“Many people believe that their core is simply their abdominal ‘six-pack’ muscles, and to strengthen them, all they need are crunches,” says Teri Jory, Los Angeles–based personal trainer, professional ice skater, fourth-degree black belt and creator of the POISE method and the creator of the following dumbbell core workout. 

The reality of good core work goes much deeper, however. “We have deep inner core muscles that serve as pillars for stabilizing our pelvis and lower back, giving the rest of our body a firm foundation to handle the movements we make throughout the day,” Jory explains. 

Effectively training the myriad muscles that crisscross our abdominal and lower-back region requires attention both inside and outside the gym. Take some time during each day — no matter where you may be, whether it’s school, work, running errands or hanging out at home — and try the following two-step core exercise: