Get stronger and improve your core with bodyweight exercises. Learn how to do them the right way with our easy-to-follow guides. Get fit and stay healthy the friendly way.
The core is an essential part of your body, but it can be difficult to tell if it’s strong or weak. Your core strength helps you with everyday tasks, such as lifting heavy objects or bending over to tie your shoes. When you’re working out, your core should also be engaged; otherwise, you won’t get the full benefit from exercises like squats and lunges. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to improve your overall strength while also targeting specific muscle groups in your body. Here are some bodyweight moves that will help build up your core:
Toe touching is a great core exercise to strengthen your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. To do it:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms relaxed by your side. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your legs (keep your knees slightly bent).
- Slowly lift one foot off the ground, keeping it straight as you reach for it with both hands as far down as possible without lifting up from a bent-over position. If this is too difficult for you, start off slowly by bending at both knee joints before moving onto one leg at a time.
- Hold for 3 seconds then slowly return to starting position until no longer stretched out – repeat 10 times per side for 3 sets total
Flutter kicks are a great way to work your core muscles. They involve moving both legs up and down in a swimming motion, almost like the tail of a fish is flapping behind you. To perform this exercise:
- Lie on your back with knees bent and hands by your sides (or above your head for an added challenge).
- Tighten abs as if someone were trying to punch them. Keep this tightness throughout the entire exercise.
- Lift both feet off of the floor approximately 6 inches off of the ground while keeping them straight and together. Lower slowly until they’re just above floor level before repeating another rep (about 10-15 times). Rest one minute before doing another set with knees bent at 90 degrees or less.
The reverse crunch is a great exercise for improving your core strength and supporting your back. It’s performed by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your head, shoulders, and legs off the floor so that only your lower back remains in contact with it. Hold this position for one second to finish one rep. Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat the move as many times as you want (3-5).
The side plank is a great exercise to improve core strength, especially for beginners. It targets the obliques, or sides of your abs, as well as your hip flexors and lower back.
To do it: Lay on one side with your legs together and extended straight out from you
(a). Push off the floor with your forearm or elbow so that you’re balancing on that arm, keeping it in line with your shoulder
(b). Then lift up onto your toes before slowly lowering back down
(c). Repeat 10 times per side with one minute’s rest between sets.
Plank with leg lifts
To do this exercise, start by lying on your stomach with your hands placed shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. To keep your spine straight, keep your back straight and use your core muscles. Next, lift one leg off the ground while keeping it straight at all times; make sure to engage your glutes as you do so. Hold this position for 30 seconds before repeating it with the opposite leg.
V-ups are a great exercise to help you strengthen your core and improve your stability. They can also help you develop better balance and coordination.
Start in a plank position with legs straight, toes on the floor, and arms extended back at shoulder height with palms facing down.
Inhale as you lift off of your hands until you’re in a sitting position with legs outstretched behind you and arms reaching overhead with palms facing up (think of doing “Elvis”!).
Exhale as you slowly lower down into the plank position again by lowering yourself onto your hands one at a time (it’s easier than it sounds).
Reach for ten reps before switching sides! If this feels too easy for you, try holding onto something for support or doing this exercise on an incline board or resistance band (see below).
Spiderman climbs are a great way to work your core, arms, and legs all at once. To perform the movement, start in a push-up position on your hands with your feet elevated on a box or bench. Place one hand forward so it’s facing away from you (as if you’re going to do a row). At the same time, turn your body so the other hand is also facing away from you.
Slowly lower yourself into an inverted plank position, like you’re doing a push-up, but keep both arms extended and parallel to each other. Pause at the bottom of this partial push-up for one second before pressing back up into the starting position; repeat until fatigue sets in!
To change this exercise, you can make it easier by putting your hands flat on top of each other instead of facing out in different directions, or you can make it harder by lowering to the ground.
Muscles worked: core/abs
Exercises that work similar muscles: regular spidermans (with legs together), pike pushups
The rollup is a simple core exercise that can help you gain control over your lower back.
To perform the rollup:
- Start on your knees with your arms extended overhead and palms facing inward towards each other. Your spine should be in a neutral position, meaning that it’s not rounded forward or arched backward.
- Exhale as you lift your head up and then curl into an upper push-up position by lifting off of the ground one vertebrae at a time until your chin is over the bar or handle, keeping it straight throughout this motion. Keep looking straight ahead at all times during this exercise; don’t let go with either hand until you reach full extension.
- Pause briefly before lowering yourself back down slowly to starting position through an identical range of motion (don’t let go until fully extended again).
Trunk rotations are a great exercise for the core. They can be done with a medicine ball or weight and are an excellent way to strengthen your obliques. The best thing about trunk rotations is that they can be performed anywhere, whether it’s in the gym or at home.
Hanging knee raises
The hanging knee raise is a simple exercise that can be performed anywhere, and it’s great for building strength in your core and lower body. To do this exercise, find a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart (or as wide as possible). Then hang from the bar with your arms straight. Next, raise your knees toward your chest by squeezing them together until they touch. Lower back to the starting position and do 15–20 reps before taking a 30-second or longer break, if needed.
Side Plank With a Crunch
A side plank with a crunch works for both sides. It’s essential to perform the same number of reps on either side. You will begin in a side plank position with your elbow down, your core engaged, and your hips elevated.
The top leg in the stack will crunch toward your free arm and engage the obliques and hip flexors. Ensure you evenly distribute your body weight to make it easier and more effective.
Squat to High Plank
A squat to a high plank is an excellent upper body workout because it requires you to engage your core, arms, shoulders, back, and glutes. While standing with your feet just past shoulder-width, perform a standard squat and, before returning to a standing position, place your hands on the floor and walk yourself forward.
Enter a high plank with your arms extended and pause for 30 seconds. You will walk yourself back to your squat to complete the cycle.
Squat With Rotation
A common mistake people make while waist training is wearing a waist trainer while doing core exercises. Do not do this, especially if you incorporate a rotating squat.
Start in a standing position, place your hands behind your head, and squat through the knees, engaging the core to keep your chest lifted. Twist to the right or left and raise your opposite knee to your elbow on your way back up. Repeat this cycle.
One of the most straightforward bodyweight exercises to improve your core is glute bridges. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Place your arms close to your body on the floor with your palms down.
Lift yourself off the floor through your core and engage your glutes. You may hold it in an elevated position to maximize the exercise. It’s essential to remember to return to the starting position in a controlled manner.
Dead bugs sound gross, right? This is a quick exercise you can add to any routine that engages the core and moves all extremities. Lay on the floor, lift your arms and legs perpendicular to the ground, and bend your knees to create a 90-degree angle.
Extend the arm and leg opposite each other and keep them a few inches off the ground to engage the core. Return to normal and repeat the cycle on the opposite extremities.
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to increase strength, especially core strength.
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to increase strength, especially core strength. They are also a great way to improve balance, flexibility, and coordination.
They can be done anywhere, anytime. You don’t need any equipment or even enough space for a barbell to use as part of your workout routine. You just need yourself! And if you’re short on time, bodyweight exercises can be done in small increments throughout the day instead of one long session at the gym.
There you have it—a list of bodyweight exercises that will help you develop a strong, stable core. The best part is that you can do these anywhere, so they’re perfect if you don’t have access to equipment or are on the go. Now get out there and get moving!
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3 “30 Best Bodyweight Core Exercises | Beginner to Advanced”. https://www.setforset.com/blogs/news/30-best-core-exercises
4 “The best core bodyweight circuit – Men’s Health”. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/g750209/best-core-bodyweight-circuit/
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Alex is a fitness aficionado, empowers others towards healthier, active lives through small, sustainable changes for lasting results. Visit Gearuptofit.com for insightful tips and resources to enrich a balanced lifestyle.