How to Build Core Strength with Body-Weight Exercises

A sailor performs a plank pose.
Master-at-Arms 1st Class Justin Rossman, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), performs a forearm plank during the physical readiness test, at Huntington Hall in Newport News, Virginia, Oct. 14, 2021. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amy Johnson/U.S. Navy photo)

For the military athlete, a strong and functional core is paramount to operational success as the movement demands called upon it (core) are very specific. The issue I see in most military training regiments is too much of a focus on having great-looking abs, not on strengthening all the incorporated muscles of core musculature.

Your core is defined as the bodily region bound by your abdominal wall, pelvis, lower back and diaphragm. Together, these areas have the ability to stabilize the body during movement. A complete core routine is one that incorporates movement in the hips, spine and lower back.

To train this region effectively, you must incorporate stability exercises such as planks and plank variations as well as rotational exercises. Here are several examples of exercises you can add to your routine to see a significant increase in core stability and functional strength.

I typically mix these throughout my workout because it's never a bad idea to mix in extra core work. There is no set time frame to perform these, but 30-60 seconds of each for 2-3 rounds should be sufficient to reap the benefits.

Tee Major is a certified group fitness and nutrition expert that has served the Army in Iraq and Air Force in Kyrgyzstan as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom & Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently serving the Navy on Coronado Island outside of San Diego. He also runs a fitness site dedicated to "serving others so they may serve" at

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