I've come to this realization that my core has let me down (or that I've never really payed attention to my core).

To be honest, I've never payed my core it's due -- 20 sit ups were a chore -- always were and I found doing sit ups boring so I neglected my core.

For example: even in my youth I was a decent biker, fencer but I always would run into back problems.

I've had two lower back surgeries.

Now in my 40s as I try to get back into shape it seems my core gives out long before say my legs or other part of the body. Actually I see that I can out-cycle people 1/2 my age but when I do that getting out of bed the next day can be a chore (back stiffens)

So I've thought of spending six to twelve months focusing especially on my core while doing other things I like like bicycling and yoga.

So Question(s): 1. Is how I'm thinking about this problem sound? 2. I was trying to find an exercise regimen that would be suitable for supplemental core conditioning and I've not found anything that I can say I can confidently say is what looking for -- so any pointers in that direction would be appreciated.


  • You already have some good answers so I'll just add these references. The questions are different but the exercises in the answers should be good for building your core strength: Optimal Abdominal Exercises and Posture. However given that you have had surgeries, check with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure the exercises are appropriate for you. Dec 7, 2013 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


I can tell you what my physical therapist advised as exercises after a lumbago. If this is really adequate to your needs, I can't know. However I seem to suffer from a weak core also. I can do 100 crunches, but completely fail at a plank. I was advised to do the following exercises - Ithink they are fairly safe even with previous injuries, because there is so little movement, but I'm not remotely a medical professional.

  • Holding the plank
  • lying on your back, legs point upwards, raise the legs towards the ceiling using no momentum and only the lower abdominals
  • lying on your back, legs bent, tighs pointing upward - press left hand against right knee with max. force, make sure to press you lower back flat against th floor, repeat several times for both sides
  • Bodyweight back extension
  • in a four-feeted position (on your hands an knees), alternately shift the weight to left-knee + right hand and alternate

In addition to strength training, I was advised to stretch the lower back and the front tighs.

If you want to trust a random stranger on the internet, look at those exercises (and others that will hopefully be suggested). A workout can be quite brief, maybe 10 minutes. Especially one and three are quite taxing, a good thing perfect if you bore easily.

Or you may weant to talk to a professional, given your previous injuries. Your call.


I too have had spinal surgery. Besides constant core work, I also perform yoga type stretches twice per day. I think it's important to add stretching into any fitness routine as you age since flexibility can limit your range of motion. For exercises, I think it's best that you decide what works for you.


Sit ups can be bad for you back!


Planks are great. Captians Chair is good too.

But the number one exercise for core strength IMHO is squats. Counter intuitive perhaps, but they work for me. I have a dodgy back (hasn't needed surgery yet) and squats help quite a bit. But don't overdo the weight.



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