10 Best Bodyweight Core Exercises for Stronger Abs

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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Bodyweight workouts are an excellent method to enhance strength, muscle endurance, coordination and balance, and core bodyweight exercises are no exception.

You will increase your stability, posture, explosiveness, agility, and speed by strengthening your core. But what are the best bodyweight exercises to strengthen your core?

As a certified fitness trainer with over eight years of experience, I will provide my expertise on the best bodyweight core exercises you can include in your routine and the benefits of performing these exercises.

Quick Summary

  • The best bodyweight core exercises include the plank, side plank, reverse crunch, side plank with crunch, squat with rotation, plank with a march, mountain climbers, bird dogs with knee-elbow touches, bicycle crunch, and plank shoulder taps.
  • Core workouts do not require much equipment. The trick is to ensure you choose the most efficient core activities and execute them correctly.
  • The core is a muscular foundation that protects the internal organs, assists movement, and offers overall balance and stability.
  • To reach the results faster, consider incorporating these workouts into your program with these best post-workout supplements for faster recovery.

The Best Bodyweight Core Exercises

A person doing core exercises with only bodyweight at a home gym


The plank is among the greatest core exercises for a strong lower and upper body since it strengthens all your muscles.

The forearm plank is a good place to start for beginners.

How to perform:

  1. Place the forearms on the ground, elbows below shoulders, and hands parallel to your torso approximately shoulder width.
  2. Have your legs extended and hip-width apart.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine. Maintain your hips up, and don't allow them to sink to the floor while you hold.
  4. Maintain a strong core and compress the feet and glutes at all times.
  5. Concentrate on maintaining everything tight for the time allocated.

Side Plank

A person doing side plank workouts at the gym

The side plank is a fantastic exercise for developing the oblique muscles underutilized in ab workouts like crunches.

How to perform:

  1. Begin on your left side on the floor, resting your left forearm on the ground and the elbow under your shoulder.
  2. Keep your shoulders and legs in a straight line by pushing up off your elbow.
  3. Your hips and just the side of the left leg, and the elbow, should be above the ground.
  4. Hold the side plank posture for the desired number of times.

"The side plank tests your balance while using your shoulder and hip muscles to maintain stability. Because it is a unilateral exercise (it exercises only one side of the torso at a time), the side plank may also assist in fixing muscular imbalances."

- Sal Nakhlawi, Certified Functional Strength Coach

Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is a tough core muscles workout primarily targeting the rectus abdominis, the abdominal muscle building up your "six-pack."

How to perform:

  1. Lie face up on a rug or other soft surface, knees bent at 90°, and the right and left leg flat on the floor before you. Keep your arms close to your sides, palms down.
  2. Exhale and tighten your abs. Lift yourself off the floor and elevate your thighs to a vertical position. Throughout the action, maintain your knees bent at 90°.
  3. Tuck your knees toward the face as far as possible without raising your mid-back off the mat. Lift the lower back and hips off the ground.
  4. Hold briefly, then slowly drop your right and left foot back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Side Plank With Crunch

A person doing Side Plank With Crunch workouts

Side Plank Crunches are core bodyweight exercises that develop your core muscles, particularly your obliques, upper back, and shoulder.

Begin by performing the modified side plank.

When you can maintain this side plank posture for 30 seconds or more, you'll know you're ready to go to the side plank with crunch and incorporate arm and leg movement.

How to perform:

  1. Begin in a side plank position having your left elbow precisely under your left shoulder, your right and left foot stacked, and your hips lifted. Engage the core.
  2.  Raise your right leg and place the right hand behind the head.
  3. Crunch the right knee to the right elbow.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Read More: Planks vs Crunches: Muscles Worked

Squat With Rotation

How to perform:

  1. Begin standing with both feet shoulder-width apart and both hands behind the head and elbows out. This is your starting position.
  2. Lower into a squat position by sending your hips back and knees bent. Maintain a high chest.
  3. To stand, press through the heels, then twist your body to the right while pulling the right leg to your left elbow.
  4. Get back to your starting position before performing another squat.
  5. Stand up and twist your body to the left, pulling your left leg near your right elbow.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Plank With March

A person doing plank with march at a public gym

This more dynamic plank form will test the core even more.

How to perform:

  1. Place your forearms on the ground, elbows below shoulders, and hands parallel to your torso at about shoulder width. You might also have your arms extended instead of your forearms.
  2. Have your feet hip-width apart.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine. Keep the hips up, and don't allow them to sink to the floor while you hold.
  4. Lift the leg off the ground, then return to the starting position; lift the right leg off the ground and return it to the starting point. Continue alternating in this manner for the allocated period.
  5. Maintain a strong core and compress your glutes and legs at all times. Concentrate on maintaining everything tight.

Mountain Climbers

How to perform:

  1. Put both hands on the floor in a regular plank position. Ensure your weight is equally distributed between the hands and toes. Arms should be shoulder-width apart and exactly beneath the holders. Your abs must be engaged, your back flat, the vertebrae neutral, and the back of the head or neck should parallel your back.
  2. Bring the left knee as close to your chest as possible. Bring the right knee to the chest as you return to the starting position.
  3. Alternate for the duration or amount of reps required.

Bird Dogs With Knee-Elbow Touches

A person doing the Bird Dogs With Knee-Elbow Touches

This workout will test your core stability, strength, and spinal alignment.

How to perform:

  1. Start on all fours with your knees and hand on the floor. Arms should be under your shoulders, and knees should be under your hips.
  2. Activate the core and extend the right arm in front of you, followed by the left leg straight back, parallel to the floor. Hold for a while before moving your right arm and left knee to the center and attempting to make contact. Slowly squeeze and move.
  3. Resume the starting position, extend the left arm before you, and straighten your right leg. Hold for a while before moving your left arm and right knee to the center and attempting to make contact. Slowly squeeze and move.
  4. Revert to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Keep alternating sides for the duration or number of reps specified.

Bicycle Crunch

How to perform:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Place both hands behind your head, tense your abs, pull your knee to the chest, and raise your shoulders off the surface while rotating the right elbow to the left knee.
  3. Touch the elbow to the knee, then return to the starting position.
  4. As you lower yourself, switch sides - left elbow to right knee.
  5. Alternate for the duration of the set repetitions or time.

Learn More: Do Crunches Reduce Belly Fat

Plank Shoulder Taps

A person doing plank shoulder taps at a home gym

Plank shoulder taps are a plank variant with an extra compound action.

How to perform:

  1. Begin in a plank posture, with wrists beneath shoulders and feet hip-width apart.
  2. Touch the right shoulder with your left hand, then return it to the starting position.
  3. Contact the left shoulder with the right hand, and return it to the starting.
  4. Continue alternating your hands until the set is completed.

"With the addition of the shoulder tap, you successfully activate the obliques while increasing the strain on the smaller muscles (stabilizers) to prevent your body from twisting excessively."

- Teddy Savage, Certified Personal Trainer

What Are the Core Muscles?

A group of people working out their core muscles

Your core is made up of 29 muscles.

They work together to keep your spine safe.

Not only does your core help you avoid injury, but it also helps you transfer force from the lower to the upper body (and vice versa) in all directions, and it provides strength and stability while bending or twisting.

The following is a comprehensive list of the core muscle groups:

  • Rectus abdominis, called "abdominal muscles" or "abs: The rectus abdominis is an abdomen muscle that connects your rib cage to the pelvis [1].
  • Internal obliques: These are found beneath the rectus abdominis and are classified as oblique. They run in the opposite direction as the external obliques. They provide for spinal flexion and stability and trunk rotation to the same side of the body [2].
  • External obliques: These muscles are found on both sides and in front of the abdomen. They help to maintain spinal stability and allow you to bend and flex your body to the side [3].
  • Transverse abdominis: This muscle is placed beneath the obliques. They are the deepest abdominal muscles that wrap around the spine for protection [4].
  • The quadratus lumborum: It is the deepest posterior core muscle, located opposite the transverse abdominis. This muscle group supports, extends, and rotates the spine [5].
  • Erector spinae: This is a large muscle group near the rear of your core. It extends from your neck to the lower part of your back [6]. You use your erector spinae whenever you bend or twist.
  • Hip flexors: A set of muscles in front of your pelvis and upper thigh. They encompass the psoas, rectus femoris, sartorius, and pectineus muscles. Your hip flexors elevate your knee and move it closer to your torso, which is called flexion, thus the term flexors [7].
  • Other core muscles include the multifidus (placed behind the erector spinae along the spinal column), the pelvic floor muscles, hip adductors and abductors, and the glutes.

Learn More: Best At-Home Core Workout

Benefits of Core Bodyweight Exercises

A person working out his core at a home gym

The following are the key advantages of core strength training:

  • Aids in the prevention of injuries. Core training is not only beneficial for minimizing the chance of spinal injuries, but it is also helpful for the other joints in the body since inadequate core strength leads to poor balance, which leads to strain on the knees, ankles, and hips.
  • Helps create optimum weight distribution and the absorption and transmission of forces.
  • It enhances athletic performance. Core bodyweight exercises improve strength, explosiveness, power, balance, speed, coordination, and agility. After all, your core transfers energy and power to and from your arms and legs.
  • Increases your rotational and anti-rotational strength. Because rotational force is generated by your core, when you twist, spin, swing, accelerate, slow down, and move in various directions, you will do it with force if you possess a strong core. Furthermore, you can accomplish these activities safely because you have anti-rotation power, which helps you avoid injuries, stand strong, and maintain balance. Rotational and anti-rotational power go hand in hand.
  • Improves posture when the body is both stationary and moving.
  • A stronger core contributes to a stronger military press, squat, bench press, deadlift, etc. Core training can help you gain muscle in other body parts and break past plateaus in your major lifts.
  • Core stability exercises are an excellent technique to alleviate persistent low back pain.


Are Bodyweight Core Exercises Effective?

Yes, bodyweight core exercises are effective. Bodyweight ab exercises increase core stability, strength, posture, and athletic performance.

Can You Strengthen Your Core Without Weights?

Yes, you can strengthen your core without weights. You can perform exercises such as crunches, bird dogs, back extensions, front and side planks, and skydivers that enhance and build your core muscles.

Is It OK To Train Core Everyday?

No. It's not OK to train your core every day. Your abs, like any other muscle, require rest. They have to recuperate and rebuild stronger than before.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/rectus-abdominis-muscle
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2935630/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10409811/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2140344/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535407/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537074/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9118976/
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