No Equipment Needed
Day 1: plank and isometric reverse crunch
Holding a forward plank for 20-30s, immediately flip to holding a reverse crunch for the same amount
Repeat 3-6 times
Day 2: Hand to toe
Try this for 30s per side, not resting between sides but after if necessary
Can’t keep your leg straight? Bend your knee and touch elbow to knee instead
Repeat 3-6 times
Day 3: Climbing Challenge
First area to get smoked: shoulders and upper abs, second, obliques and lower abs
Linking together two complimentary exercises that work the abs as a whole yet different is my favorite way to challenge core endurance
Try this: 30s mountain climbers then * immediately * into dying bugs, also for 30s
Rest 30-60s after that, try 3-5 total rounds
Day 4: Leg Drops and Planks with Pikes
30s of each should do the trick!
Rest 30s after both, not between, up to 5 rounds
Day 5: Plank (ATW) and Deadbugs (alt)
Around the world plank (lift one limb alternating in a rotating fashion) and then alternating deadbugs
30s of both should do the trick, 3-4 times (not a lot of burn, just a challenge!)
Day 6: Lower Ab Raises Plus Side plank with a hip drop
Nice combination for lower and side core work, but don’t cheat the motion and stay true to the exercise to feel the muscles doing the work
Day 7: Bent knee crunch and Walkouts
For both, keep tempo as the main priority, as rushing each rep won’t target the abs and will leave you feeling as if these exercises are not effective. Keep momentum out, and dial in that mind-muscle connection to really feel your abs do the work.
Day 8: Ab wheel (made harder)
If you are one of those people who feel their arms or shoulders more than Abs when doing their ab wheel, try this:
[Insert plank holds at the end of each rep ]
Version 1: at the end range of the ab wheel, hold 1-2s (without losing form) and then return back.
Version 2: Add 1s of a hold per rep, starting at 1s for rep 1, 2s for rep 2, so that at reps 8, 9 and 10 you’re holding the plank position for 8, 9 and 10s
Day 9: Rocky’s (Bodyweight, Dumbbell or Barbell)
Named after the movie, when Rocky raises his arms above his head, this exercise is awesome. Here’s a few tips to keep it locked in on your abs: tempo on the up: quick, and tempo down, 4-6s per rep. Start with a broomstick or PVC pipe even, and then move to a dumbbell or barbell. 6-8 reps is more than enough, as most will start to experience lower back fatigue (abs also are tired 😴).
This is not a sit-up! Use your legs to kick yourself up to 90 degrees with your legs and torso.
Day 10: Reverse Ab Wheel
This exercise surprised me with the difficulty, so if you’re just starting out, you can begin by starting with your hands on the ground, ending up with a push-up position (and no ab wheel)
Reps: 4-6, and keep tempo slow and controlled on the descent and ascent
Day 11: Alternating Single Leg Drops
While laying on your back and supporting your neck, brace your ribcage down and aim to keep your scapula off the ground, keep both legs straight to the ceiling, then alternate which leg you’ll drop (keep it straight) to the ground
Day 12: 6 Exercise Core Circuit
Try this 6 exercise circuit (cross body hand -> toe, pikes, plank with knee-> elbow and lat pulldown, 1 arm rocky situp, lower ab raises, miniband bicycles), one of two ways: 1) in circuit fashion, rotating thru each exercise one after the next, resting minimally between each exercise but 60-90s after each round
2) Straight sets, performing 3-4 sets of the same exercise, with 30-45s rest between each set, and then moving on to the next exercise (ideal for commercial gyms)
Day 13: Foam Roller Reverse Crunch
Reverse crunches are great, but too often people use way too much momentum and do not engage the Abs as much as they could, so in this version we are going lock down your heels to your hips, which allows you to focus directly on the core
Day 14: Swiss Ball – Extensions and Stir the Pot
Anyways, keeping your hips and abs engaged, taut and locked (no arch!), try these very different core exercises. Extensions are where you push your arms forward while holding the plank, and then stir the pot is the circular (small or large) motion of the arms while holding the plank. Modifications can be made to make harder or easier by simply holding the plank, and for the Stir the Pot, making the circles smaller.
Day 15: Hanging Leg Raises
One of the most popular exercises in magazines of old is the hanging leg raises, but a few keys 🔑 to differentiate this from the pictorial demonstrations from eons before:
– little sway (minimize) – shoulders away from ears – slowly lower legs – breathe out to raise legs – and if you have tight hamstrings – Only raise knees (at 90 degrees) – what if you cannot do without swaying? Learn to hold at 90 (knees bent first, then eventually reps of knees bent, then work up to leg raises
Day 16: Dragon Flags
One of the most difficult exercises to perform (correctly), here’s some tips: squeeze your glutes to keep lowering yourself as a plank / and a straight line between your shoulders and heels is massively important, and the lowering pace should be 2-5s per rep, raising pace should be 1-3s
Day 17: Band Resisted Reverse Crunch and Band Resisted Plank
Day 18: Turkish Get Up
Aka the TGU or Turkish Get up, it’s a detailed, complex exercise that is not for beginners (the half get up or top half get up are both good starts!)
Here’s the many steps of the exercise, as simple as possible:
1) Brace elbow to ribcage and grab bell in one hand while stabilizing in the other 2) Once on your back, press bell to ceiling and splay legs and arms in slightly open stances (see video) 3) Push up to opposite elbow, keeping bell above shoulder (eyes on the 🔔!) 4) Extend elbow 5) Extend hips on both sides so that only down hand and same side foot are in contact with ground (not including straightened leg) 6) Swing the opposite leg underneath to an almost half kneeling split squat (while hand remains on ground) 7) Sink into hips to brace against bell, and then ‘windmill’ up into tall Split squat position 8) Push thru both legs to stand up, all the while keeping the 🔔 above the shoulder (and 👀 on it!) 9) Return to the ground reversing the steps above
New to the exercise? Start with no weight.
Pain in any spot? Get help with someone who knows why that might be (or get looked at by a PT or Doc)
1-5 reps per side, no more (I did 6 sets of 1).
Day 19: Slow Slideboard Mountain Climber
Can do these on a kitchen / tile floor!
Day 20: Half TGU
Usually this exercise is a stepping stone in training the full Turkish get up, but actually, I have found it useful for bracing, engaging and targeting lower abs. Breathing out with each of these two steps enhances that engagement, try 3-5 reps per side, with a medium amount of weight (not max effort).
More reps can be used if you have enough shoulder endurance, and less weight if you’re just beginning!
Day 21: The Bodysaw
Aptly named as the movement looks like a saw, it can also be done with Val sliders, towels on a kitchen or tile floor, or a slide board or TRX. Few key 🔑 pointers :
– keep that ‘tail’ tucked between your legs, aka keeping your pelvis as neutral as possible (or slightly posterior) – keep forearms parallel to each other (not in diamond shape) which helps keep upper back flat – Breathe in as you lengthen / get longer, and breathe out as you shorten and come back – if you should feel this in your lower back, stop, and fix it! Usually fatigue or a hammock-looking lower back is to blame – 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps depending on distance. Lower abs, here we go!
Day 22: Side Plank Challenge
Side planks get a bad rap because most don’t ‘feel’ them, when in fact breathing and bracing while doing them make them 10x harder (so do that!), but once you have mastered that, add some movements to the exercise, and in this case alternate between two (bottom and top knee to top elbow). Start with one motion (top leg) first, then add the crisscross to the mix. Keeping your hips engaged will take those obliques to new height.
Day 23: Banded Bicycle Challenge
Using a miniband around toes, keep your scapula off the ground, and tailbone elevated for for 45s straight, rest 15s, then repeat 4x more (5′ total . Can also pair this with other exercises, in which you can do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps each leg
Day 24: Hotel Gym Core Challenge w/ One Dumbbell
In 30′ or less, try 5-8 reps of each exercise, before moving on to the next, as in:
5 Snatches, 5 Windmills, 5 Overhead Squats, 5 Squat to Press, 5 Single leg Rdl / Row, 5 Reverse Lunges
Day 25: Renegade Pushup with Row and Reach to Ceiling
A great challenge, start light, perform a pushup, row one dumbbell to your chest, extend that arm to the ceiling, then repeat the steps on the other side. Hard!
Day 26: Crunch Drop Set
Dumbbell crunch, legs elevated dumbbell crunch, anchored reverse crunch
Day 27: Barbell Strength
Anti rotations, Rotations, double kneeling rotations
Day 28: Deadbug modifications for low back or neck pain
Adding a yoga block or pillow will help maximize core recruitment for some who are experiencing back pain