuals who have poor control of unilateral movements like lunges and split squats. Lastly, this will help educate lifters on the importance of bracing the core while simultaneously contracting the glutes for maximal spinal stability and strength.
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3. Full Kneeling Pallof Hold + Reach
Taking a full kneeling position increases the difficulty of this movement, and forces the glutes and obliques to engage at a higher degree since the leg muscles cannot assist in resisting rotational forces at the hip. This is a great way to challenge pelvic stability, build strength, and have carry over for more advanced individuals.
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4. Dead Bug with Lateral Pallof Hold + Reach
The dead bug is a staple core stretching exercise to reinforce deep breathing, core strength, and spinal alignment. By adding a Pallof hold + reach to this already challenging movement, you can increase the activation of the obliques and pelvic stabilizers, especially ones that are responsible for minimizing elevation of the lateral aspects of the pelvis. This could be a good option for individuals who find they shift to one side while performing squats or other compound, bilateral movement. It is imperative that the lower back stays flat on the floor at all times, regardless of where the legs or arms are.
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5. Plank Row with Band
The plank is a classic isometric exercise, yet with the addition of the band row, you can help build isometric strength during a more dynamic movement experience, which is often more applicable to real life. By adding the rowing motion, which is more like a vertical pull than a horizontal pull (see side plank row below), you can also help increase scapular strength and control.
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6. Side Plank Row with Band
The side plank is a plank variation that can help increase oblique strength and resist pelvis rotation. Adding in the band row will educate the individual on how to properly perform a row while anchoring the core muscles and stabilizing the pelvis to minimize rotation of the body as the band is pulled back.
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ROTATIONAL CORE EXERCISES
Rotational exercises are great for increasing pelvic control and stability, in addition to developing stronger internal and external obliques. These exercises are also great movements for athletes who rely on rotational force and movements during movements like running, sprinting, throwing, punching/kicking, and swinging. You can perform these movements with a fixed stance to isolate the obliques, or allow the body to pivot and the feet to rotate with the hips while maintaining an isometric core contraction during the movement.
1. Resistance Band Woodchoppers (Parallel)
Woodchoppers can be done from a variety of angles to develop a wide range of rotational strength abilities. Starting the chop from a parallel path allows for an individual to understand how to maintain balance and stability as the visualise the hands moving across a linear plane that is parallel to the floor.
2. Resistance Band Woodchoppers (High to Low)
Moving from a high to low position on the chop can be a great way to add variety to the chopping motion. By taking the starting point from a high position and coming downwards, you can mimic movements like slams, actual woodchopping, and train the system in a more diverse and dynamic pattern.
3. Resistance Band Woodchoppers (Low to High)
Low to high woodchoppers are a great way to mimic movements like golf swings, hitting a pop-up, or rounding out a chopping program that also includes parallel and high to low chops. These all can be done from a standing position, kneeling, and with or without rotation of the torso, hips, and feet.
4. Russian Twist with Resistance Band
The Russian twist is a classic oblique strengthening exercise that can be combined with a resistance band to increase the difficulty of the movement. By attaching a resistance band to an anchor point, you create greater tension on the obliques to rotate against. This can be done with the feet on the floor or up, and either for reps or a times hold (similar to a Pallof press in the seated position).
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These resistance band exercises consist of some of the more well known “core exercises” done in most gyms. Adding a resistance band to them is a great way to increase core strength, promote proper alignment during the movements, and take your bodyweight core workouts to the next level.
1. Banded Curl Up
The curl up is a crunching movement that has the lifter perform a partial sit up so that their lower back remains on the floor (does not go into lumbar flexion). This is different from a traditional sit-up as the lumbar spine does not go into flexion and extension, which does have some scientific backing to be detrimental to the lumbar discs. Therefore, by performing this partial sit up movement, you can increase abdominal strength while minimizing stress to the lumbar spine and discs.
2. Banded Side Bend
Side bends are a lateral flexion and extension exercise of the spine, and should be done in a slow and controlled manner to increase obliques activation but also minimize jarring stress to the spine. While lateral flexion of the spine is part of healthy spinal function, we want to increase core strength, specifically the obliques, to help resistant forces that may create that and subject our bodies to unwanted stress.
3. Banded Lying Knee Pull In
The lying knee pull in is a classic lower ab exercise. Adding a resistance band to the movement increases the resistance in the abs and hip flexors. When doing this moment, be sure to not allow the lower back to arch (push it into the floor) as your feet move out and pull the band in. The farther you are from the band, the greater the tension during the pull in. For best results, pause as the knees get pulled in, and slowly straighten the knees under band tension.
4. Kneeling Banded Crunch
The kneeling crunch with resistance band is a cable crunch look-alike movement. This is a great way to add strength and muscle to the abdominals without weights. Be sure to not allow the lumbar spine to go into full flexion and exterior, but rather work on isolating the middle and upper abs by opening up the chest the the sky at the top of every rep.
5. Banded Goodmorning
While the lower back (erectors) are not part of the “abdominals” they are a pivotal muscle group involved in core stabilization. The stronger the erectors, the more balance and symmetry you will have when the abdominals and obliques develop. That banded goodmorning is a great way to increase lower back isometric control during hinging moments, and can be used as a glute activation and deadlifting warm up exercise.
6. Banded Reverse Hyperextensions
Reverse hyperextensions are a lower back and glute exercise that can be used to increase strength of the posterior chain muscles. While these muscles are not visually part of the “abs”, they are in fact critical to maintaining core strength and spinal integrity. Additionally, reverse hypers can be used as a means to strengthen the lower back and glutes without the need for spinal compression forces, making this a great lower back and core strengthening exercises option for individuals with lower back pain and stiffness.
7. Banded Jefferson Curl
The banded Jefferson curl is a variation that uses bands instead of a kettlebell or barbell. This is an advanced exercise that targets the muscles that extend the spine. This movement is part of a sound core strengthening program because it helps strengthen the muscles used to combat overly active abdominals and hip flexor, and can be used to help restore proper spinal alignment and posture. It is important to perform this moment slowly to allow for proper isolation of the muscles as you move through the full range of motion.
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How To Make An Effective Core Workout With Resistance Bands
Using the above addresses, you can create your very own core strengthening workouts with resistance bands by using the steps below.
STEP 1 – CHOOSE AN ISOMETRIC / BREATHING EXERCISE
Choose one of the above exercises, and perform 2-3 sets of 60 seconds. During those 60 seconds, you can either perform static holds, or a series of presses. Be sure to split the 60 seconds up into two, 30-second intervals as you will need to train in one direction, turn and face the other direction to properly train both sides of the body.
STEP 2 – CHOOSE A ROTATION EXERCISE
Choose one of the above exercises, and perform 2-3 sets of either 12-15 reps per side, using fluid movements and controlled repetitions, or 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps per side, using tempo like cadences and focusing on moving very slow and controlled.
STEP 3 – CHOOSE A FLEXION / EXTENSION EXERCISE
Choose one of the above exercises, and perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps or 8-10 reps (heavy band tension) using controlled cadences. It is important that you go slow and controlled, and focus on isolating the target muscle group rather than performing excessive amounts of reps without feeling anything as you begin. A good repetition, with proper resistance selection, should be felt from the very first rep.
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In this comprehensive resistance band core exercises guide, we discussed 17 exercises that can be used interchangeably within a training program to develop a stronger core, inside and out.
For best results, be sure to focus on coordinated movements, muscle contraction, and proper spinal alignment during the movements.
You can add variety to your workouts by swapping movements in and out of the above “Build Your Own Core Workout” outline above, every few weeks.
About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.
Mike has published over 500+ articles on premiere online media outlets like BarBend, BreakingMuscle, Men’s Health, and FitBob, covering his expertise of strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, fitness, and sports nutrition. In Mike’s spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling the world, coaching, whiskey and craft beer, and spending time with his family and friends.