What Are the 3 Main Core Muscles?

Medically Reviewed on 9/15/2021
what are the 3 main core muscles
Your core is made up of several muscles that work together to provide stability, balance, and posture. Learn about how to strengthen your core

Your core is made up of several muscles that work together to provide stability, balance, and posture. The main core muscles include:

  • Transverse abdominis: Located deep in the abdomen, stabilizes your pelvis, and maintains internal abdominal pressure, which helps hold organs in place.
  • Rectus abdominis: Runs from the ribs to pubic bone, also known as the “six pack” muscles.
  • Obliques: Lets you rotate your trunk. For example, if you twist your abdomen to the right, your left external oblique muscles contract, and if you twist your abdomen to the left, your right internal oblique muscles contract.

Other core muscles include the following:

  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Multifidus
  • Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), especially the longissimus thoracis
  • Diaphragm
  • Lumbar muscles
  • Quadratus lumborum (deep portion)
  • Deep rotators
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Trapezius

How can you strengthen your core muscles?

Core strengthening is an important part of any fitness program. Any exercise that involves using your back and abdominal muscles in a coordinated fashion strengthens your core. Here are 3 examples.


  • Start on your back and bend your knees.
  • Your back should be in a straight but neutral position, neither arched nor pressed on the floor.
  • Make sure your shoulders, upper body, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
  • Slowly, raise your hips off the floor, keeping your abdominal muscles engaged, until they are aligned with your shoulders and knees.
  • Without losing your form, hold this position as long as you can.
  • Slowly, bring your hips back to the floor.


  • Start on your back with your knees bent.
  • Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Cross your arms around your shoulder.
  • Tighten your core muscles, tuck in your chin, and slowly lift your upper back without lifting your lower back or feet from the floor. 
  • Hold this position for 1-2 seconds.
  • Go back to the starting position by lowering your back.
  • Perform 8-2 reps as 1 set.


  • Start on all fours, placing your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips.
  • Straighten your knees and place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Tighten your core and hold this position for 10-30 seconds, gradually progressing to one minute.


Pictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form) See Slideshow

What are the benefits of core exercises?

Improve balance and stability

A strong core helps you maintain balance and stability when performing routine activities such as bending down to tie your shoes, reaching for something over your head, etc.

Tone ab muscles

Aerobic activities reduce abdominal fat around your abs, and core exercises tone the muscles that shape your abdomen.

Relieve back pain

Strengthening core muscles can help correct poor posture and relieve back pain.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 9/15/2021
Core Anatomy: Muscles of the Core. https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/ace-answers/exam-preparation-blog/3562/core-anatomy-muscles-of-the-core/

Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751