Core Strength: Standing Exercises

by Nicole Pizzi on Dec 23, 2011

Why do we usually train the core from the floor? Most people don’t spend the majority of their days on the floor, nor is it common to get injured from lying down or watching television. Injuries typically happen from improper technique, lack of body awareness and limited movement. Standing upright for core training allows you to move your body in all planes of motion and enhances core and spinal stabilization and balance.

It’s time to take a stand. Get participants on their feet and out of the computer-typing, freeway-driving position they find themselves in way too often. Encourage weight-bearing, multijoint movements that require more work and recruit more muscles, both of which may aid in fat loss—a goal that’s at the forefront of many participants’ minds.

The following four multijoint, multiplanar moves provide a full-body workout while emphasizing core musculature. Modify these exercises to fit your audience. Have participants perform the moves two to three times each for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fatigued.

The Lawnmower

Equipment: resistance band
Preparation: Place right (R) foot in middle of resistance band (one handle will be on ground). Hold handle in left (L) hand and stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart.
Execution: Lower body into squat, rotate torso to R knee and internally rotate L knee and ball of foot. As you stand, pull band up and across chest (as if starting a lawnmower) to L shoulder, and extend band so arm is straight above your head, creating diagonal line of energy from foot to tip of hand. Bring hand back to shoulder height and repeat. Switch sides.
Regression: Move into shallow squat.
Progression: Lessen slack in resistance band.

The Rocky

Equipment: dumbbells
Preparation: With dumbbells in hand, thumbs facing up, lower into squat.
Execution: Lift dumbbells to shoulder height; pull navel toward spine. Once at shoulder height, pull dumbbells to rib cage, elbows pointing back. Stay in squat, and punch both dumbbells forward; pause with arms straight in front (hold 1–3 seconds). Lower dumbbells to starting position.
Regression: Punch in standing position.
Progression: Use heavier weight and/or punch twice before lowering dumbbells.

For more exercises, please see “Take a Stand” in the online IDEA Library or in the November–December 2011 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

IDEA Fit Tips , Volume 10, Issue 1

© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Nicole Pizzi IDEA Author/Presenter


  • Log In to Comment
  • Nancy Triscuit

    Thank you Angela! I was really put off by the tone of Lisa's comments. Why in the world would you talk like that to other professionals?
    Commented Feb 24, 2012
  • Angela Prather

    Did not mean for my comment to appear twice!
    Commented Jan 30, 2012
  • Angela Prather

    Lisa, The Anonymous person must have replied while reading the article from the email link. I clicked on the link in my email, read the article, started to comment and saw that it said "anonymous" - So I went and logged into my accoutn so my name would be posted :) Great article, Nicole....this is good to incoporate into workouts/classes. There should be movement in all planes but I also agree with Anonymous that the floor can still be used. Pilates Mat Science is taught from the floor and is very effective. Again, it's about variety when working the body and it's good to vary the workouts. I would like to think that we are all professionals on here and would address one another with respect.
    Commented Jan 30, 2012
  • Lisa Byrne

    to Anonymous...huh? May I say one thing: The core ain't the abdominals. It's 29 muscles. If you are a fitness professional and you don't know this....anyway. Since the dawn of time-you mean cavemen?
    Commented Jan 25, 2012
  • User

    Since the dawn of time we have done abdominals on the floor so I am confused by you being confused Lisa about why someone would say that. To work a muscle effectively one works with resistance and on the body's weight provides resistance and you are working against gravity so actually the floor is a very effective way to work the abdominal muscles - all of them. Or there are ways to get resistance with equipment. That is not to say you can't work the core standing, sitting, or lying down and without resistance. But why limit it to one or the other? One can work the core in every single movement one does - that is the entire point of Pilates. Anyway....
    Commented Jan 22, 2012
  • Nick Ng

    Hi Justin. Good to see you here. Things can be better here and am working on it. We should get together some time and catch up. :)
    Commented Jan 21, 2012
  • Nick Ng

    Thank you, Nicole, for this different take on the core. For many years, I have noticed the issue of training on the floor, not so much from an upright position. As physical therapist Gray Cook had said many times, the core is not just a piece of anatomy in the mid-section; it is a reflexive system throughout the body that stabilizes the body when you move or to maintain balance. There are youtube videos of Gray and Paul Chek discussing the core for anyone who is interested. Thanks again for contributing.
    Commented Jan 19, 2012

Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Dark Chocolate + Your Internal Biota = Good Health

The evidence supporting the health benefits of dark chocolate can now be tied scientifically to the millions of microbes living in your gut. Louisiana State University researchers reported in mid-M...

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Ask the RD

Question: I have a couple of questions regarding eggs. Specifically, what is the best way to store them, and how long do I have to consume ...

Does Exercise Order Really Matter in Resistance Training?

Research on resistance training design finds that the chief variables include intensity, volume, recovery between sets and exercises, workout frequency, equipment and speed of movement (Simão et al....

Sample Class: Functional Strength for Older Adults

Baby Boomers are constantly bombarded with promises to lift, tighten and rejuvenate their bodies and “turn back the clock.” Truthfully, fitness professionals can roll back the clock for ol...

Functional Strength Training Combinations

Functional training essentially involves moving the body through different planes of motion while working multiple muscle groups and challenging balance. This Add It Up! strategy includes an upper-bod...

Answering the Age-Old Question “So, What Do You Think About This Diet?"

Since there is no one “best” diet, and since adherence to a new eating and exercise plan is the most important predictor of whet...