The No-Equipment-Required 5-Minute Core Workout

Strengthen your core muscles in five intense minutes using just your body weight. STACK Expert Jim Carpentier offers three exercise combos that get the job done.

Bird Dog Exercise

Your fall sport season is underway, and you realize your core muscles are not as strong as you thought they would be after your off-season conditioning program. Sudden twisting, turning, lunging and reaching movements in the middle of practices or games engage core muscles (lower and middle back, abdominal, groin and hip). If those muscles fall short, performance inevitably suffers.

Don't fret. This five-minute, intense bodyweight core-strengthening workout will get you back at the top of your game. The best part? No equipment is required, so you can conveniently do this brief yet challenging set of exercises at home or on the field before or after practices or games.


  • Perform all the exercise combos non-stop. Without resting, proceed to the next combo exercise group.
  • Do the workout two to three times a week (on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery) to maintain core strength throughout the season.

Workout Combos

Superman/Prone Plank/Push-Up

Supermen target the lower, middle and upper back muscles and abdominal muscles. Prone Planks strengthen upper and lower abdominal muscles. Push-Ups engage abdominal, lower, middle and upper back, shoulder, arm and chest muscles.

  • Start on your stomach and do one Superman (legs and arms off the floor with abs in contact with ground)
  • Immediately follow with a Prone Plank (rest on your forearms spaced shoulder-width apart).
  • Perform one Push-Up.
  • Repeat the entire sequence non-stop for one minute.

Bird Dog/Side Plank/Supine Plank

Bird dogs are excellent for enhancing balance and stability—think of a running back or wide receiver evading a tackle and trying to prevent his knee from touching the turf. These exercises especially help improve abdominal, gluteal, groin and lower, middle and upper back strength.

Side planks strengthen the oblique muscles, which are required during rapid twisting, turning, lunging and bending movements in soccer and football. Supine planks particularly strengthen lower, middle, upper back and gluteal muscles.

  • Assume a push-up position (abs tight, knees off the ground, back straight).
  • Raise your right arm and left foot off the ground and hold 30 seconds.
  • Switch to left arm/right foot off the ground for 30 seconds (Bird Dog movement).
  • Immediately rotate to your right side and raise your hips off the ground while resting on your right forearm.
  • Hold your left hand overhead for 30 seconds.
  • Rotate to your left side with your left forearm resting on ground and your right hand raised and hips elevated for 30 seconds (Side Planks).
  • Immediately turn over on your back, extend your legs and rest your forearms on the ground.
  • Raise your hips and back off the ground while pressing your heels down.
  • Hold for one minute (Supine Plank).

Alternating Sit-Ups/Seated Twists

Sit-Ups engage the hip flexors and abdominal muscles. Seated Twists target the oblique muscles. Both movements strengthen the muscles called upon when you need to quickly rise from a supine or seated position and chase an opponent downfield, for example.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms folded across your chest.
  • Perform a Sit-Up and quickly rotate your torso side-to-side.
  • Return to start position on your back.
  • Do as many alternating Sit-Ups/Seated Twists as you can in one minute.

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