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Bodyweight Core Exercises List

The Ultimate List Of Bodyweight Core Exercises

What does come to your mind when you think about “core strength”?

Most of us would think about six pack abs.

But the core is much MORE than a six pack!

Among other things, your core is responsible for spine flexion and extension, rotation, stabilization and good posture.

So, if you approach core training just by training your six pack, you’ll leave out most of the important stuff.

But don’t worry.

In this post, you’re going to find out 61 bodyweight core exercises to help you target all of these different functions of the core and develop a truly powerful midsection.

What “The Core” Really Is

Firsts things first.

What is your core?

There are many definitions out there about what constitutes your core.

Instead of creating a new definition, I’d like to take the focus off the muscles and instead place it on the movement patterns.

In short, your core is responsible for:

  • Spine flexion (ie. When your bend forward)
  • Spine extension (ie. When you bend backward)
  • Axial rotation
  • Lateral flexion (ie. When you bend to the side)
  • Stabilization (if that can be considered a movement pattern)

For complete core development, you should target all of these movement patterns.

The Benefits Of Training Your Core Directly

Why should you use exercises that focus on your core?

Aren’t bodyweight exercises targeting your core anyway?

Yes, calisthenics exercises do train your core (especially as you progress to more advanced movements) and, as you’re going to see, some of the movements below are full body exercises.

As such, you can “get away” without targeting your core directly.

However, you’re missing on some great benefits of direct core training.

Benefit #1: More Core Strength

Let’s be real.

It just common sense that if you train your core directly, your core strength is going to be a lot greater than if you trained it only indirectly.

Which, leads us to…

Benefit #2: Achieve Advanced Moves Faster

Almost all advanced calisthenics moves require a strong core.

A great example is the front lever.

Training for a front lever is going to strengthen your core, however, if you can already perform a dragon flag, you’ll be able to achieve the front lever must faster, cause you already have the necessary core strength for the movement.

Bodyweight Exercises For The Abs

In the first section of bodyweight core exercises, you’re gonna find the exercises that are focused on the abs or more formally, the rectus abdomini.

The movement pattern that will be trained is mostly spine flexion along with stabilization.

The exercises are going to be divided into 3 categories based on their difficulty level.

Depending on your training level, these exercises can be used as progressions to more advanced movements or as accessory work in interval circuits.

Beginner Bodyweight Ab Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #1: The Crunch

You can make crunches more effective by pausing briefly at the top of the movement and squeezing your core muscles as hard as you can (for a sec or two). Then come back down and repeat for reps.

I learned about this harder crunch variation in Never Gymless by Ross Enamait.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #2: The Reverse Crunch

Bodyweight Core Exercise #3: Bicycle Crunches

Bodyweight Core Exercise #4: The Sit Up

Bodyweight Core Exercise #5: The Plank

Bodyweight Core Exercise #6: Wiper Plank

Bodyweight Core Exercise #7: The One Arm One Leg plank

Bodyweight Core Exercise #8: RKC Plank (tension plank)

Bodyweight Core Exercise #9: The Hollow Body

Bodyweight Core Exercise #10: Hanging Bicycle

Bodyweight Core Exercise #11: Lying Knee Raises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #12: Scissor Crunch

Bodyweight Core Exercise #13: Sit Thru

Bodyweight Core Exercise #14: Stomach Vacuums

If you’re interested in learning more about stomach vacuums, be sure to check this article:

Bodyweight Core Exercise #15: Hanging Knee Raises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #16: Flutter Kicks

Bodyweight Core Exercise #17: Vertical Crunches

Bodyweight Core Exercise #18: Lying Leg Raises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #19: Figure 8’s

Bodyweight Core Exercise #20: Knee Wheel Roll Outs

This exercise is not for complete beginners.

You should be able to do at least 20 push ups before trying these out.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #21: V- ups

Intermediate Bodyweight Ab Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #22: Hanging Leg Raises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #23: L-sits

Bodyweight Core Exercise #24: Hanging V-Hold

Bodyweight Core Exercise #25: L-Hang to Inverted Hang

Bodyweight Core Exercise #26: Hanging Flutter kicks

Bodyweight Core Exercise #27: Inchworm

In case you don’t have an ab wheel yet, inchworm is a great alternative.

The further out you extend your arms, the harder the exercise becomes.

Advanced Bodyweight Ab Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #28: Dragon flag

Bodyweight Core Exercise #29: Hanging Leg Raises (Stall Bar)

This may seem like a regular leg raise, but in fact, it’s harder because you can’t lean back to perform the movement.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #30: One Arm Leg Raises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #31: Standing Wheel Roll Outs

You should be able to do at least 30 consecutive knee wheel roll outs before training for this variation.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #32: One Arm Wheel Roll Outs

Bodyweight Core Exercise #33: V-sit

Bodyweight Core Exercise #34: LaLanne Push us

Bodyweight Core Exercise #35: One Arm LaLanne Push Ups

Bodyweight Core Exercise #36: The Manna

Bodyweight Exercises For The Obliques

In this section, you’re gonna find the core exercises that are focused on your obliques.

The movement patterns that will be trained are axial rotation, lateral flexion, and stabilization.

The exercises are divided into 2 categories based on their difficulty level.

Beginner Bodyweight Oblique Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #37: Side Oblique Crunch

Bodyweight Core Exercise #38: Side Plank

Bodyweight Core Exercise #39: Side Plank Raises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #40: Thread The Needle

Bodyweight Core Exercise #41: Plank Wipers

Bodyweight Core Exercise #42: Russian Twist

Bodyweight Core Exercise #43: Oblique V-up

Bodyweight Core Exercise #44: Hanging Oblique Crunch

Intermediate Bodyweight Oblique Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #45: Floor Wipers

Bodyweight Core Exercise #46: Windshield Wipers

Bodyweight Core Exercise #47: Hanging Windshield Wipers

Bodyweight Core Exercise #48: Around The World

Bodyweight Exercises For The Lower Back

Here you’re going to find the bodyweight exercises that target your lower back.

The movement pattern that will be trained is spine extension along with some stabilization.

The exercises are divided into 2 categories based on their difficulty.

Beginner Bodyweight Lower Back Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #49: Donkey Kicks

Bodyweight Core Exercise #50: Bird Dog

Bodyweight Core Exercise #51: Reverse Plank

This exercise can be also done for reps.

In addition, it can be used as a shoulder stretch as well.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #52: Single Leg Deadlifts

Bodyweight Core Exercise #53: Superman Exercise

This exercise can be done for reps or hold it for time.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #54: Alternating Superman

Bodyweight Core Exercise #55: Hip Bridge

Bodyweight Core Exercise #56: Leg Extensions

Bodyweight Core Exercise #57: Bridge (Backbend)

Intermediate Bodyweight Lower Back Exercises

Bodyweight Core Exercise #58: Headstand Presses

In the beginning, use a wall for safety.

You can also put a pillow under your head so it doesn’t hurt.

Bodyweight Core Exercise #59: Bridge Walking

Bodyweight Core Exercise #60: Bridge Rotations

Bodyweight Core Exercise #61: One Arm Bridge

How To Train Your Core Effectively

After watching all of these different exercises, you might be wondering…

What exercises should I choose?

Should I do different exercises every other day or should I focus on one movement?

Well…

Here’s what you should do…

First of all, you should have 2 core workouts:

  • One to progress towards advanced moves
  • And one for core endurance

Workout A: Core Strength

For this workout, you’ll have to choose an advanced core exercise that you’d like to achieve (eg. The dragon flag).

Then you’ll choose a progression that you do at least 3×3 reps with it.

Furthermore, in Workout A you’ll train with 3-5 sets of 3-8 reps with 2-5 minutes rest intervals.

Once you’re able to perform 3×8 or 5×5 with a progression, you’re ready to move to the next one.

So, Workout A could look like this:

A1: 3x(3-8) dragon flag progression

Workout B: Core Endurance

In the second workout, you’re going to perform a circuit that targets your whole core.

So, you’ll have to choose 3 different exercises:

  • One for the abdominals
  • One for the obliques
  • And one for the lower back

A type B workout can look like this:

A1: 3x(10-20) Crunches
A2: 3x(10-20) Bicycle
A3: 3x(10-20) Alternating Supermans

Notes

  • Go from A1 to A2 to A3 without rest between the exercises. Then rest for 60-90 seconds.
  • Repeat for 3 rounds.
  • If you can complete 3×20 with an exercise with ease, you can move on to a harder one or add more reps.
  • Workout B isn’t fixed. By that I mean, that you can choose different exercises in every workout to prevent staleness and boredom.

How to Use These Workouts

You can use these workouts during the same day.

For example, you can perform Workout A as part of your regular strength training routine and at the end of your workout (or at a different time during the day) perform Workout B. (I learned this approach from Never Gymless by Ross Enamait).

Or…

You can train with them on different days.

Furthermore, it’s important that you train your core at least 3 times per week.

Lastly, don’t forget to stretch your abs frequently, especially after every type A workout.

Bonus Infographic: The Magic Of Stomach Vacuums

How to stomach vacuum

Final Thoughts

The goal of this post was to “equip” you with the necessary core exercises so you can effectively train your core in its entirety.

If you follow a “holistic” approach and train all of the basic core movement patterns, then you’ll develop a truly powerful and functional core.

On the contrary, if you focus only on one movement pattern and area (eg. Abs), then you risk developing muscle imbalances and even worse… you’ll be prone to injuries.

With that said…

What exercises are you going to add to your current workout plan?

Let me know in the comments section below.

~Nick

Photos: Push Up bars,

Infographic:  The Trusty Spotter