Core Exercise Compilation!

A compilation of 70+ fun & creative core exercises grouped by the equipment they require

Building a strong core is super important whether you’re an athlete or a weekend warrior. A solid core will give you the foundation to increase your strength and endurance, improve your balance and stability, and can improve your posture and help prevent injuries.

Since I became a personal trainer, one of my hobbies and coaching specialities has become concocting new and challenging (and sometimes off-the-wall) ways to work your core. I decided to go back and collect all the core compilations videos I’ve made over the last couple years into one place. The exercises are grouped by the equipment they require and chances are you own at least one (got one dumbbell??). Take a look and put together your own at-home core workout with the options below!

Jump ahead by section:

Foam Roller

The foam roller… not just for self-massage / myofascial release. The exercises:

  1. Plank walks (move forward to increase the challenge)
  2. Shoulder taps
  3. Forearm forward rollouts
  4. Reverse rollouts
  5. Side plank rotation roll-up

Combine 1-3 for fun combos. Or toss in the foam roller push up for an added chest and shoulder stability challenge. These exercises are deceptively hard if you don’t train your core regularly – set your feet up nice and wide, drop to your knees, and/or put the foam roller on a soft surface to decrease the difficulty at first.

Sliders

Sliders are an awesome fitness tool because they’re cheap and portable. You can get a complete workout with just one set and a small space on a floor that slides. You can also do slider exercises using just towels (or in your socks!) on a hardwood floor at home. This video has eight of my favorite core exercises that use sliders. Check ‘em out! The exercises:

  1. Mountain sliders
  2. Knee tucks (with obstacle)
  3. Around the worlds
  4. Three point knee tucks
  5. Pikes
  6. Plank slide outs
  7. Forearm saw
  8. Army crawl

My favorite way to get a good core workout with sliders is in the form of circuits or supersets. Pick 2-3 out of this list to perform back-to-back with no rest 💪⚡️.

Stability Ball

I like the stability ball because it forces you to use your stabilizer (duh) muscles to do the exercises clean and with control. With that in mind, it’s important to think about doing the reps of these exercises slowly and maintaining good form. You’ll notice that the one exercise that most people probably think of, the stability ball crunch, didn’t make the cut because I think these eight exercises are more effective! The exercises:

  1. Forearm saw
  2. Around the world
  3. Plank knee drives
  4. Dead bug
  5. V-up pass
  6. Knee tucks
  7. Mountain climber
  8. Side plank

This is the third time we’ll see a variation of the plank saw in this series (see sliders and foam roller), and I think this one is the most effective. It’s important to remember to really brace your core on this one and limit the range of motion if you feel any stress in your lower back – you’ll feel the burn with even tiny saw motions 🔥. The Around the World exercise takes the forearm saw to the next level, requiring more stability and control. Taking a nice wide stance on both of these exercises gives you more leverage and make them a little bit easier. I think a lot of these exercises are deceptively difficult, I’d recommend starting with the dead bug and V-up pass for beginners. I was personally caught off guard by how hard a side plank is on the stability ball is – give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Dumbbell

This video is cool because it’s practical – a lot of people have a pair of dumbbells lying around at home. Now you can go beyond your run-of-the-mill bicep curls and get a complete core workout with one of those dumbbells too! These are also solid exercises to know when the gym is packed and you wanna squeeze in some core work at the end of your workout – just grab a dumbbell off the rack, find a quiet corner, and let it rip. The exercises:

  1. Sit-up + oblique crunch
  2. Plank dumbbell push
  3. Plank dumbbell drag
  4. Plank fly
  5. Plank front raise
  6. Side plank raise
  7. Side plank fly
  8. Side plank hold (+ leg raise)

For many of these exercises (1, 4, 5, 6, 7), the lighter the dumbbell, the better. The challenge here is stabilizing your (side) plank while you’ve got the dumbbell movements altering your center of gravity, so no need to overdue it on weight. You’ll also notice that most of these exercises will secondarily work your shoulders, so I like to use these as a way to get my core work in at the end of a shoulder workout. Try exercises 1 & 2 back-to-back as a fun superset (~8 reps on the right then left for each). And give exercise 8 a shot if you’re getting tired (or too good at) holding a standard side plank.

Kettlebell

Known mostly for ballistic movements and swings, kettlebells can also be used to light up your abs/obliques with these core-isolating exercises:

  1. Standing windmill
  2. Kneeling windmill
  3. Pullover
  4. Bicycle
  5. Windshield wiper
  6. Leg raise
  7. Russian twist
  8. Plank walk over

Some tips & cues: For the windmill exercises, think about trying to stack your shoulders at the end of the movement, keeping your eyes focused on the bell and the bell pointed straight up at the ceiling the entire time. I like to think about standing in a narrow space between two walls while doing the standing variation to keep my movement in the frontal plane. The kneeling windmill is a slightly more challenging variation, make sure you control your motion all the way to the ground, engaging your obliques to land softly on your hand.

For all the lying exercises (#3-6), focus on keeping your lower back pressed on the ground to keep your core engaged and your back safe. For the leg raise and windshield wiper, see if you can keep the kettlebell as still as possible by imagining that you’re pressing it up towards the ceiling (it’s hard to do with the wipers!). Keep a “proud” chest on the Russian twists, and rotate your shoulders as well to make sure you’re using your core. Pick a heavier kettlebell for the plank walk overs to make it more stable or go lighter if you want more instability for a good challenge.

Resistance Band

This video uses one resistance band (and anchor point) to do seven challenging core exercises, including two variations of a new favorite of mine, the Palloff press. Resistance bands are nice because we can easily control the resistance using distance from the anchor point, the more the band is stretched, the more challenging the movement. So make sure you get a good squeeze at the top of the movements when the resistance is highest! The exercises:

  1. Kneeling Palloff press
  2. Overhead Palloff press
  3. Side plank rotation
  4. Side plank row
  5. Side plank press
  6. Plank pulldown
  7. Band pull leg raise

As I mentioned, the Palloff press is one of my new go-to’s. It teaches and strengthens core stability, which is great for beginners learning to engage their core or for more advanced people building a solid foundation for more powerful lifts or endurance training. As you press the band away from your body, you need to use core stabilization to resist core rotation (for kneeling Palloff press) and lateral flexion (for overhead Palloff press). These are awesome exercises for your obliques and for shoulder stability too. For all the side plank exercises, think hips high & core tight. Try to rotate a full 90 degrees on the side plank rotation, pointing your elbow to the sky and straight out to the side. Drop to a knee, use a lighter band, or move closer to the anchor point to decrease the difficulty at first if needed.

TRX

Alright, alright I know everyone doesn’t have a TRX Suspension Trainer lying around their house. But most gyms have a couple of them. And more importantly, I think the TRX is probably the single most effective tool for training your core. With your feet suspended in the straps, your core works double-time to keep these exercises under control as you crunch/rotate/extend in the air with little leverage. The exercises:

  1. Knee tucks
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. Pikes
  4. Forearm saw
  5. Oblique crunch
  6. Knee tuck twist
  7. Side plank rotation
  8. Side plank crunch
  9. Side plank knee tucks

Exercises 1-4 target your abdominals while 5-9 primarily target your obliques. I like to select a few exercises from each group accordingly to emphasize one or the other in a single workout. Disclaimer: these core exercises on the TRX are pretty advanced. You can make them a little bit easier by backing up underneath your anchor point to create less resistance in the crunching/knee-tucking exercises (moving forward will make them more challenging). A good starting point is just working on your plank and side plank holds with your feet in the TRX. Once you feel stabile and comfortable here, you can start to experiment with the exercises in the video.

Slamball

Slamballs – not just for slamming! 🤓 Light up your core with these exercises:

  1. Sit up foot strike
  2. Knee tucks
  3. Sit up knee tucks
  4. Spiderman (incline/decline)
  5. Russian twist slams
  6. Plank Saw
  7. Side plank hip dip
  8. Side plank rotation
  9. Side plank heel/toe tap

➡️Beginners – start with exercises 1, 4, and 5 and modify the side plank exercises by putting your forearm on the slamball instead of your feet to make them easier. ➡️People with back issues – skip the knee tucks (2) and sit up knee tucks (3) or use a lighter slamball and make sure you’re keeping your lower back pressed into the ground throughout the movement (reduce your range of motion if you can’t). ➡️Runners – incorporate side plank hip dips (7) and heel/toe taps (9) into your strength training routine to work your core while getting some bonus hip abductor/adductor strengthening in for a sturdier foundation to prevent injuries!

Cable Machine

Last but not least, a rapid-fire video of 10+ core exercises for cable machines in 60 seconds 🔥 Most are rotation and anti-rotation that work your obliques and transverse abdominals (your deep/functional abs). The palloff press variations have been some of my go-to’s over the last couple years cause they don’t only work your core but require you to activate basically all of your major muscle groups. They’re also perfect for beginners and more advanced people alike. The side-plank row/press/fly exercises are awesome accessory work for your push/pull days at the gym…. And yes, I had to throw in some of the (boring?) classics like chops and crunches 🤷‍♂️ Give em a whirl! 💪

Published by

Jim Warner Fitness & Endurance Training

*USA Triathlon Certified Coach *ACE Certified Personal Trainer *NPTI Kettlebell Certification *NPTI TRX Suspension Training Certification *Conditioning Coach at Jungle Gym Strength & Conditioning, Newport News, VA *Amateur Endurance Athlete -Boston Marathon Qualifier -Ironman Triathlete -Cross-country Cyclist

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