Instructors, it’s time to take your core work off the floor. There are many fantastic ground-bound exercises that target the core—and you should definitely keep them! However, if you learn how to “sneak” in core work while standing, every workout has the potential to enhance participants’ strength, power and functionality.

Almost any exercise performed while standing affects the core if approached correctly. The following examples aren’t revolutionary, but the way you cue them should be. Set the focus and intention, communicate clearly and educate your class to make vertical core work a reality.

No Equipment Necessary

If you don’t have equipment, the secret to vertical core work is to link movement patterns together and add balance challenges when possible. Try these two sequences to fire up the core:

Lunge and Lean

  • Step right (R) leg back into reverse lunge while bringing both arms to chest height.
  • While in lowest part of lunge, rotate (arms long at chest height) left (L). Return arms to front while maintaining lunge, and push up to hip extension.
  • Tilt torso and move into forward hip-hinge, bending L leg slightly. Keep R leg outstretched behind you.
  • Keep R hand in front and sweep L hand toward back. Stay in hip-hinge position and switch arms to bring L arm in front and take R arm behind.
  • Bring both arms in front and return to standing.
  • Do 10 repetitions R and switch sides, or alternate for a total of 20 repetitions. To progress, hold a small weighted ball.

    Rainbow Arc

    • Step R leg back into curtsy lunge. Simultaneously, with arms overhead, laterally flex and angle elbows toward R foot.
    • As you stand up from lunge, bring R leg into wide knee lift out to R side of body and laterally flex toward knee, arms sweeping over body in “rainbow” motion.
    • Step back into curtsy lunge.
    • Repeat 10 times before switching legs.

      Try Tubing

      Partner tubing (or otherwise anchored tubing) is a great way to add challenge to a vertical core workout. Focus on the core in your first set and on intensity in sets two and three. Make any traditional tubing exercise core intensive by narrowing your stance or balancing on one leg. Try these two tubing exercises with a twist for added core work.

      High to Low “X” (not pictured)

      • Partners face each other holding two tubes crossed in middle to create X.
      • Partner A squats down, pulling X low, as partner B pulls tubes to raise X high; alternate. Keep arms straight throughout.
      • Repeat 10–15 times.

        Lunge to Rotation

        • Partners stand side by side with both hands grasping tubing handles.
        • Both partners step back into lunge with inside leg while holding tube out in front of chest.
        • From lunge position, both partners rotate away from one another while keeping arms straight and hips square to front of room.
        • While pushing up from lunge, partners extend back leg while rotating toward one another.
        • Repeat 10 times; switch sides.