Skip to content Skip to footer

Why Doing a Basic Ab Curl Won’t Give You a Strong Core

Building a strong core is essential for overall fitness and stability, but it’s not just about doing sit-ups or ab curls! 

To truly develop a strong core, you need to work your abs three dimensionally.

When someone tells you to “do an ab curl,” it’s easy to think that what they’re asking for is the key to a strong core. And with all the talk about “abs” in fitness, it’s understandable that you might believe this. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find that there’s much more to having a strong core than just doing ab curls. In fact, some core exercises can actually cause injury if done incorrectly or too much. 

Let’s explore what exercises are needed for you to build a strong and stable core. You will need to focus on these areas – transverse abdominis, obliques and rectus abdominis. Let’s dive in….

photo c/o

Transverse Abdominis

First, you need to focus on the deep inner core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis. These muscles provide support for the spine and help with posture. Exercises such as the plank and dead bug can help to target these deep muscles.

This type of movement helps improve posture by strengthening muscles that support the spine and provides a great workout for shaping up your abs through functional training. 


Next, you need to work on the oblique muscles, which are located on the sides of the abdomen. 

These muscles help with rotation and side bending and can be targeted with exercises such as side planks or side bridges.

Activating your obliques works more than just your abs: they help develop strength and stability in all angles of rotation, so they’re great for preparing you for rotational sports like tennis, golf or baseball.

Rectus Abdominis

Finally, you need to work on the rectus abdominis, the muscles responsible for the “six-pack” look. Pilates exercises such as the rollup, the hundred and single leg stretch are great exercises for targeting these muscles.

Ab curls are still an option to build the rectus abdominis but alone they won’t give you the results you want. The reason why we don’t want to focus on ab curls is because they do not provide enough core stabilization; they only work one muscle group at a time (the rectus abdominis), which means that other muscles are neglected during this motion—and those other muscles are crucial in providing balance and stability when playing sports or doing everyday activities such as walking up stairs or bending over to pick something up off the floor!

It is important to keep in mind that developing a strong core is not just about achieving a six-pack look but also about having a strong lower back and trunk to prevent injury and improve overall fitness. Therefore, it’s important to work on ALL of the core muscles and also do exercises that engage the core indirectly like balance work, squats, and lunges.

To build a strong core, you need to work on all three dimensions of the core muscles: the deep inner core, obliques, and rectus abdominis. A combination of exercises that target these muscles directly and indirectly will help you achieve a strong, stable core.

Looking for a step-by-step guide to the most effective exercises to build a strong core, download my Core Essentials Cheat Sheet

Christine Kirkland is a Certified Pilates Instructor offering online Pilates classes. She specializes in helping adults to increase their balance, strength, mobility and feel their best every day.