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Top 5 Core Strength Exercises

Last week we did a fair bit talking about the core, its function and some training methods for it.

Today I want to expand on by talking about integrated core training. In other words, rather than using specific “core training” exercises, why not use exercises that tick multiple boxes, including developing the torso strength and stability of juggernaut.

Anyone who has trained with me or had a program written by me will know that I don’t really add in much specific core training, yet they always develop a damn strong torso, stiff enough to give and take serious punishment. And if combined with sensible eating, a damn fine washboard appearance.

So here we go with a Top 5 of integrated core training exercises:

1 – Turkish Get Up. This is a big player. This requires mobility, stability, patience and strength. This is a lesson in control, particularly if you load it up. Since Mr Grey Cook and friends used the Get Up as a movement screen I’ve noticed that people are now harping on about perfect this and slow that and keep the weight light. Bollocks! We’re talking about the get up as a strength training drill. It’s the same exercise Mr Cook uses, but with a different emphasis. The old time strongmen wouldn’t look at you until you could do a get up with half your bodyweight. So for me that’s the 44KG kettle.

As always, minimum standards should be for other people, so go heavy, build this lift and I guarantee you won’t regret it. My best so far is a 7′ barbell loaded to 55kg. I will get 60kg before long!

2 – Renegade Rows Sometimes called plank rows. The first time I came across this, I fell in love. I love exercises that tick more than one box, and this ticks a whole lot of them! We are talking about a rowing action, which means it is already awesome, and adding in shoulder stability and if you go heavy, a shed load of rotational stability. In most sport it is rotational strength and stability that is the key player in performance, the renegade row will get you there!

Renegade Row

3 – Everything Unilateral Be it rows, presses, push ups, squats or deadlifts. Try them on one side only from time to time. This is easy, if you’re training military press today, follow it with some one arm presses. If you’re squatting, do some split squats, lunges or single leg squats for assistance work.

4 – Standing Russian Twist Get a barbell, load it on one end and stick the other end in a corner, or as we do, into an old car tyre. Now with the end of the bar held in both hands, twist and lower it to your hip, return to centre and repeat on the other side.


I talked about rotational strength being of utmost importance in most sports, especially the contact sports such as MMA & Rugby. This exercise trains that rotation in a standing position. Put some weight on the bar and you’ll suffer, but the rewards are astounding!

5 – Weighted Bear Crawls This isn’t something you’ll see very often, but you should! The core is the foundation around which we move the limbs. Most of our movement follows and X pattern, ie, our left arm moves with our right leg.

Be it walking, running, throwing or punching, our hips and shoulders move in opposing directions, it is up to the core to both create and resist this action. Crawling is a great way to focus in on this. Hold a heavy kettle or dumbbell in each hand as you crawl and you’ve got a beast of an exercise. We usually put this in the warm up or as a finisher, either way don’t be shy with the weight, but move in a coordinated fashion.

I personally guarantee adding these into your existing routine will give you an edge you never thought possible.

Have fun


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