A Strength Workout to Work the Core in Unconventional Ways

Lately I haven’t had as much fun in strength workouts that only have me doing squats, push-ups and pull-ups (and yes, I know the fit test is exactly that, but there’s rhyme behind that reason). Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to any kind of workout, but I’ve wanted to incorporate a few more complex movements into the regular mix to give my brain more exercise while I’m at it.

In this 30-minute workout, some moves are simple and others are a slightly different variation than what we typically take in group fitness classes. You can always give them a try and decide for yourself if you’re into the new variation or not.

Today’s workout looks like this:

It will focus on strength from the core. Don’t worry, it’s not just 30 minutes of abs (although, that will come later on in the month).

You’ll do eight different exercises, each for 60 seconds, then for 45 seconds, then for 30 seconds. For the moves that have a right side and a left side (like the reverse lunge and twist), do 60 seconds on each leg, then :45 on each leg, then :30. Rest after you complete one full round (all eight moves) for no more than 60 seconds.

These are the eight exercises:

  • Squat and reach
  • Reverse lunge and twist
  • Woodchopper
  • Curtsy lunge
  • Triangle press
  • Straight leg bicycle + extra twist
  • Figure-4 crunches
  • Squat jack with twist

Here’s what it looks like:

Squat and reach: Start with your feet in a neutral stance. Squat down, keeping your chest lifted. When you stand back up, rotate your hips slightly right and stretch through the ball of your left foot, reaching up and across with your left arm. Return back to your squat, then stand up and twist the opposite way.
asweatlife_strengthcore_squatreach1 asweatlife_strengthcore_squatreach2 asweatlife_strengthcore_squatreach3

Reverse lunge and twist: Hold your weights to your chest and lunge your right leg back to a 90-degree bend. From the bottom of your lunge, twist your upper body left, turning your shoulders, but keeping your hips square. Untwist, but stay in your lunge if you can. Remember, you’ll do both sides. asweatlife_strengthcore_lunge1 asweatlife_strengthcore_lunge2

Woodchopper: Holding one weight on either end, twist your body towards your right leg, bending your right knee a lot and your left knee enough to let your body twist. As you exhale, swing the weight across your body and over your left shoulder, allowing your elbows to bend. Return back to your squat on the right and repeat the motion for 30 seconds on one side, then switch to the left side for the next 30 seconds.
asweatlife_strengthcore_woodchopper1 asweatlife_strengthcore_woodchopper2

Curtsy lunge: Begin as you would in a regular reverse lunge with one foot forward and the other behind. Take your back leg further back and over the midline of your body so it crosses behind your front leg (on a diagonal behind you). Be sure to keep your hips square, knees tracking over toes and shoulders as square as possible. If it hurts your knees, do a reverse lunge instead. Remember, you’ll do both sides.
asweatlife_strengthcore_curtsy1 asweatlife_strengthcore_curtsy2

Triangle press: Start in a wide stance with your right toes facing forward and your left toes turned out. Take one weight overhead, then send your hips to the right as you hinge your chest out and over your left leg. Maintain a pelvic tilt, shoulders stacked and the weight straight over the supporting shoulder, looking at the weight the whole time. Exhale as you stand all the way back up. Hinge down and up for 60 seconds on the right, then switch to the left for the next 60 seconds.
asweatlife_strengthcore_trianglepress1 asweatlife_strengthcore_trianglepress2 asweatlife_strengthcore_trianglepress3

Straight leg bicycle with an extra twist: Lie on your back and extend your right leg up and your left leg out. Place your hands behind your head. Keeping your elbows out wide, exhale, lift your shoulders up and twist your left elbow towards your right leg. Keep your shoulders up the whole time and switch to your left leg up, right elbow across. For an added twist, once you’re twisted your upper body over, then cross your legs further in a twisting direction. Untwist, switch sides and retwist again.
asweatlife_strengthcore_bicycleextracrunch1 asweatlife_strengthcore_bicycleextracrunch2

Optional added twist if your low back supports it.

Figure-4 crunches: Place your right ankle over your left thigh, opening through your right hip. Crunch up and across with your left hand behind your head and right hand out on the floor beside you. Remember, you’ll do both sides.
asweatlife_strengthcore_figure4crunch1 asweatlife_strengthcore_figure4crunch2

Squat jack with twist: Start in a neutral stance. Drop to a squat with your weight in your heels and simultaneously place your left hand down and twist your right arm up. Hop back up to your neutral stance, then drop into a squat the opposite direction. Try to keep your hips square and just twist from your bellybutton upwards.
asweatlife_strengthcore_squatjacktwist asweatlife_strengthcore_squatjacktwist2

(Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician.)

Move Workouts

About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.