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Core Conditioning: 5 Partner 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.

Partner exercises require 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 that 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.

For information, see the complete article, “Core Training Duo,” in the June 2009 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal or online in the IDEA Library.

Irene McCormick, MS

"Irene McCormick, MS, is the 2018 IDEA Instructor of the Year and the senior director of fitness education for Orangetheory Fitness® in Boca Raton, Florida. Former adjunct faculty at Drake University, Irene is a master course instructor for TRX®, a lead conference educator for WaterRower®, a Savvier Fitness master trainer, a Ryka® brand ambassador and an award-winning conference educator. She has also written two books, and is a subject matter expert for ACE, NASM, Human Kinetics and Orangetheory."

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