Core workouts at home: woman doing bicycle crunchesCore workouts at home: woman doing bicycle crunches
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Kickoff's certified personal trainers and registered dietitians share detailed analysis, discussion, and how-tos about the questions we get most often

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How to Do Core Workouts at Home: 2 Routines, 0 Equipment

A strong core is the foundation of a strong everything. So, doing good core workouts at home is about so much more than just getting those six pack abs. 

This is about having better posture so you don’t injure yourself sitting at your desk all day. It’s about preventing back pain so you can take that four-hour flight to see your BFF, parents, or kids. It’s about being able to take that big swing in golf, carry that heavy backpack when you hike, and have a dance party in your living room at midnight. And most importantly, it’s about Y-O-U.

When you do core workouts at home, you can build core strength that matches your inner strength. To get you started, we’ve put together two sets of bodyweight ab exercises that you can do at home any time. You don’t need any equipment (no dumbbells, no resistance bands, nada!), so there are NO excuses — get started now!

Do These 2 Core Workouts at Home for Stronger Abs

We’ve got one home workout with traditional floor exercises for your abs and a second workout with standing exercises. To get the most benefits for your core workouts at home, switch it up! A little variety will not only spice up your life — it will also strengthen your midsection faster.

Do your best to incorporate at least one of these workouts once a week. If you have time to do it twice a week, congrats! You’re officially meeting the CDC’s recommendation of two strength training workouts per week.

Throw in a couple endurance training workouts, and you’ll be exercising the ideal number of days per week. But to get to that ideal, we’ve all got to start somewhere. So, start with one of these workout routines.

For each routine, we've included five exercises that will work those abs. Do 3-5 sets of the five exercises to get in a short but effective 20-minute workout.

Workout 1: Classic Core Workout

Core workouts at home: person working out with a walrus GIF

This ab workout contains all the classic poses. If you’ve ever attended a bootcamp or even a P.E. class, these five poses will be familiar to you. Simple, yet effective — there’s a reason the classics never go out of style. 

Just thinking about this workout routine makes us feel like soon-to-be Audrey Hepburns and Cary Grants.

1. Bicycle Crunches

Core workouts at home: man doing bicycle crunches GIF

Muscle groups: the rectus abdominis (aka the upper abs or six-pack ab area)

Reps: 15-20

Steps:

  • Lie down with your back flat on the floor.

  • Do not arch your lower back. (This will cause back pain.)

  • Bring your knees up so that they form a 90-degree angle with your calves parallel to the floor.

  • Tighten your core muscles pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

  • Lift your shoulders off the mat, and put your hands behind your head.

  • You’re now in your starting position.

  • Straighten your left leg while bringing your right knee in towards your chest.

  • Simultaneously bring your left elbow over to meet your right knee so that you’re in a slight twist.

  • Return to your starting position, and repeat the move on the opposite side, bringing your right elbow to your left knee as you straighten your right leg.

  • That’s one rep.

2. Reverse Crunches

Core workouts at home: man doing reverse crunches GIF

Muscle groups: the rectus abdominis

Reps: 10-15

Steps:

  • Lie down with your back flat on the floor. Don’t arch your lower back.

  • Place your arms flat on the floor by your side.

  • Lift your legs straight up so that your hips are at a 90-degree angle with your feet pointed up toward the ceiling.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Keep your upper body flat on the ground as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your legs straight (or with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle if you're a beginner) and reaching your feet toward the wall behind you.

  • Lower your hips back down to return to your starting position.

  • That’s one rep.

3. Russian Twists

Core workouts at home: woman doing russian twists GIF

Muscle groups: the obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis (aka your lower ab muscles that sit below several other layers of core muscles), hip flexors, lower back, and upper back

Reps: 10-15

Steps:

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

  • Tighten your core and lean back, bringing your feet up off the ground so that your body forms the letter “V” from the top of your head, down to your hips, and up to the top of your knees.

  • Only your sit bones should be in contact with the floor.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Twist your body over toward the left side so that both your left and right arm are on the outside of your left knee.

  • Now twist to the opposite side, bringing your right and left arm to the outside of your right knee.

  • Return to your starting position.

  • That’s one rep.

4. V-Ups

Core workouts at home: man doing v-ups GIF

Muscle groups: the obliques and rectus abdominis

Reps: 10-15

Steps:

  • Lie flat on the ground with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart.

  • Don’t arch your back.

  • Bring your arms above your head, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • Tighten your core muscles, pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Simultaneously raise your legs and upper body off the ground, keeping your abs tight and your arms in line with the rest of your upper body.

  • At the top of this movement, your body forms a v-shape.

  • Return to your starting position.

  • That’s one rep.

5. Scissor Kicks

Core workouts at home: woman doing scissor kicks GIF

Muscle groups: the transverse abdominis, hip flexors, hip abductors, glutes, and quads

Reps: 15-20

Steps:

  • Lie flat on the ground with your legs hip-width apart.

  • Keep your lower back flat against the floor.

  • Bring your arms up over your head, flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart.

  • Lift both your feet off the ground by a few inches.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Lift your left leg and right arm, keeping your hips and torso flat on the floor.

  • Reach your right hand toward your left foot, then lower them back down and repeat the movement on the opposite side.

  • That’s one rep.

Workout 2: Standing Core Workout

Sean from Friends from College moving his belly GIF

On the days when you’re looking at your floor, thinking about the dog hair you haven’t vacuumed up in over a week, lying down and doing core workouts at home seems a little — well — icky. Instead, try this standing core exercise routine. You can do all of these core workouts at home without having to get down to floor level. Vacuuming can wait! 

Do 3-5 sets in each workout to start seeing improvements in your core strength (if not your carpets).

1. Standing Bicycle Crunch

Mother doing some standing bicycle crunches with her baby

Muscle groups: the obliques and rectus abdominis

Reps: 15-20

Steps:

  • Start in a standing position with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.

  • Relax your shoulder blades by rolling them back and down.

  • Bring your hands up behind your head, elbows pointing out to the sides.

  • Pull your belly button in toward your spine to activate your core muscles.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Shift your weight to your left foot.

  • Raise your right knee up and bring your left elbow down, trying to touch them together.

  • Return to your starting position, and repeat this move on the opposite side.

  • Return to your starting position once more.

  • That’s one rep.

2. Sumo Squat Side Bend

Woman doing sumo squats

Muscle groups: the obliques, hip flexors, hip abductors, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves

Reps: 10-15

Steps:

  • Stand with your feet about twice as wide as your shoulder width.

  • Bring your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out to the sides.

  • Turn your feet out at a 45 degree angle.

  • Tighten your core muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

  • Bend at the knees, keeping your upper body straight until you’re in a wide squat with your knees at an angle that’s slightly larger than 90 degrees.

  • This is your starting position. You will hold this squat for the duration of the exercise.

  • Bend at your side body, bringing your left elbow down toward your left knee.

  • Return to center and switch sides.

  • That’s one rep.

3. Standing Bird Dog

Woman doing the standing bird dog starting position

Muscle groups: The rectus abdominis, lower back, and glutes

Reps: 10

Steps:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

  • Contract your core muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

  • Raise your left arm up toward the sky.

  • Shift your weight to your left leg.

  • Lift your right leg off the ground behind you by about one inch.

  • Hinge at the waist, until your body forms a straight line from your left hand all the way down to your right foot.

  • Aside from your standing leg, your body should be parallel to the floor.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Simultaneously bring your right knee and your left elbow in toward the center of your body, like you’re trying to touch your knee to your elbow.

  • Return to your starting position.

  • That’s one rep.

  • Repeat this exercise 10 times on this side. Then, switch sides and do 10 more reps with your right leg on the ground, and your left leg lifted.

4. Pelvic Tilts

Woman doing pelvic tilts

Muscle groups: The transverse abdominis and lower back

Reps: 10-15

Steps:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and your hands resting comfortably on your hips.

  • Tighten your core muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

  • This is your starting position.

  • Slowly tilt your pelvis forward and then backward while keeping your upper body still.

  • That’s one rep.

5. Standing Cardio Mountain Climbers

Woman doing some standing mountain climbers

Muscle groups: The obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, upper body, quads, and hamstrings

Reps: 20-30

Steps:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

  • Tighten your core muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

  • This is your starting position.

  • With your right hand, reach up above your head and out in front of your body by about 18 inches while simultaneously bringing your left knee up toward your stomach.

  • Switch sides by jumping to the same pose on the opposite side.

  • That’s one rep. Continue to hop between sides for the rest of your reps, bringing your heart rate up in the process.

Your Core Fitness Strategy

Jeff from Survivor talking GIF

Now that you’ve tried your first core workouts at home, you’re ready to take the next step on your fitness journey. Share these workouts with a friend to find yourself an accountability partner. Or sign up with an online personal trainer to get all the fitness motivation you need.

A Kickoff personal trainer will check in regularly, keep you on track, and send you new workouts and nutrition advice. And they’ll do all this for just $3 per day. That’s less than your favorite latte (and it’s way better for your abs!).

Sign up for a consultation today!