Core – Comprising the musculature between the knees and the shoulders.

Bird-Dog/Quadruped Exercise

Difficulty: Beginner

Muscle Group: Core

Goals: Keep hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Keep the core braced throughout.

Avoid: rocking from side to side, allowing the knees/hips or hands/shoulders to come out of alignment, or allowing the hips to move laterally.


Bird-Dog/Quadruped Subtle Mistakes

Muscle Group: Core

Mistake 1: Allowing your extended arm or leg to stray from the sagittal plane (as you can see my arm pointing out to the side, causing my leg to point slightly outwards as well).

Mistake 2: Allowing the hips/knees to come out of alignment. This exercise seems easy for those who don’t keep the hips and knees perfectly aligned – leading to mistake 3.

Mistake 3: Allowing the hip to pop out to the side (which you can see here), making it visible that the knee is no longer directly below the hip joint. This mistake reduces core and glute activation, which is the goal of this exercise.


Single-Knee Raised Bird-Dog or Quadruped Exercise

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

This variation of the bird-dog/quadruped exercise automatically increases core activation. Perform this variation once you’re proficient at the normal bird-dog/quadruped.

Keep the knee directly below the hip as you bring your arm and leg back to the starting position and as you point them out. Don’t allow your free knee/hip (the side not raised) to drop down as you bring them back in.


Hanging Leg Raise

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced

Muscle Group: Core, Hip Flexors

Start by hanging from a pull-up bar.

Beginner: bend your knees and raise them up to at least hip-height.

Intermediate: Keep your legs as straight as possible and raise your feet up to hip-height.

Advanced: Bend at the hips and bring your toes up to the bar you’re hanging from and lower them back down slowly.


Hanging Windmill

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core

Start by hanging from a pull-up bar. Keep your legs straight and bring your toes around in a circle, pause, and reverse the movement.


Hanging Windmill Advanced

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core, Back

Start by hanging from a pull-up bar. Pull yourself halfway up and flex at the hips to 90 degrees, keeping your elbows bent and torso leaned backwards. Rotate at the torso back and forth while keeping your legs together and extended.


Landmine Russian Twist

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Place a barbell in a landmine or against something that doesn’t move. Maintain a braced core and slight bend in the knees and elbows throughout. Start slightly facing one direction with the barbell just above your outside knee and both hands around the barbell. Rotate your core and lift the barbell up and over to the opposite side in a controlled motion, pause, and return to the starting position.


Lateral Deceleration With Med Ball

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Lower Body, Core

Shuffle from side to side holding a med ball in front of you. Use the med ball to rotate outwards as you change directions and add resistance to this deceleration drill along with added core stability.


Medicine Ball Slam: Do’s and Don’ts

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Muscle Groups: Core, Lats

Set feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent from the start. Start with the ball raised above your head. As you slam downwards, flex the core and bend the knees (focus on “crunching” your abs as you slam).

Be sure your face gets out of the way if you have a ball that bounces a lot (I’ve seen it happen before and it’s not pretty).


Meier Press (Parter)

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced

Muscle Group: Core

Keep your entire core braced throughout the movement.

Set up with feet outside shoulder width, knees bent, hips slightly pushed back, and hands together while outstretched in front of your sternum.

Have your partner push against your hands as you try to resist rotational movement. After you finish one side, switch to the other side and repeat.

The time under tension for each “push” can vary, but start by pushing for 2-3 seconds, with 1-2 seconds of rest, repeated 3-4 times per set.

I will write programming like this: “3 x 3/3s” which means three sets per side, and each set consists of 3 reps (pushes) held for 3 seconds each.

*If you’re pushing for a partner, don’t push the hands past the outside of the shoulders. The hands shouldn’t be allowed to move further than about 6-8 inches – if the hands do get pushed out past the shoulders, you’re pushing too hard for the strength of your partner.


Meier Press (Wall)

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced

Muscle Group: Core

Find the corner of a wall, a door frame, a street sign while you wait to cross, or anything stable. Set up in front of the object with feet outside shoulder width, knees bent, hips slightly pushed back, and hands together while outstretched in front of your sternum.

As you keep your core braced and hands out in front of your sternum, just push your hands (rotate your torso) into the object as easy or as hard as you want, noticing that your entire core must brace to allow you to put pressure into the object.

Make sure to BREATH if you hold the push for longer than 2-3 seconds. Breathing while bracing your core like this will carry over into everyday life – helping your core learn how to stay braced for movement while breathing constantly, not to mention keep you from getting light-headed while doing the exercise.

The time under tension for each “push” can vary, but start by pushing for 2-3 seconds, with 1-2 seconds of rest, repeated 3-4 times per set.

I will write programming like this: “3 x 3/3s” which means three sets per side, and each set consists of 3 reps (pushes) held for 3 seconds each.


Pallof Press Common Mistakes

Common mistakes when performing the Pallof Press and Horizontal Twist.


Pallof Press: With Horizontal Twist

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Start with feet outside shoulder width and knees slightly bent. Press the handle out with both hands, pause, rotate towards the anchor, then twist away from the anchor, pause, and return to midline before you bring your hands back in.


Pallof Press: Lateral Walk

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core, Hips

Start with feet outside shoulder width and knees slightly bent. Press the handle out and take 2-4 lateral steps away from the anchor, pause, and return 2-4 steps back to starting position, all while keeping both arms locked and straight out in front of your chest.

Make sure your weight is in your heels and your feet don’t become too close together as you step – this will allow you to prevent twisting of your body.


Pallof Press: Lunge Stance

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core

Grab a resistance band with both hands and drop down into a lunge, with the leg that is closest to the anchor in front. Holding the lunge position with your back knee 1-3 inches above the ground and your front knee right above your ankle, push the handle straight out, pause, and return to your chest.

To increase difficulty and add a horizontal twist, just perform the horizontal twist while in the bottom of the lunge. This greatly increases the balance demand of this exercise.


Pallof Press: Single Arm Press

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core, Shoulder Stability

Keep knees slightly bent throughout. Just as with a normal Pallof Press, start with the elbows tucked into the ribs, press the band straight out, pause, and return to the starting position.


Pallof Press: Squat Stance

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Start with feet outside shoulder width and knees slightly bent. Grab the handle and squat down until your thighs are near parallel to the ground (the lower you squat, the harder it becomes). Holding the squat position, push the handle out, pause, and bring back in slowly. Attempt to keep your weight equally distributed between legs.


Pallof Press: With Squat

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core, Hips

Start with feet outside shoulder width and knees slightly bent. Press the handle out, drop down into a squat without letting your hands pull laterally, and return to standing position.

Equally distribute your weight between legs and keep the “out” position of the pallof press throughout the entire set.


Physioball Jackknife

Difficulty: Beginner

Muscle Group: Core, Hip Flexors

Assume a plank position with the front of the ankles on the top of the ball (the closer the ball is to the knees, the easier it will be). Tuck your knees in and pull them towards your chest. Don’t allow your shoulders to lean backwards behind your hands, and don’t allow your shins to touch the ball when you are in the “tucked” position.


Physioball Pike

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Assume a plank position with the front of the ankles on the top of the ball. Point your toes downwards and roll upwards, forming an upside down “V” with your body, hinging at the hips, pause, and return slowly to plank position.


Physioball Plank – Forward/Back

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Assume a plank position with the elbows on the top of the ball and the hands together. Roll your elbows forward and backwards; the farther forward you roll, the harder it is.

Don’t allow your lower back to drop.


Physioball Rocking Plank

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Assume a plank position with your elbows on the top of the ball and hands together with feet at least shoulder-width apart. Roll your elbows back and forth just enough to feel the work on the core shift from side to side.


Physioball Rollout

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Assume a plank position with the front of the ankles on the top of the ball (the closer the ball is to the knees, the easier it gets). While keeping the core braced and hands planted to the ground, roll back so the ball approaches the hips, pause, and return to the plank position.


Physioball Side Plank

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core, Shoulder Stability

Stagger your feet (top leg in front of bottom leg) and place one elbow on the top of the ball, with your other hand supporting your weight. As you can tell, to make the exercise more difficult, you can bring your feet in together, and/or not use your supporting hand.


Physioball Stir the Pot

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Assume a plank position with the elbows on the top of the ball and feet shoulder-width apart. Start by making small circles – one clockwise and one counter-clockwise. Once you’re able to perform small circles without the hips dropping or rocking side to side, just increase the size of the circle you make to increase difficulty.


Physioball Stir the Pot

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Assume a plank position with the elbows on the top of the ball and feet shoulder-width apart. Start by making small circles – one clockwise and one counter-clockwise. Once you’re able to perform small circles without the hips dropping or rocking side to side, just increase the size of the circle you make to increase difficulty.


Physioball “V”

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core, Hip Flexors

Assume a plank position with the front of the ankles on the top of the ball. (The closer the ball is to the knees, the easier it gets.) Bring in both knees diagonally towards one elbow, pause, and push the feet back out to plank position.


Plank with Alternating Leg Lift

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced (feet farther apart)

Muscle Group: Core

The goal with this variation is to keep the hips as stable as possible to reduce “rocking” back and forth or any hip drop as each foot is raised.

The wider you place your feet, the harder it becomes.


Resistance Band Horizontal Twist: Anti-Hip Rotation

Difficulty: Advanced

Muscle Group: Core

Perform this first on your knees with a very light resistance band until you can noticeably rotate your shoulders 6-12 inches without moving your hips or bending your elbows.

Start with feet just outside shoulder-width, knees bent, and core braced. With both hands on the handle, start by facing your shoulders ~45 degrees to the left. Keeping your elbows locked and hips in the same position, rotate your sternum/shoulders until they’re facing ~45 degrees to the right, pause, and slowly return to the starting position.

You can perform this twist by just rotating as little as 6-12 inches in each direction.


Resistance Band Horizontal Twist: Foot pivot

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Keep knees slightly bent throughout. With this variation, both feet pivot (as if you’re swinging a bat). Pull the band across your body at shoulder level and return slowly as you pivot your feet back to starting position.


Resistance Band Horizontal Twist: No Foot Pivot

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Keep feet planted throughout the twist and ALWAYS keep your knees bent – they allow your hips to rotate and feet to stay planted at the same time. Both feet should be pointed slightly outwards. Twist away from the anchor point, allowing your knees to move along with your hips.


Resistance Band Horizontal Twist: High to Low

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Attach a band up above head level (anchor point). Grab the handle with both hands and start with both feet pointing slightly towards the anchor point. Twist diagonally downwards and pivot your feet so they’re both facing away from the anchor and your hands end right above the level of your knee. Pause and slowly reverse the movement.


Resistance Band Horizontal Twist: Low to High

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Start with both feet slightly pointed towards the anchor point and both hands on the handle. Twist diagonally upwards as you pivot your feet (like swinging a golf club) until your hands are above head level. Pause and return slowly to the starting position.


Resistance Band Horizontal Twist: With Eccentric Focus

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Core

Start with feet outside shoulder width, toes pointed towards the anchor, and knees slightly bent. Grab the handle with both hands and twist explosively across your body. Pause at the end, and take 6-10 seconds to return to the starting position, staying in control of your balance and core the entire time and not allowing your elbows to bend at any point.