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  • Writer's pictureCoach Em

9 Bodyweight Exercises for Core: Why I Make it Part of My Morning Routine

Bending down to tie your shoes. Sitting tall as you lead a Zoom meeting. Hoisting a toddler onto your hip. Loading groceries into the car.

What do these basic, everyday movements have in common?

They rely on your core muscles.

A strong core means no back pain, better posture, improved balance, and more stability when you are doing what you love.  

All athletes perform better and suffer less from injury when they have a strong core.

What is a strong core made of?

Your core (or midsection) is made up of the pelvis, low back, hips, and abdomen. 

There are 5 major muscle groups in this area that work together to spare the spine from excessive loading and transfer movement throughout the body: 

  1. Transversus Abdominis (TAs) - These are the deepest layer of abs that sit horizontally around your abdomen and support your spine.  They are your body's natural corset. Cue: Draw your belly button into your spine.

  2. Rectus Abdominis - These are your ‘6-pack’ abs that make up the front of your abdomen.  They assist with bending forward or curling up. Cue: Fold under the ribs. 

  3. Internal and External Obliques - These are your abs on either side of your torso. They help you twist and bend. Cue: Long and lifted.

  4. Multifidi - These are your deep back muscles along your spine. They are important stabilizers of the spine and assist in lateral flexion. Cue: Strong and stable low back.

  5. Erector Spinae - These muscles lie on either side of the spine and extend vertically up the length of the back.  They help maintain posture by steadying the spine on the pelvis while walking. Cue: Stacked alignment.

Why add core to your morning routine?

How you spend your morning will influence the rest of your day.  Studies show that moving in the morning leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and improved attention span.  You will also feel a sense of accomplishment which can lead to healthier choices throughout the day.  

Use these 9 Bodyweight Exercises for Core routine as an excuse to:

Increase productivity: From the moment you wake up, spend your time on something valuable and productive.

Feel in control: Control your schedule rather than your schedule controlling you.

Lower stress: Stress occurs when you feel like you lack time to complete everything you want to accomplish.

Develop healthy habits: When you have a routine, it's easier to avoid bad habits like hitting snooze.

Boost your energy: Exercising in the morning will increase your energy throughout the day.

Improve your confidence: When you start your day feeling calm and collected, you'll naturally feel more confident as well.

Set the tone for your day: Create a morning routine that promotes mental, physical, and emotional health. 

When can this fit into my life?

Try behavior stacking to implement these 9 Bodyweight Exercises for Core into your morning routine.  

First: Make a list of 5 things you automatically do when you wake up.  


1. put on slippers

2. use the bathroom

3. write in journal

4. drink lemon water

5. drink coffee 

Second: Pick one of the behaviors you are already doing and insert the 9 Bodyweight Exercises for Core Routine after that behavior. 

It works best if you reward your new Bodyweight Exercise for Core behavior.

I insert the core (behavior) BEFORE I have my morning coffee (reward). 

My Example:

1. put on slippers

2. use the bathroom

3. write in journal

4. drink lemon water

4.5. Do Bodyweight Exercises For Core

5. drink coffee 

Finally: Remember to start small and grow your practice with time. 

Start small (seriously!)L 1 set with 2-3 repetitions each (~3min).

Do a little bit each day and continue to build until you are doing 2-3 sets with 5-10 reps/side regularly. 

Let's Go!

9 Bodyweight Exercises for Core Routine:

This series of 9 exercises has a quick warm up and then moves into the Pilates ab series.  It finishes with a back extension exercise to counter the intense forward flexion. 

Most people agree that the ‘Pilates series of 5’ are some of the best ab exercises of all time. Yes, they are very challenging. No, they don’t seem to ever get any easier. 

You can always modify any exercise that feels too strenuous by not taking your legs too low and/or keeping your head down. 

As a general rule of thumb, use your abdominal muscles: to keep your upper body curled from above the shoulder blades, to stabilize your pelvis, and to move the legs away from your center. 

Do not take your legs any lower than you can control and please keep your back from coming off the mat. 

When you are ready for more challenge, you can perform #4-8 with no break, holding the upper body curl the entire time.  This is only for the most advanced.

1) Deadbug x20 repetitions, (10/side)

  • Lie on your back with your arms straight up and your legs at table top

  • Engage your core and keep low back in contact with  the floor (or towel as pictured)

  • Lower right leg and left arm away from center while keeping core engaged

  • Lift back to center

  • Lower left leg and right arm away from center while keeping core engaged

2) Glute Bridge x10

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat

  • Push through your heels and lift your pelvis

  • Squeeze your glute muscles and pull the belly button to the spine as you exhale

  • Slowly roll back down one vertebrae at a time

3) Forearm Side Plank Rotation x10, (5/side)

  • Start in a forearm plank position with arms matched in front of you

  • Rotate onto your left forearm and raise the right arm straight up while letting your feet rotate or stack

  • Rotate back to center

  • Rotate the other direction onto the right forearm and raise the left arm up while letting feet rotate or stack

  • Rotate back to center

4) Single Leg Stretch x10, (5/side)

  • Hug knees into your chest

  • Curl your head up 

  • Hold right leg with outside hand to the ankle, inside hand on the knee, extend other leg to 45 degrees

  • Exhale as you hug your knee towards the chest

  • Inhale as you switch sides

5) Double Leg Stretch x10

  • Hug knees into your chest

  • Curl your head up

  • Inhale arms and legs out to 45 degrees

  • Exhale open the arm, circle them around

  • Hug knees into chest

6) Scissors x10, (5/side)

  • Hug knees in

  • Curl head up

  • Extend legs up toward ceiling

  • Grab behind the right thigh or calf

  • As you lower left leg to 45 degrees, double pulse right leg in

  • Switch sides with a brisk pace

7) Low Lift x10

  • Hug knees in

  • Hands behind head or support low back 

  • Extend legs straight up or to 45 degrees

  • Lower legs together for 3 counts

  • Raise for 1 count

8) Criss Cross x20, (10/side)

  • From table top position, with hands behind head, curl up off the shoulder blades

  • Twist toward the right knee while the left leg extends to 45 degrees

  • Switch sides with a brisk pace

  • Twist toward the left knee while the right leg extends to 45 degrees

  • Stay up off the shoulder blades 

9) Cobra Push-ups x10

  • Lie face down and anchor hip bones to the mat

  • Bring hands to your sides and place palms flat on the ground next to your armpits

  • Keep elbows tight to the core  and pointing straight back

  • Push the upper half of your body up off the ground

  • Hold for 1 count and lower back down

If you can make these bodyweight exercises a part of your morning routine, your body and brain will thank you.  

Say goodbye to back pain and hello to mental, physical, and emotional health. 

If you like the idea of making these 9 Bodyweight Exercises for Core a part of your morning routine, and you would like some help making this fit your specific situation, let’s hop on a free 60 minute consultation. We can work together to make this your new reality.

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