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3 Easy Core Activation Exercises

3 Easy Core Activation Exercises

By: Dr. Daniel Klerer D.C.

Importance of learning to ACTIVATE!


Continuting our Core Series, we have discussed in detail why having a strong core is important for stabilizing a healthy or unhealthy spine. What is not talked about enough, in my opinion, is the importance of learning to activate your core, before any strengthening can occur.


Our brain’s connection to our muscles is so extremely important in any exercise. Most people don’t need to learn to activate their bicep or pectorals when doing curls or chest presses as these are, for the most part, innate movements (push and pull) we learn over time. Activating core musculature is something that needs to be taught and perfected. This is known as “mind-body connection”.


When working to strengthen core musculature, we know how important it is to stabilize the trunk in order to achieve the goal of spinal stability. If one small movement is off because the wrong muscles are turning on, or cheating is occurring, this can throw off the entire idea of spinal stability!


So, now the question is, how can we learn how to activate!?


Here are three amazing exercises that should be worked on and mastered before beginning any core strengthening program. As always, it is best to work with a trained professional (chiro, physio, personal trainer etc.) in order to make sure that you are perfecting the right concepts of core activation. Even more important, once mastered, start to apply these concepts in every day life, not just during exercise! Every time you step out of the car, or in the car, contract the abs and glutes. While washing the dishes or spending time over the stove, contract those muscles. Make it a part of every day habits and when you become stronger it will reinforce those great habits!



  1. Core Activation (Abdominal Bracing)
  • Bracing is the simultaneous contraction of all the abdominal and lumbar spine musculature to increase spinal stiffness and stability.
  • Lie on your back with your knees up and feet flat on the ground
  • Place the tips of your fingers on either side of your abdomen
  • Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles (it should feel like you are about to get punched in your gut or like you are blowing out candles) and the buttock muscles
  • You should feel the abdominal muscle contract under your fingers
  • Another way to feel the brace is to try coughing or blowing out as if you were going to blow out a candle
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds. Relax. Repeat 20 times.

  1. Gluteal Squeezes
  • Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you
  • Squeeze your butt muscles together (as if there was a pencil between your cheeks)
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds. Relax. Repeat 20 times.

  1. Pelvic Tilt
  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor and arms at your side
  • Begin by contracting your abdominal muscles, then squeeze your gluteal muscles together as you raise your hips an inch off the ground. (You can start with a simple pelvic tilt first)
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds. Slowly lower. Repeat 20 times.

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