I'm still largely a beginner and started with the Workout Generator and added a few extras that felt right. My Core Grouping includes:
Back Extension Crunches Crunches with Twist Modified Side Plank Pendulum Reverse Crunch Superman Swimming
Searching them above provides video how-to's. I do 2 sets of each; started with 5 reps on each of the repeatables per set, and just hold the isometrics as long as able, and that kicked my tush! Slowly adding reps to the repeatables until I can do 2 sets of 15 reps per. I'm there on some after a few months, but definitely not on the three crunch variations on the same day (owie!) Someday, I'll get there! Back Extensions, Superman, and Swimming have helped a lot to strengthen my lower back; I used to get backaches and muscle spasms that would leave me hunched and walking like a 90+ year old for a few days even with muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories until the muscles eased. No more pills for me! I haven't had a real muscle spasm/backache in a couple months now, and only got a twinge (a bit of tightness that felt like a pinched nerve when I moved just 'right' for a few days but otherwise unnoticeable unless I moved at just the right angle) earlier this week when I pushed last weekend's Sunday workout too hard.
I would recommend using the Workout Generator in the Fitness section of the Articles & Videos tab: www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_plan_ generator.asp . You can enter the beginner option, that you want core exercises and which equipment you have available and it will give you a workout that fits that criteria.
I have decided to start doing exercises to strengthen my core muscles to see if it will help with my back problems. Does anyone have a good starting place for a noob like me? I have NEVER been able to do crunches, so needless to say, my core muscles are horrible lol