Exercises and Training Plans

Core Stability Exercises

Here are a few suggested core stability exercises.  If you experience pain during any of these exercises please see your doctor or a qualified physiotherapist to help you further.  There may be an underlying injury that requires attention.

PLEASE NOTE – The following exercises are only offered as a suggestion.  There are many more core stability exercises and everyone has their favourites.  The NHS website offer their suggestions and local club coaches also offer their own suggestions as well.

The plank – hold for 10 seconds.  Rest and repeat 5 times.  You can build on this exercise and try up to 30 seconds for each hold by adding one or two seconds every other day until you reach 30 seconds.  This exercise helps to strengthen stomach and buttock muscles and helps prevent back pain caused by running.

The Squat – align your knees with your shoulders as you squat.  Try to make sure you can still see your toes.  Try to get your hips as low as your knees and hold for 10 seconds to begin with.  Rest and repeat 5 times.  Build up to 30 seconds.

The bridge – try to tuck in your buttocks and tighten your stomach muscles for this one.  It looks simple but it’s just as tough as the other core exercises.  Hold your hips up for 10 seconds to begin with.  Rest and repeat 5 times.   Build up to holding your hips up for 30 seconds.  

The Clam – similar to the bridge, try to tuck in your buttocks and tighten your stomach muscles for this exercise.  Lift the knee that isn’t on the floor and hold for 5 seconds.  Rest and repeat 5 times.  Repeat for your other knee.

 Abduction side (side lying lift) – Similar to the bridge and the clam, try to tuck in your buttocks and tighten your stomach muscles for this exercise.  The leg on the floor can be bent to offer stability whilst performing this exercise.  Lift the leg that is not on the floor and hold for 5 seconds – the lift does not need to be high to begin with.  Rest and repeat 5 times.  Repeat for your other leg.

 Ankle pumps – Rotate your foot clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Repeat this 10 times for each foot.

Here are some tougher exercises.  I’ve not tried most but I’m working through the list.

  1. Calf Raise: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Rise up on the toes. Hold for 2 seconds and return to start position. Progression: Single leg calf raise.
  2. Wall Sit: Stand with back against a wall with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Slide down the wall to the level of sitting in a chair. Hold the sit position for a set amount of time. Make sure the knees do not come inward; they should be aligned with the feet and hips. Start by trying to hold the sit for 15-30 seconds. Progression: Add time
  3. Lunge: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Step forward and lower the body until the knee is an inch from the floor. Front and back leg will be bent at 90 degrees. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg.Progression: Add weight with dumbbells.
  4. Lunge with Rotation: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Step forward and lower the body until the knee is an inch from the floor. As you step forward rotate the upper body 90 degrees toward the back leg. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg. Progression: Hold a weight with arms fully extended in front of you.  
  5. Straight Leg Lunge: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Step forward and transfer body weight to the front leg. Bend front knee and torso so that chest and knee are over the toe. Keep the back leg straight. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg.Progression: Add weight with dumbbells.
  6. Lateral Lunge: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Step to the side and transfer body weight to the lead leg. Bend knee and torso so that body weight is over the lead leg. Keep knees and feet pointing forward and plant leg straight. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg. Progression: Add weight with dumbbells.
  7. Straight Leg Multi-planar Lunge: (Similar to Gary Gray’s Matrix). This is a straight leg lunge sequence in a star pattern – forward, front diagonal, side, back diagonal. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Perform a straight leg lunge (see exercise #5) on the right leg followed by the left leg. Next step out diagonally to the right. Left leg and toes remains straight and while right leg turn diagonally with toes pointing diagonally Return to start position and repeat on left leg. Next step to the side with the right leg. Left leg stays pointing straight and right leg turns 90 degrees. Return to start and repeat to the left. Now turn back diagonally. Try to keep the left leg straight.  Transfer body weight to the lead leg and press back to starting position. Repeat on left leg. Go through the sequence (Right forward, left forward, right diagonal, left diagonal, right lateral, left lateral, right back diagonal, left back diagonal) 5 times. Progression: Add weight with dumbbells.
  8. Drop Lunge: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Bring the left leg back and across the opposite leg. Try to reach as far back and as wide as possible as you drop into a deep lunge. The left knee should almost touch the ground. Press with the right leg to return to the starting position. Progression: Perform using a barbell.
  9. Pistol Squat: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Hold arms straight out in front of the body, and raise the right leg. Lower the body while keeping the right leg and arms in front of the body. Drop to a level of chair height, then return to standing. For first timers, perform next to an object for safety and stability from falling. Progression: Perform on an unstable surface or with eyes closed.
  10. Single Leg RDL: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Lift one leg a few inches off of the floor. Bend at the hips until hands come to ankle or floor level. Squeeze the glutes to straighten the hips. Repeat for a full set and perform on opposite leg. . Progression:Perform with dumbbells or barbell.
  11. Single Leg Balance and Reach: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Lift one leg a few inches off of the floor. Take the up leg and reach in 5 directions – forward, diagonal, side, back diagonal and backward. Repeat for 30 seconds and switch legs to perform on other side. Progression: Perform on an unstable surface or with eyes closed.
  12. Floor Bridge: Lie on your back with the knees bent 90 degrees and feet shoulder width apart. Place arms at your side. Tighten the abdominal muscles and use your glutes to push through your heels so that the butt and back come off the floor. Progression: Perform on an unstable surface, such as a swiss ball, or elevated surface such as a bench.
  13. Floor Bridge with March: Follow the steps to the floor bridge above. At top of bridge lift the right leg 12 inches off the floor. Bring the right leg back to the floor and while remaining in the bridge position bring the left leg off the floor. Return to starting position by lowering the butt and back to the floor. Be sure to keep hips level while marching. Progression: Perform on an unstable surface, such as a swiss ball, or elevated surface such as a bench.
  14. Single Leg Bridge: Begin in same position as Floor Bridge. Before lifting off the ground, lift the right leg 6-12 inches off of the ground. Then squeeze the left glute and tighten the core as you press through the heels lifting the butt and back off of the floor. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for about 10 reps and switch legs. Progression: Perform on an unstable surface, such as a swiss ball, or elevated surface such as a bench.
  15. Skier Squat: Stand on one leg and place opposite leg up an object at waist height. Lean forward at the waist. Try to make a “T” with the body by having up leg and torso parallel to the floor. Place hands behind the back. Bend down leg at the knee while keeping upper body parallel to the floor. Lower until the chest comes to knee. Squeeze glutes to return to start position. Repeat 6-15 reps and then on opposite leg. Progression: Perform on an unstable surface or hold a dumbbell.
  16. Push-up: I hope I don’t have to explain a push-up. Key is to keep abdominals tight, glutes engaged to prevent hips from raising or sinking during the motion. Progression: See next few exercises.
  17. Push-up with Rotation: After returning to up position of a standard push-up, rotate the body on to the right arm and extend the left arm overhead. Your body should be in a “T” position and be facing to the right. Return to the starting position, do a normal push-up, then rotate to the left. Do 5-10 reps per side. Progression: Add a leg lift.
  18. Diamond Push-Up: Place hands close together on the floor. Thumb touching thumb, index finger touching index finger. Perform a normal push-up with hands in this position to target the triceps.  Progression: Try to lower place your nose in the diamond between your hands.
  19. Plyometric Push-up: A progression of the normal push-up this exercise is an explosive push-up motion where the upper body leaves the floor. Progression:Perform a clap while in air or do plyo jump your hands on to a step.
  20. Spider-Man Push-up: Begin in normal push-up position. As you lower to the ground bring the left knee to the left elbow. Return left leg as you press up. Repeat with the right knee to elbow on the next down phase. Progression:Perform on an unstable surface, such as a Bosu ball.
  21. Cobra: Lie face down on the floor. Have palms facing down with the hands a few inches out to the side of your hips. Engage the core and glutes and raise the upper / lower body off the floor. Hold the up position for 3-5 seconds before returning to the floor. Repeat for 8-15 reps.Progression: Add leg flutters during the up phase.
  22. Superman Flutters: Same start position as the cobra, but this time arms are overhead.  Keeping core and glutes engaged raise the arms and legs off ground. Hold the up position for 3-5 seconds before returning to the floor. Repeat for 8-15 reps. Progression: Add leg / arm flutters during the up phase.
  23. Swimmers: Same start position as the superman. Keeping core and glutes engaged raise the arms and chin off the ground a few inches. While keeping arms off of the ground slide the right arm toward your right hip, take the right arm in a swimming motion and reach overhead while simultaneously lowering the left arm toward the left hip. Mimic the upper body freestyle swim pattern for 15-30 seconds. Avoid letting the arms touch the ground. Same start position as the cobra, but this time arms are overhead.  Progression: Raise the legs off the ground too.
  24. Y, T, and A’s: Lie down on your stomach, like you would for the superman exercise. Turn hands so palms face in. Raise arms slightly off the floor in to a “Y” pattern. Hold for 2 seconds. Move arms to a “T” pattern, hold for 2 seconds. Move arms to an “A” position and hold. Repeat movement for 5-20 reps. Progression: Perform with a 1 or 2 pound dumbbell.
  25. Crunch: I shouldn’t have to explain, but too many of my clients cheat on this movement. With hands behind the head, slowly raise the head, shoulders and upper back off the ground, much like peeling an orange. Hold up position for 2 seconds and lower slowly. Progression: Perform exercises below.
  26. Russian Twist: Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet together. Lift feet a few inches off the floor. Move the both arms from one side to another in a twisting motion. Progression: Perform while holding a medicine ball and touch the med ball to the floor on each rotation.
  27. Oblique Crunch: Begin a traditional crunch start position. Raise arms over head toward the ceiling. Slowly raise the head, shoulders and upper back off the ground while simultaneously rotating to the left. Hold up position for 2 seconds and return to start. Repeat motion, while turning to the right. Progression: Perform on a stability ball.
  28. Leg Lift: Lie flat on your back with arms at your side. Engage the core and raise the legs 6-12 inches off the ground. Attempt to prevent the low back from arching off the floor. Hold up position for 10-30 seconds and repeat for 3-8 reps. Progression: Perform mini leg flutters while legs are raised.
  29. Reverse Crunch: Lie flat on your back, with arms overhead and holding on to a stable object such as the bottom of a door or heavy furniture. Bring your knees and feet up so that feet are toward the ceiling. Slowly peel the butt, and lower back off the ground while reaching the feet toward the ceiling. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly return to the start position. Progression:Perform with hands at your side.
  30. Prone Iso-ab (plank): Lie face down on the floor with legs extended and elbows placed under your shoulders. Engage the core and glutes while raising the torso and pelvis off the floor. Your shoulders, hips and knees should be in alignment. The hips should not sink or rise. Hold the up position for 15-60 seconds.  Progression: Perform exercises below.
  31. Prone Iso-ab w/ leg lift: Perform the exercise above. While in the up position take one leg and raise about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for two seconds and repeat with the left leg. The hips should not sink or rise during the movement. Hold the up position for 15-60 seconds.
  32. Side Iso-Ab: Begin side lying and place the elbow under your shoulder. Engage the core and glutes while raising the hips and torso off the ground. Only the elbow and feet should be on the floor. Hold the up position for 15-60 seconds. Repeat on other side.  Progression: Perform exercises below.
  33. Side Iso-Ab w/ leg lift: Perform exercise above, but while in the up position, take the top leg and left upward about 1-2 feet. Repeat the leg lift for the duration of the hold.
  34. Supine Heel Push: Lie flat on your back with arms crossed over the chest and legs extended. Engage the core and squeeze the glutes. Press your heels in to the floor and raise the torso and butt off the ground. Only the upper back, head and heels should be on the floor. Hold the up position for 15-60 seconds. Progression: If you can do this for 60 seconds, you have a strong core.
  35. Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg:Begin on all fours, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage the core and tighten the glutes while you extend the right arm and simultaneously extend the left leg. Return right and arm left leg to start position and repeat with left arm and right leg. Hold the extended position for 2-seconds. Perform the exercise for 15-30 reps.
  36. Dead Bugs: Opposite of the quadruped begin by lying flat on the floor with arms extended toward the ceiling. Knees should be up with hips bent at 90 degrees. Engage the core and the glutes while reaching the right arm overhead and extending the left leg. Return right and arm left leg to start position and repeat with left arm and right leg. Hold the extended position for 2-seconds. Perform the exercise for 15-30 reps.
  37. Hip Abduction: Begin in a side lying position. Engage the core and raise the top leg to approximately 45 degrees. Repeat for 12-25 reps. Repeat on opposite side. Progression:Perform exercise with the upper body on an unstable surface such as a Bosu ball.
  38. Fire Hydrants: Begin on all fours, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage the core and tighten the glutes. Take the right leg and raise 90 degrees to the side. Like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. While keeping the leg raised to the side repeatedly bring the right knee to the right shoulder and extend straight back. Repeat movement for 15-60 seconds and repeat exercise with left side.
  39. Bear Crawl: Starting on hands and knees, engage the core and rise up onto the toes. Reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left arm and leg side. Continue the bear crawl for 15-30 seconds. 
  40. Mountain Climber: Starting in a push-up position, bring the left knee foot forward directly under the chest. Keep the core engage and glutes tight. Quickly switch leg positions – right leg forward and left leg extended.  Perform for 15-30 seconds as quickly and safely as possible.
  41. Burpees: Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor and in front of you. Kick both feet back so that you are in a push-up position. Perform one push-up, and then jump back to the starting position. From there jump up as high as possible while reaching toward the ceiling. Return to starting position. And repeat movement as quickly as possible for 8-25 reps.
  42. Squat Jumps: Begin in a low squat position. Explode in to a vertical jump using your arms to throw you high. Repeat movement as fast as tolerable for 8-15 reps. Progression: Perform the tuck jump exercise.
  43. Tuck Jumps: much like the squat jump, but while in the air quickly bring knees to chest and feet to butt (much like a cannonball) and straighten legs back out to absorb landing Repeat movement as fast as tolerable for 8-15 reps.
  44. Sagittal Plane Jumps (Broad Jump): Begin in a low squat position. Explode into a forward broad jump. Try to jump as far as possible while still being able to land safely. Repeat the forward broad jump for 8-12 reps. Progression: Perform jump exercises below.
  45. Lunge Jumps: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Step forward and lower the body in to medium lunge. As you come up from the lunge explode by contracting glutes and quadriceps in to a jump position. While in the air switch feet so the opposite leg is now forward. Continue the jump lunge movement for 8-10 reps or across a room.
  46. Lateral Plane Jumps: Begin in standing and low squat position. Jump to the right and land on both feet. Hold the landing for 2 seconds. Jump back to the starting position. Repeat the side to side jump for 8-12 reps.
  47. Ice Skaters: Begin in standing and low squat position. Lift the right leg and slightly shift body weight over to the left leg. Press with the left leg in to the ground and jump to the right. Land, in a controlled manner on the right leg, and repeat movement back to the left. Perform the exercise as quickly but as controlled as possible for 8-15 reps.
  48. Transverse Plane Jumps: Begin in standing and low squat position. Jump and turn 90 degrees to the right. Land on both feet in a controlled manner. Hold the landing for 2 seconds. Jump 90 degrees to the left back to the starting position. Repeat the jump for 8-12 reps.
  49. SHARK Drill: Begin standing straight with feet together. Place hands on the hips. Perform a 6 inch hop forward and immediately jump back to starting position. Jump diagonally to the right 45 degrees and immediately return to the starting position. Next jump out to the side and return, backward diagonally 45 degrees and return. Repeat the pattern in a clockwise fashion for 3 full circles. Rest and repeat jump sequence in a counter-clockwise pattern. Perform the exercise as quickly as possible. Progression: Perform jump exercises below.

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