Core (on the Floor)

A flat stomach, often a #1 goal for many people.  How to get a flat stomach? Cardio + Core!! For core routine, the usual go-to thought is work the abs.  True, the abs are important. But, the abs only compromise a very small portion of what is considered our overall core.  To get max core stabilization effort, we need to work the superficial AND deep trunk musculature, as well as involve our glutes!  (Notice how those glutes cycle back around to EVERYTHING?) I know the “6-pack” is the most noted physique attribute of having a toned core, but it will be impossible to get the 6 pack without working the rest of the core!  Besides, working the full core makes for a happy back. Happy back means happy life, #amiright?

Circuit 1 

(immediately transition between moves)

Plank hold hands

Hold 30 seconds

Plank hold forearm

Hold 30 seconds

Knee taps alternating


Alternate taps for 30 seconds

Knee double taps

Tap both knees 30 seconds

Plank hold forearm

Hold 30 seconds

Plank hold hand

Hold 30 seconds

Circuit 2:

Table top alternating toe tap


Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and alternate toe taps for 30 seconds

Table top double toe tap


Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and slowly tap both toes down & return for 30 seconds

Double leg extend alternating LE lower

Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and alternate leg drop, keeping knees straight for 30 seconds

Double leg extend bilateral LE lower

Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and drop both legs down together.  Only go as low as you can while keeping back flat.  Perform for 30 seconds

Double leg swerves

Keep low back flush against floor (use hands under sacrum if needed) and perform a half circle down and up towards the left, return to the top, perform to the right.  Perform for 45 seconds

Repeat Circuit 2

Circuit 3:

Double leg bridge

Keep core engaged and squeeze gluts to lift.  Perform for 60 seconds

Single leg bridge

Keep core engaged and pelvis level.  Perform on each leg for 15 seconds

Birddog with crunch


Hold birddog position, keeping back flat and pelvis level.  Crunch knee to opposite elbow.  Alternate position for 60 seconds

Side plank

Hold each side 30 seconds

Top 5 Swissball Exercises

Ah, the swissball.  We see them at the gym, but what the hell do we do with them?  They are in essence, an excellent tool for core and stability work.  The lack of stability they provide makes the core turn on even more and makes all your other muscles work harder to accomplish the exercise.  There are SO many things you can do with a swiss/stability ball, this list is obviously non-exhaustive.

A stability, or swissball, can easily be incorporated into your workout at the gym or at home.  Any time you do a movement in which the ground or a chair is used to support bodyweight, sub out a stability ball!  To do this safely, keep in mind that the sub-out part of the stability ball should be used for a secondary support.  This means that basically, if the exercise is stepping up onto a chair (if at home), or aerobic step (if at the gym), the ball clearly wouldn’t work here, so please don’t try to step on a ball, unless you are a professional.

My current Top 5 Stability ball exercises are:

  1. Pike crunch


This is one of my FAVORITE core and arm exercises.  Make sure you keep your core rock hard.  Use your midsection to pull yourself into a pike position, hold for a second, and return to a plank position.  Repeat 8-12 times!

      2. Split squat ball


Holy stability!  This is no easy exercise.  The prop of one leg on the ball really challenges your balance and core stability.  If you can’t maintain good form and control, be sure to use assistance for your balance.  Repeat each side 8-12 times!

      3. Shoulder bridge burner with UE movement 


If you want to feel your glutes & hamstrings burn, baby, burn – this is the exercise for you.  Try to keep your core and hips perfectly straight and level, core engaged, and extra squeeze at the booty!  Keep this position while you perform upper body exercise (you can also get just as good of a burn by focusing on lower body!)  Pictured here, I’m performing overhead chops for core, lats and triceps. 

      4. Walk out with pushup

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Push ups are probably on my list of least liked exercises, but they are such a good exercise because they target core AND arms.  Add the stability ball to ramp up the core engagement.  Keep core tight and do not let your lower back “sag.”  8-12 reps!

      5. Bridge + HS curl

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If there is any exercise to guaranteed burn out the hamstrings on this list, this is the one.  Pro Tip: keep the booty elevated to maximize the work of the posterior chain, aka the backside of your body.  8-12 reps!


Firm on Form: KNEES

With upcoming lists of good lower body exercise, lets talk about injury prevention, good form and not wearing out your joint.  I often observe people in exercise class that are performing squats/lunges/jumps/etc/etc and are using “grimace-face” making form.  The Featured Image exhibits good form (for reference). 

The “No-No” short list:

  1. Letting the knee fall inside of big toe
  2. Knee cap going beyond your toes
  3. Landing stiff (not bending the knee as you land)

Point One: If your knee caps start to “collapse” towards the inside of your big toe, that is NOT good for your knee (and hip). The knee caps should be pointing straight ahead and essentially, along the line of your 2nd toe.  If you consistently squat with your knees falling (caving) in, this can lead to general knee pain, increase strain on your ACL, or even contribute to ITB syndrome.  

Note in this photo how the knee caps are falling “in.”  If a line went from the middle of the knee cap and straight down, it would fall to the inside of the foot – not good.

Point two: the knee should also not go beyond your toes (there is big debate about this in the fitness world, because, to do a full squat or pistol squat this has to happen).  If you do not have a goal to win a cross fit, weightlifting or physique competition, do NOT let your knee go beyond your toes.  If the knee cap travels beyond your toes, it can increase compression of your knee cap against your thigh bone, and can contribute to pain in the front of your knee.  A typical squat alone can cause up to FIVE x your body weight through your knee joints!!  Imagine if you are using bad form, that increase in force could be even more!  My usual suggestion is to be mindful to keep your weight shifted into your heels.  Can you lift your toes while in squat or lunge position?  Yes? You are doing it right.  

GOOD form example: note that the knee is behind the toe of the forward leg

Point three: lets talk landing.  When you jump, how do you land?  If you land stiff and your feet make a sound like you are popping balloons, you are landing incorrect.  The key is to ABSORB the landing, land soft, land on the balls of your feet.  Any of those thoughts will help you land correctly.  Just even thinking this will mentally help you bend the knees with the landing to absorb the impact of the force of the land. This places so much less stress through pretty much your entire low body from your back all the way down to your feet.  I will limit the orthopedic implications of landing stiff, but keep in mind that landing can cause up to NINE x your body weight in added compressive force through your joints.  This doesn’t even include a discussion on the shear forces that can occur within the knees and this has implications to ligament health.