Core Training Duo

by Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS on May 27, 2009


Make the most of time and resources by teaching partner-based core exercises.

How do you transition students quickly from the main part of class to the core-conditioning exercises? With larger classes and limited space and equipment, you may want to add creative partner-based moves.

Both single and partner-based core-training exercises should target specific muscle groups. The core consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder and provides a solid foundation for total-body movement. A strong core distributes weight-bearing loads and helps protect the low back.

Partner work requires skill and clear communication. Make sure both partners understand the movements and the resistance or strength required to perform the moves safely and correctly. Pair individuals quickly and efficiently, matching them by strength level, height and body weight. Address this at the start of class to avoid confusion.

Partner Side Plank With Reach-Through Press

Partner 1 gets into side plank position: bottom arm extended beneath shoulder (or forearm supporting body), other arm extended upward and legs crossed top over bottom. Partner 2 stands slightly behind partner 1, who lifts hip while reaching under body with top arm, then returns top arm to extended position while slightly lowering hip. Partner 2 pushes back on partner 1’s lifted hand, creating a force that the core muscles must control. Partner 1 performs 3–5 repetitions on each side, and then it is partner 2’s turn.

Resistance Tubing Horizontal Wood Chop

Using high-resistance elastic tubing, each partner holds a handle with both hands at about mid-torso, feet hip width apart. Partner 1 turns slightly away from anchor point (partner 2) so she is holding tubing just outside torso. Partner 2 does the same, facing opposite direction. Partners simultaneously pull tubing across torso in horizontal line, rotating shoulders. Head and shoulders stay aligned so they move as single unit. Partners reverse sequence and return to start, performing 10–15 reps before switching sides.

Medicine Ball Partner Twists

Partners stand back to back, feet hip width apart. Partner 1 holds medicine ball (6–10 pounds) and rotates through transverse plane, passing ball to partner 2 from behind. They perform 10 on one side and then switch sides. For a progression, participants can try this exercise from a lunge stance.

BOSU Balance Trainer® Hand Press

Two BOSU Balance Trainers are placed side by side (about 2 feet apart). Partners stand on top, facing each other, and press hands as each person lifts one foot slightly (in opposition). Partners press and hold for 30–60 seconds while maintaining single-leg balance, then switch legs.

Patty-Cake Plank

Partners get into prone plank pose, heads facing. To increase spinal stability, feet are wide apart on floor. In opposition, partners bring hands up to “patty-cake.” They perform 10–15 counts of hand slapping while stabilizing their bodies. n

© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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About the Author

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, C.S.C.S. is an international fitness educator, twice published author (Human Kinetics) and 30-year fitness industry veteran. Irene is faculty at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and SCW Fitness. She is the Education Director for Octane Fitness, an Orangetheory Fitness coach and a RYKA Fitness Ambassador. Irene contributes to several fitness and consumer publications, is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for ACE and NASM, an IDEA Fitness Expert, and contributing author to the newest release of the AFAA Group Fitness Instructor Manual. Irene holds positions on the advisory board for Diabetic Living magazine and the Egg Nutrition Council. Irene has starred in dozens of DVD's, has written 13 fitness instructional manuals (pre-natal, water fitness, small group training, kids fitness, HIIT program design, strength training, group exercise, etc.) and is a master trainer for TRX, Savvier Fitness, Power Systems, SCW Fitness Education, JumpSport and KnotOut. Her primary certifications include NSCA, ACE, ACSM, AEA, AFAA and YogaFit.