Being in an office all day takes its toll on our bodies. It’s true that long periods of sitting down can be detrimental to our health. It can lead to diseases like diabetes and obesity if you’re not getting up to move around every now and then.
Thankfully, if you don’t have time to sneak in a quick gym sesh after work, there are other alternatives that can get you active on your busy days. Bodyweight exercises, which can be a mix of simple and complex movements, can be done anywhere and at any time or place.
To start, let’s work on our body’s powerhouse muscles: the abs. Though ab exercises are often popular when beach season is coming up, a strong core will have multiple benefits to your posture and balance.
It also improves your stability and supports your spine to prevent injuries in the long run. And believe it or not, strengthening your core muscles (or any muscle group for that matter) doesn’t always require a gym membership or heavy equipment to do.
Want to get your fitness back on track? We’ve lined up 10 bodyweight core exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home, at work, or pretty much anywhere else you can imagine:
While this particular exercise is pretty straightforward, it’s also one of the best ways to build strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core while also working your hamstrings and glutes.
- Assume modified push-up position with your elbows below your shoulders, bent at 90 degrees, with your forearms resting on the ground (you can also adopt a traditional push-up position for a more intense exercise).
- Don’t let your hips drop to avoid arching of the back.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds without letting your torso drop.
- Once you’re comfortable, you can increase holding time to 1 or 2 minutes.
Second to sit-ups, leg raises are the most utilized abdominal exercise. They’re great because you can adjust the difficulty according to your own capabilities. To make the exercise easier, you can bend your knees slightly to lower your abdominal stress. Alternatively, if you feel like you need a more intense workout, you can keep your legs as straight as possible and point your toes.
- Lie on the ground facing upwards with legs and arms flat by your side.
- Keep your back flat on the ground as you raise both your legs until you form a 90-degree angle.
- Lower your legs back down until you’re two inches off the floor then go back to starting position.
- Repeat this movement until you reach 10 repetitions.
- Do a total of 2 sets and try to keep your movements slow and measured.
Also known as the Jackknife exercise, v-ups are similar to leg raises with the addition of a torso raise, which makes it suitable for a slightly more advanced workout. They primarily target your core and abdominal muscles, but also work your obliques and your quads.
- Lie down on the ground with toes pointed and arms straight above your head.
- As you lift your lower body, simultaneously lift your upper body off the floor.
- Keep your core engaged and aim for your fingers to meet your toes, then slowly lower yourself back down to starting position.
- Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions (add a weight or medicine ball for a more intense workout).
The only difference between regular crunches and bicycle crunches is the addition of the leg-straightening movement. This makes them more holistic because apart from targeting your abs, they also work your obliques, allowing you to achieve that oh-so desirable six-pack.
- Lie down flat on the ground making sure that your lower back is pressed to the ground.
- Put your hands behind your ears, then bring your right knee to your chest while straightening your opposite leg while simultaneously lifting your left shoulder blade off the floor to meet your right knee.
- Do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep.
- Perform this movement for 2 sets of 12 repetitions and make sure that your upper body is engaged throughout the exercise, not just your elbow.
Flutter kicks are essentially leg raises done one leg at a time. The benefits are similar, but flutter kicks tend to work on your obliques a little more. This exercise is highly recommended if you’re trying to get rid of those annoying love handles.
- Lie face up with legs extended and arms by your side.
- Keeping your legs a few inches off the floor, alternately kick your legs up and down to work on your lower abs.
- Do this movement for 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
Like the name suggests, this exercise is similar to the traditional plank, except that it targets your side abdominals. These muscles play a prominent role in averting back pain.
- Lie on your side with your lower arm bent at the elbow and directly under your shoulder.
- Keeping your body straight, hold this position for 30 seconds without letting your hips down.
- Relax, then repeat on the other side.
This exercise can be done with or without the use of weights. Of course, if you want to make it more intense, you can always increase the size of your weights but be careful not to put too much stress on your spine.
- Lie face-up on the ground with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Elevate your torso so that it creates an imaginary “V” with your thighs and extend your arms in front of you (this is your starting position).
- Twist your torso to the right side as far as you can or until your arms form a 90-degree angle with your legs.
- Return to your starting position and repeat steps on your left side to complete one rep.
- Perform this movement for two sets of 12 repetitions.
Plank jacks, like the traditional plank, are great for your core, while the jumping motion raises your heart rate, while simultaneously working on your upper and lower body.
- Begin in plank position with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your feet together.
- Like the jumping jack movement, jump using your lower body while spreading your legs apart to form a “V”.
- Jump again, bringing your legs back together to complete one rep.
- Do this exercise for 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
The superman exercise is an awesome way to work out your abs, but it also strengthens a variety of back muscles. What’s great about this particular exercise is that it works your muscles while stretching, so it’s highly recommended to save it for last.
- Lie down on your stomach with arms stretched out in front and legs extended.
- Keep your arms and legs straight while simultaneously lifting them to the ceiling to form a letter “U”.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds then lower your body back down to complete one rep.
- Do two sets of 12. (Remember to exhale as you lift your arms and legs, and inhale as you lower them back down)
Bird Dog Plank
This is a full-body exercise that targets your core while strengthening your legs, arms, and shoulders. Doing this regularly will help improve your posture and balance while preventing lower-back pain.
- Start in plank position with your forearms on the ground.
- Lift and stretch out your left arm and right leg at the same time until they are parallel to the floor.
- Hold for two seconds, then return to starting position with forearms and toes on the ground.
- Repeat this exercise on the other side to complete one rep and remember not to let your hips sink throughout the movement.
- Do this movement for 2 sets of 8 reps on each side.
Considering the fact that our core muscles play a vital role in our everyday movements, working on them should be a staple in your fitness routine. Just keep in mind that proper form is the key to a strong midsection. Keep in mind that the slower you do these routines, the less stress you’ll be putting on your back and joints.
Always listen to your body in case something doesn’t feel right and stay motivated towards your fitness goals. After all, that year-round, beach-ready bod is an awesome bonus!