Creating a Core circuit

author - melissa witmer strength and conditioning

You know it’s time to stop doing crunches and be smarter about your core training. But where to begin?

My favorite method of training the core is by circuits. Because the primary purpose of the core is providing stability, is it made up of a higher percentage of slow-twitch fibers. This means it responds better to higher time under tension than other large muscle groups. Core circuits allow high-quality movement and high time under tension.

When creating a core circuit, here are some things I keep in mind:

  • stability work
  • planes of orientation (you want a variety)
  • rotational component

Here’s an example core circuit that incorporates all of the above:

Dead Bug Legs

The purpose of this exercise is to keep the pelvis stationary by engaging the core.

Start with 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions on each side. You can work your way up to 15 reps. Then move on to other progressions.

Obligue Bridge

This exercise provides a different plane of orientation and targets the obliques.

Start with 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions and move up to 8-12 repetitions each side.

Diagonal Plate Raise

This exercise provides a different orientation (standing – the most functional orientation) and a rotational component. You won’t feel this exercise in any particular core muscle group because it targets the whole core.

Start with a 10-25 lb plate. Start with 6 repetitions each side and work your way up to 15 reps each side. As you get more familiar with the exercise, you should feel more coordinated transfer of power from your hips into the core. 

As you can see, the combination of the above exercises incorporates

  • stability (dead bug),
  • several planes of orientation (supine (supine = on your back), sideways, and standing,
  • rotational component (plate rotations)