Core Exercises To Add To Your Workout (Drill Pack 1)

I have spent years… and years… and years, teaching a core class (every Friday evening at Gymbox Holborn) and if it’s taught me anything it’s that a) working out your core will always entail working another body part at the same time and b) there are not an infinite number of (good) core exercises out there. The number one exercise I would always recommend is the plank which you can read more about and learn to perfect your form.

I originally wrote this post back in 2012 when I had first become a Nike Training Club Instructor. There were so many drills in the NTC repertoire covering full body workouts but I chose 3 of my favourite core exercises that you can add to a gym routine, into the middle of your run to mix it up a bit, or do at home when you wake up / before you go to sleep!

Drill 1. V – UPS

  • Beginner – 30 seconds
  • Intermediate – 45 – 60 seconds
  • Advanced – 60 – 90 seconds

Sit upright with knees tucked in to your chest, feet off the floor, and hands in a supportive position behind you.

Extend your legs out in front of you as you lower your upper body back towards the floor.

Crunch back in to the start position and repeat.

To make this less challenging keep your legs bent, and to increase the challenge make sure you kick your legs out straight in front or have your arms by your side, hip height.

Drill 2. 90 DEGREE ABS

  • Beginner – 30 seconds
  • Intermediate – 45 – 60 seconds
  • Advanced – 60 – 90 seconds

Start in a push up position with hands directly under your shoulders and feet together.

Drive one knee up towards your chest. Straighten the leg as you kick out to the side by rotating your hips.

Bend the leg to return knee to chest, then place your foot back into the start position.

Repeat on the other side.

Once you have nailed the basics of this move, try to rotate more through your hips; if you are having trouble with the rotation / stability, place your foot on the floor when you rotate. If the full exercise is too difficult, just do the rotation without attempting to straighten your leg.

Drill 3. KICK DOWN

  • Beginner – 30 seconds
  • Intermediate – 45 – 60 seconds
  • Advanced – 60 – 90 seconds

Lie on your back with legs straight up in the air, 90 degrees from your body. Soles of your feet should be facing the ceiling and toes down towards your forehead.

Keeping your legs straight, for a count of 4 lower them as far as you can down towards the ground (but not on the ground!).

For the same count of 4, slowly raise your legs back to the start position keeping your belly button drawn down towards the mat.

If you struggle to keep your lower back connected to the mat like I do with lordosis, then placing your hands underneath your hips during this exercise can help. If you need to decrease the challenge or have any lower back issues, do this exercise with your knees bent to 90 degrees and tap your toes gently on the ground.

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Make These Core Exercises Into a Workout

Here’s a simple way to make these exercises into a quick workout:

  • 5 exercises
  • 2 additional exercises: plank, sit ups or whatever you choose!
  • 45-50 seconds “on”
  • 10-15 seconds recovery
  • 3 rounds with 1 min recovery between rounds
  • 20 minutes maximum

One of my favourite places to look for workout inspiration is Pinterest; you can follow my workout ideas board to keep an eye on what I’m loving (and probably teaching!).

Have you got a favourite core exercise?!


P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 



  1. August 8, 2019 / 21:23

    Whew, that 90 degree ab move looks brutal!! Going to give them all a try!

    • Elle
      August 11, 2019 / 18:08

      Brutal maybe! But effective! Lemme know what you think x

  2. Nerissa Ann
    July 20, 2012 / 15:12

    I used drill 2 today during my run 😉 Thanks for this!

    • Danielle Linton
      July 20, 2012 / 15:39

      Whoop! glad it was of use! How did you find it? It's the most difficult of the three but a good 'un!! :)x

    • Nerissa Ann
      July 20, 2012 / 16:15

      I was good for maybe 8 reps, but then I started getting tired from holding plank position so I went on elbows ;P and did 4 more reps

  3. Danielle Linton
    July 19, 2012 / 15:30

    You?! chubs?! whatever!! I think you don't realise how far you have come, how well your are doing, and how great you look!! 😉

  4. Chi-Chi
    July 19, 2012 / 15:20

    the 90 degree abs are a killer…. as are the kick downs!but i can feel abs under the layer of chubs, so they must be working!

    • Elle
      August 11, 2019 / 18:52

      You?! chubs?! whatever!! I think you don’t realise how far you have come, how well your are doing, and how great you look!! 😉 apparently didn’t actually post this as a reply to your comment! lol

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