Core Exercises: Part 2

Global Stabilization System

Muscles attach from the pelvis to the spine.

Main responsibility:  Transfer weight between the upper body and lower body

Additional responsibilities:  Stability between the pelvis and spine, increasing stabilization of the core during functional movements

Muscles, include:

Quadratus Lumborum, Psoas Major, External Oblique, portions of Internal Oblique, Rectus Abdominis, Gluteus Medius, Adductor Complex

How do you engage these muscles?

Bracing, which involves consciously contracting your global muscles, is commonly known as “bearing down.”   Like the local stabilizers, the global stabilizers provide spinal stability.  However, the local muscles stabilize in between each vertebrae and the global muscles’ focus is to stabilize the entire trunk.

Both training methods, drawing-in maneuver (local stabilization system) and bracing (global stabilization system) can be easily implemented into a core strengthening program.

Image source: NASM
Image source: NASM

Exercises to Strengthen Core Stabilizers


Abdominal Draw In with Knee to Chest, “Marching”

  • Lie on your back on floor mat.  Draw one knee to the chest while maintaining the abdominal draw in and a 90 bend at knee.  Do not grab the knee with your hand.  Perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.

Prone Cobra’s

  • Lie on your stomach on floor mat with your arms at your side, palms facing up.  Lift your head and chest off of floor.  Hold your gluteal muscles tight and squeeze your shoulder blades together.  Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and slowly lower to starting position.  Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.


Supine Dead Bugs

  • Lie on your back on floor mat with arms perpendicular to floor and hips and knees bent at 90 degrees.  Maintain abdominal draw in throughout exercise.  Extend one arm above head while simultaneously lowering the opposite leg to the floor.  Contract abdominal muscles to raise arm and leg back to starting position.  Repeat on opposite side.  Move through only enough range of motion as your body will allow; avoid over-arching low back as legs lower to floor.  Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.

Abdominal Crunches on Stability Ball with Rotation

  • Place your upper and low back (thoracic and lumbar spine) on stability ball, with your hips just off of the ball.  Place your feet about shoulder-width apart and hands across chest or behind head.  Maintain abdominal draw in throughout movement pattern.  Crunch forward and lift your shoulder blades off of ball.  When you approach halfway up, rotate your body to one side.  Hold for 1 to 2 seconds at the top.  As you rotate back to center, lower to the starting position.  Repeat on other side (alternating).  Perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.


Bridging with Head on Stability Ball

  • Place your head, neck, and upper and lower back on stability ball, with your hips just off of the ball.  Extend hips until parallel to the floor by engaging your gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and core.  Lift one foot off of the floor and extend leg while keeping the hips level. Lower leg to floor and lift other foot (alternating).  Perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.




Clark, M. A., Lucett, S.C., & Sutton, B.G. (2012).  NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training4 ed.  p. 209-212. Baltimore, MD:  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Princeton University Health Services. ” Lumbar/Core Strength and Stability Exercises.”  doi:  Accessed March 3, 2014.


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