For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
While everyone is stuck at home practicing social isolation, those who normally rely on public gyms for their strength and core training are out of luck. But, take heart, luck is on your side. You actually don’t need any traditional fitness equipment to do a unique, challenging core and glute workout. Which means you don’t have to wait to start a core strengthening program either: This may be the perfect time to build a more robust, balanced, and powerful body.
Here is a 5-exercise circuit that utilizes common household items to challenge your glutes and core.
Perform these exercises as a circuit with minimal rest. Take 90 seconds after the fifth exercise and start over. Do 3–4 total sets, 2–3x/week.
Exercise #1: Body Saw Plank with Hand Towels
Focus: Anterior Core—The Abs
How: Place your elbows and forearms on the floor. Put your toes on hand towels and go into a plank. Form a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Push your ribs up and tuck in your hips. Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes.
Slowly slide your entire body away from your elbows. Notice a challenge to your abs. Once you reached your distance where you can still maintain proper form, pull your body forward and return to the starting position.
How Many: 2 sets of 10 reps
Exercise #2: Side Plank Luggage Pick Up
Focus: Lateral Core
How: Lie on your side with your legs straight and stacked on top of each other. Place your bottom elbow and forearm on the ground and lift up your hips. Form a straight line from the top of your head to your ankles. Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes. Make sure your shoulders are square and not rounded. With a small piece of luggage in front of your ribs, grab the handle with your top hand.
Keep your body still and pick your back up off of the floor a few inches. Notice a challenge to your lateral core on the bottom side of your torso. Return the bag to the floor, but stay up in the side plank and prepare for the next rep.
How Many: 15 reps per side
Exercise #3: Single Leg Hip Lift with Couch
How: Lie on the floor in front of a couch. Place one foot on the front of the couch and the other in the air. Place your arms to the side for balance.
Push your foot into the couch to lift your hips up. Reach for the ceiling with your opposite leg. Form a straight line from your shoulder to your knee and squeeze your glute on your plant leg side. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then do 10 dynamic reps, raising and lowering your hips.
Be careful not to overextend your low back at the top of each hip lift. After 10 dynamic reps, hold the top position for 9-seconds. Then do 9 dynamic reps. Continue this count-down pattern until you reach 1. Then switch sides.
How Many: 1 set of count-down reps per side
Exercise #4: Couch Reverse Hyper
How: Lie over the arm of your couch with your legs draped over the side. Grab on to a cushion for support. Brace your abs and make sure to not over-arch your low back.
Lift your legs up and slightly out from your hip joint. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. Again, make sure you don’t over arch your low back. Lower your leg under control and prepare for the next rep.
How Many: 15 slow reps
Exercise #5: Reverse Couch Crunch
Focus: Abs & Obliques
How: Lie on your back perpendicular to the front of a couch. Grab the underside of the couch to anchor your upper body. Bring your knees into your chest and touch your calves onto your hamstrings.
Use your abs to curl your hips off the ground toward your ribs. Do not use momentum. Stop where you still feel a strong contraction in your abs. If you lift too high, your core might disengage. Slowly lower your spine one vertebrae at a time until your glutes just touch the floor.
Do: 15 slow reps
Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, CEP, is a strength & conditioning coach with 15 years of experience and co-owner of JKConditioning, a health and fitness business in St. John’s, NL, Canada. He’s a retired competitive runner and a long time contributor to PodiumRunner. Follow him at @JKConditioning.