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It also means doing not only rotational, but also anti-rotational moves – exercises where you twist and turn but also moves where you FIGHT your body’s urge to rotate as you fight to stay balanced.
That’s why I wanted to share some of the best core exercises to strengthen EVERYTHING without any equipment!
You can combine these moves to get in a killer core, and even cardio!, workout anywhere!
So try these 23 Bodyweight Core Exercises and build a lean, strong core that not only looks amazing but also helps you avoid injury! (And yea yea yea…losing fat is also about dialing in your diet. But you can learn more about dialing in your nutrition here!)
23 Bodyweight Core Exercises
These core moves will work your shoulders, back, abs, obliques, glutes, quads and even your adductors. They will target everything between your shoulders and your knees.
And the best part is, there are even options if you can’t get down on the ground! So whether you need a standing core move, a plank variation or a crunch or sit up, these 23 core exercises have you covered and no equipment is needed!
1. Mountain Climber Bridge (0:43):
This rotational move is a great way to improve your shoulder stability while working your abs, glutes, and obliques!
To do the Mountain Climber Turkish Bridge, set up in a high plank position with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your hands under your shoulders. Then drive one knee in and across your body to the opposite elbow, like a cross-body mountain climber. Move to straighten that leg back out and, as you do, kick it back over your body to rotate open into the Turkish Bridge.
So if you tucked your right knee in, you will then rotate your right leg back over your body to the left as you lift your right hand up off the ground so you can fully rotate open.
You’ll lift your hand up toward the ceiling as you place the foot of the leg you kicked over flat on the ground. That knee will be bent as your other leg stays straight. Keep your hand on the ground under your shoulder and bridge your hips up by squeezing your glute. Make sure the foot of the leg you kicked over is flat on the ground to help you engage and load that glute. Pause here briefly and really focus on bridging up as your hand stays under your shoulder.
Then bring the leg back over and in for the cross body mountain climber. Feel around your rib cage work as you rotate as well as your abs in the mountain climber and glutes in the bridge portion. Move at a controlled pace so you can feel everything working.
2. Double Climbers (0:57):
Work your arms, shoulders, abs, obliques and quads with this hybrid plank variations.
To do Double Climbers, set up in a forearm front plank with your feet about hip-width apart and your elbows under your shoulders. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Holding this nice plank position while bracing your abs, tuck one knee up and outside your body toward your elbow. You can rotate just slightly and look at the knee but do not let your hips sag or your butt go up in the air. Also, make sure your elbows stay under your shoulders.
Place the foot back and tuck the other knee up and outside. Place that foot back.
Then place one hand down on the ground under your shoulders followed by the other hand to climb from a forearm plank to a high plank. Try to brace your core as you climb and not stick your butt up in the air.
Then, from this high plank position, perform another knee tuck up and outside on each side. Then climb back down.
Alternate which hand leads the climb and make sure one hand isn’t always leading! Remember in each plank position to do a knee tuck on each side!
3. Side Plank Two Way Leg Raise (1:15):
This killer side plank will work your abs, obliques, shoulders, quads and glutes! The two way leg raises make this a challenging move!
To do the Side Plank Two Way Leg Raise, set up in a side plank from your forearm with your elbow under your shoulder and your feet stacked. You can reach your top hand overhead or up toward the ceiling.
From the side plank position, lift your top leg up and kick it forward as you reach your raise hand to touch it. Do not let your bottom hip sag but slightly crunch to touch your toe with your hand.
After touching your hand to your foot, straighten your leg back out, even lightly tapping it down to your other foot, as you reach your hand up toward the ceiling.
Then lift your leg straight up toward the ceiling, feeling your glute medius work. Lower your leg back down then repeat the kick forward as you touch your hand to your toe again.
Throughout this entire move keep that bottom hip up!
4. Side Plank With Taps (1:29):
Target your obliques and glutes with this amazing side plank variation!
To do the Side Plank with Taps, set up on your side and prop yourself up on your forearm with your elbow right below your shoulder. Your legs should be out straight and feet stacked. Then, driving through your forearm and the sides of your feet, lift your bottom hip up off the ground as high as possible while keeping your body in a nice straight line.
Squeeze your belly button in toward your spine and keep your glutes tight. Do not let your chest rotate forward toward the ground or your top hand touch the ground. Keep your top hand on your hip or reach it up toward the ceiling.
Then, holding the Side Plank, lift your top leg up toward the ceiling, then bring it forward to lower down and tap the ground in front of you. Raise it back up center then lower down to tap the ground behind you. Move slowly, lifting and lower with taps front and back.
5. Plank Skater Hops (1:42):
If you want to work your shoulders, abs and quads, you’ll want to include this cardio-core move!
To do Plank Skater Hops, start in a bulldog position from your hands and toes with your knees bent to about 90 degrees and feet together behind you. Straighten one leg out to the side and slight back, touching the toe down. You may even slightly shift the other foot more center under your body as you reach the straight leg out to the side.
Then hop that straight leg back in, bending it as you do, as you hop the other leg out laterally. You will almost be shuffling back and forth laterally while in the plank position. Keep your hands under your shoulders as you do. Your butt shouldn’t be way up in the air as you shuffle/hop side to side. You may “bounce” but your butt shouldn’t be up in the air.
Beginners may do less of a hop and move more slowly while advanced exercisers should hop quickly side to side. Remember to keep one knee bent under your body as the other leg goes out to the side. The straight leg will be out to the side and slightly back as you hop back and forth.
6. Push Up Twist Sit Back (1:56):
Work your chest, shoulders, triceps and CORE with this killer push up variation!
To do the Push Up Twist Sit Back, set up in a high plank position with your feet just a few inches apart and your hands outside your chest. Perform a push up with your body moving as one unit. Do not let your hips sag or butt go up in the air.
As you come to the top of the push up, push back to sit your butt back toward one heel. You will twist as you sit back toward your heels with your arms straight as if you are sitting back into child’s pose.
Come back forward and center before repeating the push up. Then as you come to the top again, sit back toward the opposite heel.
7. Two Way Bird Dog (2:08):
If you think that basic bird dog is easy, you’re in for a treat with this variation. This move combines that basic with the plank bird dog for a killer anti-rotational move! This will improve your shoulder stability while working your abs, obliques and glutes!
To do the Two-Way Bird Dog, set up on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. You can have your knees just slightly back if that feels more comfortable to then lift up into a plank from your toes as you will transition back and forth.
Flex your feet then straighten one leg out behind you. Lift that leg up toward the ceiling keeping it straight as you raise your opposite arm out toward the wall in front of you. Brace your abs and keep your hips and chest square to the ground as you lift your arm and your leg. Do not rotate open as you lift.
Touch your foot down and place your hand back under your shoulder. Then lift the other knee up off the ground so you’re in the high plank position.
Then lift that same arm and leg up to reach out. Squeeze your glute as you lift.
Place your hand and foot back down then drop that other knee to the ground again to repeat the basic bird dog before moving back into the high plank bird dog.
Complete all reps on one side before switching.
8. Plank Hop Overs (2:20):
Love this cardio plank move! Core work and cardio!? YAY!
To do the Plank Hop Overs, set up in a bulldog position with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Flex your feet and then walk your feet to one side just outside your shoulder.
Then pushing off your hands, jump your feet up and over as if jumping over something on the ground.
Keep your feet together as you jump.
Jump so you land with your feet just outside the other shoulder. Do not straighten your legs out as you jump over. Stay in that bulldog position although your knees can shift out beyond your hips slightly.
As soon as you land, jump your feet back to your starting position. Continue to do quick hops back and forth. Avoid shrugging your shoulders as you hop.
9. Single Leg V-Up Leg Lower (2:30):
This is a great sit up variation that, while not fully unilateral, does force each side to work slightly independently, especially targeting your hips and quads independently as your abs work to stabilize!
To do the Single Leg V-Up Leg Lower, lie on your back with your legs out straight and arms reaching up toward the ceiling. Then sit up and, as you do, lift one leg up toward the ceiling.
Come to balancing on your butt then slowly lower your leg down before you roll back to lie down.
Again sit back up, lifting the same leg at the same time. Lower the leg slowly then once it is fully on the ground, lie back.
Try not to swing your arms overhead to generate momentum. Keep reaching them up toward the ceiling or out toward your feet while seated.
10. Leg Raise Rainbows (2:44):
This killer crunch variation will work your abs, hips, obliques and quads! You need to make sure though that you round your spine just slightly as you lean back or you’ll only feel your hip flexors!
To do Leg Raise Rainbows, sit on the ground with your legs out straight and together toward one side as you lean back to put your hands on the ground right besides/behind your butt.
With your legs straight, lean back and tap your feet to the ground just wider than one shoulder (you don’t actually need to touch the ground with your feet just come close). Crunch your upper body forward as you lift your legs up and bring them center. Feel your abs working to lift and arch your legs up and center.
Then lean back as you lower your legs to tap the ground on the other side outside the other shoulder. Repeat arching your legs back up and center to lower down on the other side.
As you raise your legs you will crunch up and then you will lean back as you lower down. Your arms are there to help you balance but you don’t want them to really start to work. Use your abs and even feel your hips and quads.
Beginners can keep their knees bent or do one leg at a time.
11. Twisty Crunchy Frogs (3:00):
Work your abs, obliques, hips and quads with this killer crunch move!
To do Twisty Crunchy Frogs, sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you. Place your hands on the ground behind you with your fingers pointing out to the sides or back toward your butt. Lean back and lift your legs a few inches off the ground.
Crunch your knees in toward one shoulder as you crunch your upper body forward rotating away from your knees slightly. You will push off your hands just slightly to help you bring your chest forward toward your knees, but don’t turn this into an upper body exercises. Your hands are there more for balance.
Then lean back center as you extend your legs back out center before quickly crunching your knees back in and toward the opposite shoulder as you sit back up rotating away. You should think of your legs almost like a frog pushing off to jump!
12. Tabletop to Side Plank Kick (3:12):
This is an advanced side plank variation and a great move to work your shoulders, abs, obliques, hips, glutes and quads.
To do the Tabletop to Side Plank Kick, it may be easiest to set up first in the side plank from your hand. Stack your feet and engage your back to support your shoulder. You can reach your top hand overhead.
From the side plank position, lift your top leg up and kick it forward as you reach your raise hand to touch it. After touching your hand to your foot, straighten them back out.
And as you bring your arm back out and straighten your leg back out toward the side plank position, bend your knee, rotating your body open toward the ceiling as you put that foot on the ground behind. You will move into an almost turkish bridge position.
From here, raise your straight leg up (the one that was your bottom leg in the side plank) and reach the opposite hand to touch your toe. You are doing a kick from a tabletop position and reaching your hand to touch your toe.
Place the straight leg back down and move back into the side plank position and kick the top leg forward as you reach to touch your toe to repeat the move.
13. See Saw (3:25):
Work your abs, hips and quads with this version of the hollow body hold or banana.
To do the See Saw, lie on your back with your legs out straight and arms reaching overhead on the ground. Engage your abs, pressing your lower back into the ground as you lift your arms and shoulders and legs up off the ground.
The higher up you raise your legs, the easier the move will be. Also, work to get your shoulder blades up off the ground as much as possible as you continue to reach overhead, even clasping your arms together.
Then roll back so your shoulders touch the ground. Try not to flex more at the hips or swing your legs to rock back.
Rock back then rock back forward so that you come to an almost seated position. Slightly slow or pause here then rock back again.
You will use momentum to rock back, but you do want to slow to stabilize for a split second as you sit up. Try not to really flex more at your hips though to help you rock.
14. Banana Rolls (3:35):
Work your abs and obliques with this version of the hollow body hold! It’s a great core stability move to use if you have shoulder issues so planks are a no-go!
To do Banana Rolls, lie on your back with your legs out straight and arms reaching overhead on the ground. Engage your abs, pressing your lower back into the ground as you lift your arms and shoulders and legs up off the ground.
The higher up you raise your legs, the easier the move will be. Also, work to get your shoulder blades up off the ground as much as possible as you continue to reach overhead, even clasping your arms together.
Then roll to one side without going all of the way over. Pause and balance. You won’t fully be on your side, but you want to get as close as possible without touching down your arms or legs or going all the way over.
Roll back center and then roll to the other side. Pause and roll back center.
Feel your abs working and don’t let your low back take over. Keep your feet up off the ground the entire time. Raise your legs up higher or bend your knees if needed. Even perform smaller rocks to each side.
Make sure to roll slowly and in a controlled fashion. Don’t just use momentum to go side to side.
15. Body Saw (3:49):
Extended plank variations are a great way to target your LOWER ABS! Plus this plank will get your blood pumping!
To do the Body Saw, set up in a Plank position from your forearms and toes with your feet close together. Your forearms should be right under your shoulders and your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Then begin to walk your feet backward, taking small steps. Keep your body in a nice straight line and don’t let your hips sag toward the ground. Lengthen through your triceps and lats as you walk back. Walk back as far as you can while keeping your core engaged.
Then walk your feet back forward until you are back in the Forearm Front Plank. Do not let your butt go up in the air as you walk your feet back in.
Repeat, walking your feet back out. Only walk out as far as you can without your low back engaging. If your low back feels this move, don’t walk out as far. Start with only a few steps.
16. Plank With Reach Back and Out (4:02):
Work on your shoulder stability as well as your anti-rotational core strength with this plank. It’s a great glute and ab activation move!
To do the Plank with Reach Back and Out, set up in a Front Plank from your hands and toes with your hands under your shoulders and your feet about hip-width to shoulder-width apart. For this move, you will want your feet wider to create a more stable base. Beginners can do this move from their knees.
Then from the Plank position, reach one hand back and across toward the opposite ankle, pushing your butt back and up toward the ceiling as you reach. Then reach back forward and out toward the wall in front of you, dropping your hips back into a nice plank position.
Do not drop your hips too low and feel your low back engage. Keep your core tight to protect your low back as you come back into that nice plank position. Reach back and across with the same hand until all reps are complete on that side.
17. Dolphin Plank (4:14):
The Dolphin Plank is a great way to work your core through spinal flexion and extension – it’s not your usual “stability plank.” You will brace your abs as you extend and then use your abs to flex and tilt.
To do Dolphin Planks, set up in a plank from your forearms and toes (advanced) or knees (beginner). Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your elbows. Brace your core and engage your back as you hold your body in a nice straight line from your head to your heels or knees.
Then sag your hips toward the ground without completing relaxing onto the ground before rounding your back up toward the ceiling. You want to sag your hips only as low as you can without your low back taking over. You should feel your abs still engaging.
When you round up at the top, you aren’t simply sticking your butt up in the air. You want to round your entire back and perform the pelvic tilt. It is almost like you are doing the “cat” in the cat/cow stretch. Do not push backward too much as you do it. Keep your shoulders stacked over your elbows.
Then lower back down and sag your hips before rounding back up. Pause in each position to really feel your core working.
18. Plank Jack Leg Kick (4:27):
Hybrid planks like this Plank Jack Leg Kick are a great way to work your shoulders, glutes, abs and quads while also getting your blood pumping!
To do the Plank Jack Leg Kick, start in the high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your feet together. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Brace your abs then jump your feet out wide to each side as if doing a Jumping Jack. As you jump, do not let your butt go way up in the air or your hips sag down toward the ground. Keep your abs engaged.
Then quickly jump your feet back in together, to that nice starting plank position. Do not shrug your shoulders or bend your arms as you jump back. Also watch that your hands don’t move forward in front of your shoulders.
Holding here, kick one heel up toward the ceiling. Squeeze your butt as you lift and don’t just swing your leg up. Place that foot down, then kick your other foot back toward the ceiling. Brace your abs and do not arch your lower back just to kick up higher.
Then repeat the jack before doing the kickbacks again.
Beginners may need to start by stepping instead of jumping.
19. Posterior Plank Mountain Climbers (4:39):
If you sit all day at a desk, the posterior plank is an amazing activation exercise to include that will also stretch out everything that gets tight from your “desk job posture!” This move will work your entire backside and, because of the mountain climbers, even work your abs, quads and hips!
To do the Posterior Plank Mountain Climbers, sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you and your hands down behind your butt on the ground.
Then, driving up through your heels and your hands, press your hips up toward the ceiling and press your chest out. As you bridge up, squeeze your butt and lift your hips up as high as you can while keeping your legs straight and your chest pressed out. Do not shrug your shoulders at the top as you press your chest out.
Hold at the top with your body in a nice straight line. Do not hyperextend your back. Then slowly tuck one knee in toward your chest. Tuck it in as far as you can.
Then straighten the leg back out. Place the foot back down then tuck your other knee in. Feel your glutes and hamstrings working to hold you up as your abs work to tuck your knee in. Beginners can start with a tabletop variation as they tuck instead of the full Posterior Plank.
20. Side Lunge With Knee (4:52):
Lunging in every direction will help you improve your hip stability. And with this side lunge variation you’ll not only work your glutes and inner thighs but also your abs and obliques!
To do the Side Lunge with Knee Drive, start standing tall then lunge out to the side, sitting your butt back as you hinge forward slightly and load your glute. Push your butt back and sink down, bending your outside knee as your other leg stays straight. You can reach to the ground or keep your hands at your chest. It can even be helpful to reach the opposite arm toward the heel you lunged out with to help you sit back.
Then quickly drive back to standing and, without touching your foot down if possible, drive that knee up and in across your body. You can rotate your upper body toward that knee almost as if pulling someone’s head down and across your body into your knee. Touch the toe down if needed then repeat the lunge back out followed by the quick knee drive.
Feel your legs working with the lunge and your abs working with the knee drive and rotation.
Beginners may not sink as low in the lunge or step out as far. They may also touch their toe down to balance between the lunge and knee drive.
21. Lunge With Kick (5:04):
Work your legs, glutes and abs with this lunge variation. It will test your balance and even help you strengthen your hip flexors as you get your blood pumping!
To do the Reverse Lunge to Kick, start standing with your feet together. Step back and sink into a reverse lunge, lowering your back knee toward the ground as you keep your chest up and bend your front knee. Try to keep your front knee about over your ankle. Really sit back in that front heel.
Then drive through that front heel to come back up to standing. Without touching that back toe down, kick that leg out in front as you stand up. Feel your hips and abs work to kick the leg out as your other glute works to keep you balanced. If you need, touch the toe down to help you balance as you stand up out of the lunge or even after you kick out. But only touch the toe down if needed to balance.
After kicking out, repeat the lunge on the same side.
22. Lunge With Oblique Knee Tuck (5:18):
Work your glutes, legs, abs and obliques with this lunge variation. It will challenge your balance and even work each side independently, which is an added bonus if you have any imbalances you want to correct!
To do the Lunge With Oblique Knee Tuck, start standing tall with your hands on your shoulders or by your head to help with the twist. Then lunge back with your right foot, dropping your back knee down toward the ground as you keep your chest up. Keep your front heel down as you lunge back and bend your front knee to about 90 degrees as you load your glute. Keep your front knee about over your ankle to help you think about loading your glute.
Drive back up to standing, pushing through your left (front) heel. As you drive up, bring your back knee up and forward as you come to standing. Tuck your right knee up and rotate your upper body toward that right knee. You can slight crunch toward the knee but don’t just round over.
Twist toward that knee then lunge back again and repeat on the same side. Make sure to engage the glute of your standing leg and feel your abs work to twist toward your knee. You can tap your toe down to balance if needed between the lunge and knee drive. The less though that you tap down between the harder the move will be.
23. Squat With Oblique Knee Tuck (5:32):
Get your blood pumping and work your core while standing. This move will work your abs, obliques and legs!
To do the Squat with Oblique Knee Tuck, start standing tall with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. You can place your hands on your shoulders or up by your head with your elbows out.
Then sit back and squat down, dropping to about parallel to the ground. Make sure your heels stay down as you sit down and back as low as you can.
Drive back up to standing and, as you do, tuck one knee up as you rotate your opposite elbow toward your knee. It’s almost as if you’re marching up and rotating toward that leg. You may crunch slightly but you don’t just want to round over. You want to tuck your knee up as high as you can as you rotate toward that leg.
Put the foot back down and repeat the squat before tucking and twisting to the other side.
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