Macebell 360 Swings| Technique, Benefits and Workouts

macebell

The Macebell 360 swing is a high velocity, total body circular strength exercise that makes an “around-the-world” path of motion traveling in front and behind the body.

Macebell 360 swings are a fundamental exercise in the macebell training catalog.

Beginners, novice all the way up to elite macebell trainees use the 360 exercise.

“Wait… What’s a Macebell?”

Macebell (sometimes referred to steel maces) is a dense ball of mass welded onto the end of a long steel handle.   

The Macebell 

The design of the macebell makes it a fantastic tool for circular movements like swings, because of the increased length of the handle (as compared the clubbells), creating a significant amount of torque.

 

Benefits of Macebell 360 Swings

I’m not going to spend a ton of time rattling off benefits, because listing benefits is a tired tactic to keep the reader’s attention on fitness blogs.  

And I get it.  You landed here looking to learn more about Macebell training and you want to know what’s in it for you.  

I read websites on various topics (most recently on how to grow a lush lawn) thinking “What’s in it for me?”. 

Here are a few notable benefits of Macebell 360 swings:

  •  Improved grip strength
  •  Cardio conditioning
  •  Rotational core training 
  •  Builds resilient shoulders
  •  Multi-planar exercises
  •  Pairs extremely well with other modalities 
  •  Valid calorie-burning exercise (contributing to fat loss)
  •  Fresh, challenging, engaging, different fitness training

Holding onto the macebell during swings and other exercises train the grip, pretty aggressively.  Especially as the weight of the macebell increases (grip strength) or the higher rep sets are used (grip endurance). 

Similar to kettlebell swings, macebell 360 swings are great to use for loaded cardio conditioning. 

Core training should expand beyond flexion/extension and static stability exercises.  Training the core for rotational performance using a macebell is FANTASTIC.  Macebell 360 swings can boost rotational power while also training the body to resist rotational forces (anti-rotation).  

The obliques get blasted during 360 swings, mainly due to the cross-body nature of the exercise.  

I talk a little more about using the importance of using dedicated mobility exercises down below, but the macebell does articulate the shoulders through a more robust range of motion than 90% of other exercises in the gym.  

Over time, the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder will gain strength, flexibility, and mobility.   

Just be careful to avoid overstress these soft tissue structures 😬 (thus the recommendation to build mobility/strength using active mobility training)

Most exercises are performed in the sagittal and frontal planes (very linear), which is fine, but 3-dimensional fitness should include moving in the transverse plane. 

Taking it a step further, workouts should include exercises and sequences that integrate all 3-planes in one shot.  

 

Macebell 360 Swing Technique

  1.  Mace starts in a vertical position in front of the body, hands near the bottom.
  2.  Tip the head of the mace to one side, allow the sphere to begin “falling” through an arc behind the body.
  3.  As the head falls, raise the hands up, over and behind the head (diagonal pullover)
  4.  After the mace passes behind the butt, “pull” it out through the remaining arc, drawing the hands back over the shoulder and in front of the body.
  5.  Reset in step #1 position before starting the next rep.  
  6.  Less reading, more viewing… watch the slow-motion video above.

    Injury

    What’s funny about macebell 360 swings, is that the torque and velocity (two great features of the exercise) are also what scares the living shit out of people when it comes to the risk of injury.

    You smoke yourself with a macebell and you’re going to be gun shy for a little bit.

    And I get it.

    When my 15lb sand 25lb macebells arrived I couldn’t wait to get into the gym and start using them.

    The excitement quickly faded after I skived the head of the macebell off of hip.

    Without question, there are real dangers and consequences of swinging a mace, but a person can mitigate the risk of injury by practicing introductory exercises and acclimating to the demands of the swing gradually.

    Every repetition, your body must produce force to get the macebell moving, but also stabilize and control the mace throughout the path of travel.

    The purpose of this article is to share benefits, technique tips/tricks, and how to use macebell 360 swings in workouts.  

    Macebell exercises are not more “dangerous” as compared to barbell cleans, kettlebell swings, or jumping onto a box.

    Learn the technique, work to improve it, you’ll be good. 

 

Correcting Shoulder Mobility Problems with Macebell Exercises

Macebells are frequently recommended as a mobility training tool for the shoulders and thoracic spine, and this makes me cringe.

I do not endorse trying to use weighted exercises as miracle cures for improving mobility.

My personal opinion… if you don’t own the range of motion (actively) without weight, you shouldn’t use weight to pull you into that range of motion.  

Seems like a recipe for disaster. 

Can 360 swings improve your shoulder mobility and function?  Yeah, they can.

Is it a good idea to bypass mobility drills like CARs, prone swimmers, and other slow and controlled mobility drills in favor of twirling weight around your body?  

In my humble opinion, no.

Take this as a word of caution.

You might be fine… but then again… you might not.

If throughout any part of the range of motion, the stress of the macebell swing (torque, velocity, acceleration and deceleration, shoulder position, etc) exceeds tissue tolerance, the risk of injury is increased.

The most vulnerable position is likely to be just before, during, and after the shoulders are extended (hands behind the neck) while the macebell is moving behind the body, this can be a compromised position.

And to be fair to macebell training, using a piece of weighted equipment in hopes of improving mobility isn’t just a macebell cautionary tale.

I give the same word of caution to every other piece of equipment, exercise, or activity.

Advice:  Work to improve mobility BEFORE swinging the mace, not while swinging the mace.

MyMobilityDaily is my top choice to learn effective mobility solutions that leverage FRC principles (functional range conditioning).  The program is streamed to your home and workouts are constantly being updated. 

 

Selecting a Macebell Weight

Start with a 10lb or 15lb macebell, but over time you will need to increase the weight to continue challenging your body. 

Lighter is better in the beginning.  A lightweight mace will give you more control and create more space for technical errors.  

Size up in weight with time and practice.  

Most macebells, one-piece and adjustable options, get heavier by 2.5 or 5lb increments.  

The human body adapts quickly to repetition and repeated stress.

Light/Midweight Macebells = Higher reps

Heavy Macebells = Low reps

Same as lifting weights. 

Creating Workouts Using Macebell 360 Swings

Here’s a common question I get:

I don’t recommend ONLY using Macebell 360 swings as the entire workout.

You could, but there are so many other great exercises and mobility drills, why isolate yourself to just one?

As part of a workout? Yes.  Just not the whole thing.

Now with that being said, you can test your cardio and strength with longer duration sets.  I’ve performed Macebell 360 swings for 8+ minutes without rest, alternating 10 reps in both directions and switching my grip periodically.  Tough little workout.  

I prefer total body training sessions.  

Throughout any given week, I’ll strength train (2-3 sessions), condition (2-3 sessions) and ALWAYS include mobility work of some kind.  

When I’m working macebell drills, it’s common practice to include bodyweight movements.  Bodyweight training pairs extremely well with just about any gym equipment (smooth transitions, variations, accessibility, etc)

Everywhere you go, bodyweight training is an option. 

👉 Vahva Fitness “Movement20XX” is currently my top program pick for learning how to move your body against gravity. 

Here’s a shortlist of great bodyweight exercises to pair up with the Macebell:  push-ups, hollow body rocks, crawling variations (forward, backward, lateral, lizard, etc) ground-based movement training, dive bombers, chin-ups, pull-ups, rows, squat/lunge/hip hinge variations, etc.

Save your grip.  If you are going to include exercises drain your grip (deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, etc), think it through.

Grip integrity is crucial while swinging the mace.  You let go of that sucker and it’s destroying whatever it hits.

If grip fatigue is a concern, consider skipping pulling exercises like horizontal rows and vertical pull-ups while you’re swinging, or simply shuffle those exercise to the back of the workout once swing practice is finished.

Non-competing exercises.  Unlike some exercises, Macebell 360 swings don’t suck away energy from other activities in a workout.

Sure, every effort in the gym is going to drain the fuel tank a little bit, but swings have more of a flow-like element to them, with less time under tension versus grinding exercises like squats, push-ups, and pulling exercises.

Here are a few 4 exercise circuits …

Circuit #1

Macebell 360 Swings x 10 each side

Single-Leg Squat (Pistol Squat) x 5 each side

Sliding Push-Ups x 5 each side

Hollow Body Rocks x1 0

 

Circuit #2

Macebell 360 Swings x 10 each side

Body Rows x 8

Single-Leg Deadlift x 5 each side

Rotational Side Planks x 8 each side

 

Reps.  I like 8-10 reps per side for beginners and novice.  After the last rep, rest for a little bit before starting the next set.  

Over time, feel free to increase the reps per side (15+) and the reps per set (30, 40, 50+ reps).

I like to accumulate reps in a session.  

Accumulating 100 swing reps per workout is not unreasonable and spread across several workouts per week, this is a great way to improve swing technique through volume, acclimation, and constant technique refinement.

You have to practice, practice, practice to play well.  

Macebell 360 swings are good to go for higher rep work sets.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and work until it sounds, or, aim for 6-8 rounds with limited rest (:30-:45 seconds) between each round.

I’ve worked up to no rest for the entire 10-minute work set, remaining cognizant of my technique and fatigue level throughout. 

*** Setting a timer and getting to work is a favorite exertion strategy of mine.  It allows for all focus to be directed toward technique/mechanics, body position, and timing.  

If at any point swing technique begins to unravel (fatigue kills technique) or grip integrity diminishes and compromises safety… REST!

If you’re looking for cardio combinations, well, you came to the right place.

I LOVE using macebell 360 swings inside of conditioning circuits.

This cardio circuit is a personal favorite:

Macebell 360 Swings x10 each side

200m SkiErg

Hip Thrust x15

If you don’t have access to a SkiErg, substitute wave drills with battling ropes (or next-generation reactive training tool: InertiaWave), towel snaps, or medicine ball slams.

But I’d recommend saving up for a SkiErg, it’s an incredibly unique and versatile piece of cardio equipment with a small footprint for home gyms with limited space.

Public Service Announcement:  Are you hip thrusting yet? (sounds kinda kinky, “that’s what she said”)  If not, add hip thrusts to your workout regimen.  Hip thrusts should be categorized as a primary exercise in my book (similar to deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, etc).  They’re AWESOME for building strong glutes and hamstrings.

 

Advanced Macebell 360 Variations

“Advanced” describes any variation beyond the basic Macebell 360 swing.  

Advanced variations introduce an additional technical element or movement that increases the challenge and training stimulus, making them more difficult.  

Here a few cool variations:

Macebell 360 High/Low Swings

By far, this is my favorite macebell combination.  

The flowing nature, swinging high and low in front of the body and behind, makes this combination challenging and addicting.

Start with lighter weight to feel out the demands and smooth out the technique of the combo.

Over time, you can increase the weight used and get the entire body twisting and turning.  

🦴 Foot Fracture Saving Tip:  Choke up on the macebell or flex at the elbows to keep the head of the mace away from the feet, or you risk DESTROYING your foot bones.

Macebell 360 Swing to Bicep Catch

If you like adding bicep work into your gym sessions, you’ll love this exercise. 

Slowing down a speeding macebell using an eccentric variation of a bicep curl is AGGRESSIVE.

On top of slowing it down, reverse the action and “throw” the macebell back into orbit by curling it back up.

 

Macebell 360 Swings vs Kettlebell Swings

Having read through this article, you’re now familiar with Macebell 360 swings.  In the kettlebell training world, kettlebell swings are a close relative to the macebell 360.

Macebell and kettlebell training are both ballistic drills, which are great for power development and conditioning (among other athletic traits).

During 360 swings, the macebell crosses the midline of the body from left to right and right to left on every rep, where the kettlebell swings pass between the legs from front to back in a pendulum-like fashion.  

Two different paths of travel train different muscles.  

For reference, here are kettlebell swings:

One of the glaringly obvious differences between a macebell and kettlebell is in the design.  

A 40lb macebell and kettlebell weigh exactly the same when placed on a weight scale, however, after lifting a 40 lb macebell, 10 out of 10 people would agree it feels 15-20lbs heavier.  

It’s pretty bizarre. 

The kettlebell?  Pretty balanced piece of equipment.  

Macebells and kettlebells have a different distribution of weight, handles and therefore each piece of equipment creates a unique training experience.

At some point, I’ll write up a “Kettlebell Training vs Macebell Training” article.

Instead of playing favorites, I suggested designating each tool to play to their respective strengths and “best” exercises and uses in the gym.  

Where to find/buy Macebells

I originally purchased my 15lb and 25lb from Amazon after doing extensive research.  

Most macebells are designed exactly the same, so it became a cost situation. 

Eventually, I went with these Apollo Macebells.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have purchased the adjustable Adex Macebell.  

Similar to lifting weights, Macebell training requires progressive loading across time to make gains and avoid plateauing.

The Adex Macebell is brilliantly constructed and allows for incremental changes in weight from 5lbs to 50lbs.  

If you were to buy individual (one-piece) macebells in all of these sizes, they’d suck up a ton of valuable gym space while spending 4-5x the money in the end.  

Now, if you’re going to be working sledgehammer drills against a tire with the macebell, I recommend using a one-piece macebell for that. 

 

Home Gym| 3 Exercises and a Movement Game to Build Useful Muscle and Body Control

Motion

Fewer words, more videos.

From a usefulness perspective, video CRUSHES the written word.  

I could write 800 words about an exercise, or show you a :30 second video and deliver more clarity. 

I hope you view each video below and think, “Shit, that exercise looks fun/effective/challenging/engaging/different or applicable to my situation, I’ll try that next workout”.

Exposure to new ideas can change your attitude and enthusiasm about working out. 

Equipment needed for these exercises:

  •  Yoga blocks (hockey puck, shoe box, etc)
  •  Weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, etc)

I used yoga blocks for the upper body Yoga Block Game in the video below, you don’t have to.  

Use what you’ve got lying around the house (yoga blocks are extremely versatile, inexpensive and have a lot of uses).

Weight.  Any object of weight will work to load these exercises. Common household items can be substituted in place of dumbbell or kettlebell.  Use what you’ve got.  If the weight is challenges the movement pattern without compromising safety, go for it.  

In the meantime, look into getting yourself an adjustable kettlebell or dumbbell (adjustable fitness equipment are economical and space savers)

Quick Advice on Reps/Sets/Weight

Let’s address the two most common questions I get about most of my exercise videos:

“How many reps and sets do you recommend?

“What weight should I use?”

Good questions… but here’s the deal, only you know the answers to those questions.

I can suggest reps all day long.  

But if you’re cheating the exercise on rep 3 of a 10 rep set because your ego wants to practice the exercise variation from my video, but what you really need is a variation 2-3 steps back in difficulty… well…

Same goes for weight selection.  

Avoid the temptation to chase the “burn” during each work set and select a weight you can control every step of the way.

The Goldilock’s Rule for selecting weight:

Not too heavy, not too light… juuuuusssssstt right. 

Take a step back and take an honest assessment of your strength and fitness level, movement quality, and familiarity with the exercise(s).

Ego-Free Guidelines to Apply to any exercise:

  •  Start with lighter weight (move up in weight as needed)
  •  Quality reps only 
  •  Get to know fatigue and what it doesn’t to movement quality
  •  Move slow, move with control
  •  Patience
  •  Be in the moment, feel everything, remain mindful

Enough lead in.  

Here are a 4 (home gym approved) exercises and a movement game worth experimenting with in your next workout.

Split Stance Cross Body RDL

Have you ever had to lift an object from the floor without being able to get into a picture-perfect deadlift stance/position?

Me too.

Stagger your stance and shift weight onto the front leg.

Lower the weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, etc) along the outside of the front shin bone until it touches the floor outside of the foot.  

Pause briefly.  Stand back up.  

You should feel the bulk of the work from the front working leg hamstring up into the glute.

Slipping a little rotation into common movement patterns (hip hinge) is a good thing.  (So is rain to make whiskey).

Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps per side. 

Single-Leg Deadlift + Row

Coordination, balance, and timing are all put to the test with this exercise.

Grab the weight, hinge forward while balancing on one leg, row.

People get pleasure from bashing combinations like this because neither the deadlift or the row is “optimized”.

Interestingly, the same folks who poo-poo these exercises struggle to balance on one leg, sooooo….?

The purpose of this exercise is to be a movement challenge.  

Balance on one leg, maintain shape and control while rowing an object of weight.  

For perspective, this exercise variation isn’t my top pick to deadlift 500lbs from the floor.  There are better variations.

Also for perspective, performing a row with a challenge amount of weight while holding a single leg hip hinge is a difficult little maneuver.  

And how about the foot conditioning here?

Balancing on one leg is fantastic for strengthening the tiny little muscles underneath and surrounding the foot/ankle.  

If you can, remove your shoes while you workout.  Barefoot training is a really simple way to strengthen the feet.  

Hybrid/non-traditional movements like this one offer up something different for your body unpack and navigate, which IS the benefit in and of itself.

Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps per side. 

Yoga Block Game (Upper Body)

Objective: Push each yoga block out as far as possible.

I suggest going around the circle a few times because you’ll notice you’re able to push each block a few millimeters further on each attempt.

From my experience, when a normal linear set of an exercise transitions into a task or a challenge, people get competitive and the effort given increases.  

The entire front side of your body is going to be burning like a bonfire on this one.

Arms, chest, core, etc.  All of it… on 🔥 

Aim for 2-3 attempts, either during the warm-up or workout.

Hollow Body Rock + Single Leg Squat

Hollow Body Rocks and Single Leg Squats (aka pistol squats) are two fantastic exercises on their own.  

Here are links to each exercise:

Single leg squats are my go-to squat pattern.  I get a phenomenal training effect without needing a lot of equipment (for added weight) and there are bunch of progressive variations to further challenge mobility (ex:  dragon squats).

Single leg squats transition well into everyday tasks.  So much is done on one leg, it’s beneficial to train for it in the gym.

Hollow Body exercise variations link the upper and lower body together and might look easy from afar, but they‘re actually quite difficult.  

As an introduction to Hollow Body work, try holding a Static Hollow Body position for 30 seconds x 4-5 rounds (1:1 work to rest periods).

Good luck.  👍🏼  

Fusing Hollow Body Rocks and Single Leg Squats creates a whole new movement challenge.

The goal here is to make two exercises look like one exercise by creating smooth transitions.

Aim for 5 sets of 6 reps per leg. 

Isolated Exercises into Movement Combinations

If you’ve checked out my YouTube or Instagram pages, you’ll notice how often I fuse 2, 3 or maybe 4 exercise together to create movement sequences and hybrid movements.  

You can take simplest of exercises and morph them into a difficult movement combinations.

Always start by learning a movement pattern in isolation.  

Give your body a chance to understand the exercise.  

Your body will gradually make gains in strength, control and work capacity.

From there, explore fusing several exercises together, creating combinations, etc.

Down the road, play around with speeding up the tempo, change angles, twist/turn, change levels, use different training surfaces, add weight, etc.

Exercises like this is can provide a simple introduction to movement training and create a renewed interest in gym work.  

Which exercises are you going to try out today?  

Any of them?  All of them?  

Give them a try and leave me a comment down below.  

 

T’is all for today.

Kyle 

Uncommon Macebell Exercises

Motion

Macebell training provides a unique variety of exercise options mainly because the macebell has a weight distribution, shape, and design different than any other piece of fitness equipment.

The exercises a person can integrate into their workout regimen using a macebell are unlike anything else.

Every piece of gym equipment is a tool with different applications and uses.

The macebell, being a non-traditional piece of equipment for the modern gym, creates an opportunity to explore unique movement patterns.

360s and 10-and-2 are fairly recognizable circular/swinging exercises popular on social media, touted improving shoulder mobility and core stability.

I can’t disagree, but macebell training can go a lot deeper than just two exercises.

The macebell can be repurposed and morphed into a tool to challenge very dynamic rotational movements that include footwork.

The landmine-like exercise in the video above was tough, even with a 25lb mace.  Keep the arms extended at the elbows and reach as far out as possible.  Breathe.

Torque and Velocity

Macebells create a fantastic opportunity to train in planes with torque and velocities that other common gym equipment simply cannot.

Each of these movements presents a different challenge.

Enjoy.

Gravediggers

Gravediggers mimick the motion of shoveling and work great as a warm-up drill or for conditioning.

Play around with hand position on the shaft of the macebell.

Moving the hands closer together can make a 15lb macebell feel like 30lbs.

Add a twist at the top of the Gravedigger, rotating from the waist to the shoulders.

Flowing movements like this can be performed for higher repetitions, anywhere from 8-15 reps per side, for multiple sets.

Gravedigger + Push-Up Flow

A gravedigger, except keep moving forward, setting the mace down softly for a push-up.  

Back and forth you go. 

Squat to Press

Squat down while raise the mace up.  

Looks easy, but it’s not easy.  

Stationary High/Low 360s

Alternating high and low 360s is one of my all-time favorite combinations.  

The flow of this combinationon is addicting and the rotational aspect is very unique.

Be very, very, very aware of where the mace is positioned on the low swing.  

If you bounce the head of the mace off of your feet or shins, it’s all over.  

Even with lighter weight, you’re heading to the emergency room.  

To help avoid this catastrophy, choke up higher on the mace, which basically turns the mace into a club (it’s shorter family member).

You’ll be able to relax your mind and find a rhythm.  

Cross-Body Bicep Curls

Bicep curls using a macebell are freaking aggressive.  

First, you’ve got navigate absorbing the force of the macebell traveling with speed through the middle (while switching hand position on the shaft of the mace).

Hit the brakes, slow it down.  

Lower the arm into full extension, “throw” it back through the middle.  

I love this hybrid bicep curl.  

It’s a lot more engaging compared to a boring traditional bicep curl.  

360 + Bicep Curl Combo

Linking the traditional macebell 360 exercise with the previous mentioned cross-body bicep curl creates a very approachable combination.  

Core, shoulder mobility, biceps, force generation and absorption, etc.  

It’s all here. 

Rotational Skaters

Incorporating a little footwork with rotational movement brings us closer to the dynamic demands of sport and daily life.  

This is a tough drill. 

Firmly palm and grip the mass of the macebell while driving the hands inward toward each other to secure the macebell.

“Skate” and rip the macebell through the middle.  

Get aggressive with rotary compoent, but remember you’ve got keep enough control to push and stick the landing.  

Go with lighter weight.  The video shows 15lbs.

Adex Adjustable Clubs and Maces

It’s nice to have a few different macebell weights on hand for different exercises.

For example, the macebell I’m going to condition with using 360s is WAY heavier than what I’m going to drill rotational skaters with.

The problem is buying a bunch of one-piece macebells is it gets expensive and will clutter up a gym space pretty quickly.

Keep the gym space as open as possible is best (in my opinion).

Adex Adjustable Clubs and Maces provide a great compact solution.

With the purchase of an Adex Adjustable Macebell you’ll be able to quickly adjust the weight ranging from 6-30lbs in increments depending on your strength/skill level, along with the exercise.

Remember, some exercises will require lighter (or heavier) weight.

Need to go heavier?

The Rhino add-on kit increases the club weight options to 45lbs and macebells to 50lbs respectively.

Above 50lbs and you’re going to be buying a custom macebell from somewhere.

Prefer a one-piece macebell?  

👉 Here are several great options.

What do you think?  

Ready to dive into macebell training or at least add a mace to your home gym?  

Do it.  

Macebells are a very dynamic piece of gym equipment.  

You won’t be disappointed. 

 

 

One Kettlebell, 3 Fat Loss Workouts

Motion

Only one kettlebell?  NOT A PROBLEM.

There are hundreds of different movement combinations, circuits, and workouts that can be created using a single kettlebell.  

I actually prefer to workout with one kettlebell.  

Single kettlebell training allows for smooth hand-to-hand switches but also employs uni-lateral loading, which challenges the muscles on the non-working side to stabilize the body.  

Pound for pound, the king of all unilaterally loaded exercises is the Turkish Get Up.

The training effect will be profound and significant.  

Each exercise listed has suggested reps for that particular exercise.  

If your kettlebell is on the lighter side, which it might be, simple adjustments can be made to… 

… make lightweight feel heavier…

  •  Reducing or eliminating rest periods
  •  Slowing down the speed/tempo of exercises (check out this super slow push up)
  •  Adding reps to each exercise

In short, you can add reps, reduce, or fully eliminate rest periods or slow down the tempo of exercises to spend more time under tension. 

All of these options will increase the intensity of the work being performed. 

Note:  Some exercises are impossible to slow down.  

Swings, cleans, snatches are ballistic movements that need to be performed with explosiveness.  

Lunges, squats, deadlifts, core work, pressing, etc… can benefit from a slow tempo.

Perfect for the Home Workouts

Kettlebell and bodyweight exercises are PERFECT for home workouts.

Each workout below was created for people who are exercising at home.

I’ve been training exclusively out of my home for over 12 years, and I’ll never go back.  Learning about how to structure workouts at home can take some time, but once you get into a groove it’s really hard to return to the gym.  

Time and money savings are two HUGE reasons to exercise at home.

If you have a gym membership, including a home-based workout 1-2 days per week can save time and help accelerate your pursuit of fitness goals.  

Warming Up

Each workout should include mobility work for joint hygiene and function.  

Improving joint range of motion is a complete game-changer. 

Basic mobility drills are powerful for relieving nagging aches and pains and restoring function.  

A lot of mobility drills are bodyweight-based, so if you’re without much equipment you can still practice these and get all of the benefits.

Pretty cool. 

You came here for workouts, and workouts you’ll get.  

But if you’re in need of improving your useable range of motion (hint:  most people are), check out MyDailyMobility for daily workouts.

Workout #1:

8 Half Get Ups

8 Goblet Squats

8 Kettlebell Diamond Push-Ups

8 Bent Over Rotary Rows

8 Single-Leg Deadlift 

8 Burpees

Workout #2: 

Snatch

Clean-Squat-Press

Reverse Lunge

Split Stance Rows

Optional:  active rest using jumping jacks

 

Workout #3:

Squat to Press

Plank Rows

Hollow Body Rocks

Split Squat Jumps

Swings

 

Bonus Workout Finisher

Anything left in the tank?  

Give this workout finisher a shot… 

10 Push-Ups

10 Right Single Leg Hip Lifts

10 Left Single Leg Hip Lifts

The goal is to complete 100 reps of each exercise, as quickly as possible.

Perform 10 push-ups, then 10 right hip lifts, then 10 left hip lifts, then back to 10 push-ups.  Make sense?  

FULL RANGE OF MOTION REPS ONLY.

Don’t stop until 100 reps are achieved.  

A lot of people could benefit from more glute work, especially hip extension.  All that sitting has deflated our asses and has a looking like 🐢 ‘s.

Fill out those jeans 👖. 

Single leg hip lifts can be performed with back on the floor, or, back elevated on a couch, chair, coffee table or wood plyo box.  

The first few rounds will feel easy, but rounds 7-8-9-10 gets intense. 

Push-ups and hip lifts are non-competing exercises, so ramp up the intensity and do your best to complete 100 reps without stopping.

Anticipate a wildfire 🔥 starting in your ass cheeks, chest, and arms.

Want more home workout options?

✅ Check out these posts:

👉 Learn more about movement flow!

👉 Turkish Get Ups Kick Ass

👉 Home Workout Options

 

Home Workouts! Bodyweight Flow to Challenge Balance, Mobility and Endurance

Motion

Bodyweight training can (and probably should) be the foundation of any home workout.

No matter where you go, what equipment is or isn’t available, bodyweight based exercise is a card that can be ALWAYS be played.

There many ways to design and organize a bodyweight workout.  

Varying the tempo, joint range of motion, training on one leg, changing levels, balancing, transitions between exercises are all ways to keep bodyweight training fresh and effective.

Today’s workout is non-traditional, imagine that. 

If Yoga, locomotion, and calisthenics got together, partied and made a baby, this flow would be the result.

Flow training is like a more dynamic form of Yoga.  

I find myself sharing a lot of slow-tempo movements and flow sequences on YouTube and Instagram.  

Subconsciously, it might be a knee-jerk reaction to counterbalance all of the high-intensity training videos out there.  

Removing momentum from movements can reveal strengths and weaknesses with regard to what positions and motions you own versus what you don’t.  

Here’s the bodyweight flow:

This flow is designed to be mirrored on the right and left side and can be performed as a warm-up or as the workout itself.  Changing legs on the single-leg squat will keep you alternating sides. 

If you choose to use it as a workout, set a timer and keep working for the duration non-stop.  

Aim for 20 minutes.  If you get 20 minutes, go to 25 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.  

You’ll be exhausted (in a positive way) moving like this for long periods, and it might be an eye-opening shift away from high-intensity training.  

Muscles will fatigue and heart rate will elevate, even though you’re moving slow and steady.  

This flow is low-impact on the joints but does require a decent amount of joint mobility. 

Focus on momentum free movement.  

Especially with the modified hip CARs (controlled articular rotations).  Do your best to ONLY articulate the hip joint without changing posture to do so.  Obviously, in the video, I’m moving elsewhere but the goal is to keep the movement at the hip.

CARs are incredible for joint health, especially the hips which are supposed super mobile, but oftentimes aren’t.

Most people lack mobility at key joints like the hip, which forces other joints to try and pick up the slack, but so commonly ends up creating greater issues (aches, pains, injury).  

MyDailyMobility.com is a really good follow along resource to keep up with daily mobility work.  The guys upload new workouts all the time.  Last time I checked they had 5 months’ worth of workouts for customers.

Similar to resistance training (muscle) and cardio (endurance), mobility must be practiced consistently for maintenance and improvement.

Use it or lose it.

[You can see me lose balance returning to the single-leg stance.  I could have reshot the video and uploaded a perfect rep, but I decided to keep the original because this flow will test your balance.]

After the single-leg deadlift (Warrior 3 to the Yoga peeps) descending to the floor gracefully is the next order of business.  While this flow is controlled, learning how to fall is a skill people could really benefit from, especially older folks.  

Lowering down to the floor stress your pushing muscles and core.  You’re basically hitting the brakes on the way down, and stepping on the gas to stand back up.  

Lastly, expect the final move to make you cramp at the hips.  It’s aggressive.  Squat down, lift the hovering leg as high as possible and REACH.  

Find the floor, transition through the middle and get deep into the Cossack squat.  

Flow completed.  

Stand up and start over.  

Movement sequences like this are perfect for a home workout.  

No equipment is needed, it’s just bodyweight, balance, expressing strength and mobility while flowing into and out of various body positions.  

🤔 Want to make this flow harder?  Add a weight vest,slow down the tempo ever more or speed up the tempo and move quicker.  

👉 Make sure to check out more M(EAUX)TION fitness content on Instagram and YouTube.  

Home Gym Workouts! Total Body Sandbag Circuit for Fat Loss and Muscle

Motion

Today’s workout is a short (but effective) total-body sandbag circuit.

Major movement patterns only:

👉 Push

👉 Pull 

👉 Squat

👉 Modified Hip Hinge

👉 Core 

Before the Workout: MOBILITY

Before the workout, I like to work on mobility.  

Mobility training IS strength training. 

Everyone can reap the benefits from improving joint mobility. 

Here’s a mobility sequence that’ll prime the hips for the workout ahead while humbling your ego. 🔥 

Check out MyDailyMobility for more mobility torture

The Workout

6 bent over rows

6 modified dragon squats

15 loaded hip lifts

8 floor presses

6 curl-ups to eccentric dragon flags

✅  5-6 rounds

✅  Rest periods:  45-90 seconds

⏰ This workout will take 18-22 minutes to complete.  

22 minutes of time invested to train the entire body is not bad. The sheer amount of work and incomplete rest periods will test your cardio as well. 

Workouts DO NOT need to be super long, or packed with the lastest and greatest fancy exercises to be effective. 

Short burst, higher intensity efforts using time tested exercises will deliver a potent training effect.

The intensity of this resistance training workout will put you on track to losing fat and gaining muscle.

Post-workout, the key is to pay attention to nutrition and hydration to leverage the effort of the workout.  

Don’t waste the effort!

Get a good night’s sleep and get ready to attack tomorrow’s session. 

Sandbag Training at Home

Sandbags are perfect for the home gym and have a lot of uses.  

Common exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges and body rows can be enhanced dramatically via loading up with a sandbag.  

Progressive loading is vital to building strength.

Heavier sandbags can be used as an anchor point for quality core training.  Grip the handles and get to work. 

Click👆 image to see Instagram post 

On that note, I prefer loading push-ups with a sandbag versus weight plates.  Sandbags mold themselves to your back and do not slide off like weight plates.  

Shimmying the sandbag up, over and onto your back requires some effort.  It’s good to be a DIY’er.

Watch this video to see what I mean.

When it comes to loading a push up with barbell weight plates, I wish you the best of luck flipping them onto your back.  One is doable, two is tough.  Balancing a weight stack on your back can be annoying and take away from the exercise. 

Power training with a sandbag.  While awkward at times, power training with a sandbag is pretty realistic if you think about it.  Sandbags move a lot differently than a barbell, and the effort translates really well into the real world.  

Although sandbags generally have several different handle options, the fabric of sandbags is tough to grip.  

Sandbags are odd-shaped to begin with and they tend to change shape during exercise.  You’re constantly adjusting to the shift in shape. 

Pro Tip:  Overstuffing a sandbag diminishes the shape-shifting benefits of sandbag training.  Leave adequate space inside the outer shell for the inner bags to move around.  

Carrying a heavy sandbag with a bear hug grip cannot be performed with iron, nor can shouldering exercises. Both of which are total body efforts and will drain energy from your soul.

Click 👆image above to view Instagram post

I use and value barbell lifts, but I’ve never had to lift any object outside of the controlled gym environment ergonomically shaped with perfect weight distribution  like a barbell.  

It just doesn’t happen.

On the other hand, sandbags are a bear fight every single time.  Each repetition is a wrestling match, similar to the giant cardboard box Fed Ex dropped at my door.  

Drag, flip, toss, throw, slam.  Several fitness companies sell super durable outer sandbag shells that allow for throwing, tossing, slamming, dragging and flipping.  

🖐 Pushing or dragging a sandbag will reduce the lifespan of the bag, especially on rougher surfaces.  Regardless, sandbags can be pushed and dragged.

Save your floors. Sandbags will not destroy surfaces the way iron will when dropped.  Sandbag training is also “neighbor-friendly” from a noise perspective since it’s a “soft” training tool. 

 

More Home Gym Workouts!

👉 10-minute circuits

👉 31 Exercises to Stay Fit

👉 Beginner Lizard Crawl Exercise Variations

 

Home Gym Workouts! 10 Minute Circuit Training

home gym

Today’s home gym workout is all about simplicity. 

Keeping it simple, is keeping it effective. 

Turkish Get-Ups, crawling, traveling squats and lunges, push-ups, rolling are all included in the 10 minute mini-circuits of the session.  

Get ready to dirty your shirt.  

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the exercises mentioned above, please head over to my YouTube channel and perform a search using those terms.  

Always, always, always learn movement mechanics of new exercises while fresh and in an isolated fashion.  

Learning an exercise in isolation means you’re repping out that exercise with the basic work-then-rest approach.  Perform specific reps for a number of sets, rest, then attack the exercise again. 

Fatigue can be managed with this approach, allowing movement precision to become the prime focus. 

No one is above learning movements in isolation.  

The exercise’s degree of difficulty might change from person to person depending on fitness level (beginners versus elite movers), but the approach is the same.  

Learn new movements in isolation, code the movement into your system, do what you want from there. 

Workout Structure

The full workout consists of 3 x 10-minute sections, each with a different movement emphasis.

You can execute all 10-minute sections, or perform 1 or 2 depending on your space, equipment and time.  

Movement Emphasis

    • Workset #1: Turkish Get-Ups
    • Workset #2: Traveling Squats and Lizard Crawl
    • Workset #3: High Plank Step-Squat-Reach-Roll Flow

The goal is to perform the work non-stop 10 minutes with minimal rest.

Of course, movement quality is king, so if rest is needed take it to preserve the quality of each repetition.  

10 minutes is the target exertion time.  If you need to reduce the working time for each section, please do so.  Start with a duration you can tolerate, any amount of time is better than doing nothing.  👊 

After completing a 10-minute section, grab a drink, towel off the sweat and get ready for the next section.  Don’t waste time. 

Equipment List:

OMG!!! I need equipment?!?!

Not all workouts require equipment, but this one does, sorry… 

    •  * Kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, etc (weight for Turkish Get-Ups)
    •  Bodyweight
    •  12-15 feet of straight-away space

🤷‍♂️ If you don’t have any weights, find any object of reasonable shape and weight laying around the house that can add weight to the Turkish Get-Ups.  

Get creative, it can be anything.  A loaded backpack, children who are durable, a pet with a calm demeanor.  

At the end of this post, I’ve included equipment shopping options.

 

Set #1: Turkish Get-Ups

No secret sauce here.  

Turkish Get Ups are one of the best exercises on the planet. 

Stand up and lay back down for 10 minutes, alternating sides each rep. 

Turkish Get-Ups are a total body exercise and 10 minutes of continuous Turkish Get Ups is total body cardio conditioning.

Ideally, you’d have access to several different weights to switch it up.  Start by using a lighter weight, bumping up the load every 3 minutes or so.  End this 10-minute section with the heaviest load you have.

If you only have one weight, just use that.  You’ll get a good enough training effect.

I prefer to use kettlebells for Turkish Get-Ups, but I’ve used many other gym tools with success.  Dumbbells or sandbags can be used to add load to the Turkish Get Ups.

 

Set #2: Traveling Squats + Lizard Crawl

I love integrating isolated exercises into circuits.

Once you own a movement pattern, the options for using that movement pattern become limitless.

In the video, I’m traveling back and forth across a 15-foot distance.  

From right to left, I use a descending modified dragon squat, uncrossing the legs and standing up with a Cossack squat to shimmy across the room.  

After reaching the wall, I return to the start position with the king of locomotion patterns, the lizard crawl.  

Turn around, switch sides, repeat.

Dragon Squat.  The dragon squat is going to be a bit too aggressive of an exercise for a lot of people.  

Here are exercises to substitute:

👉  Walking Lunge (forward or backward)

👉  Lateral Lunge

Lizard Crawl.  If you’ve never tried a full lizard crawl, a work capacity circuit isn’t the time or place to dabble.  The lizard crawl is an aggressive pattern best learned fresh. 

I suggest regressing the crawling pattern to one of the following:

👉  Forward/Backward Crawl

👉  Lateral Crawl

👉  Bear Walk

 

Set #3: High Plank Step-Squat-Reach-Roll Flow

This simple ground-based flow includes a few common exercises (push-ups, sit-ups) along with uncommon ground-based flow movements (crab reach, rolling).

For some, this might be the first introduction into integrated movement conditioning.

Moving your body naturally through space.  

This isn’t your basic “jogging in place, knees to elbows, shadow boxing fitness” circuit.  

It’s bodyweight and movement, which will likely be humbling for a lot of people, including those who spend a lot of time resistance training in the gym.  

You’ll feel the difference between natural movement and linear exercise while training like this.  

During this work set, focus on smoothing out the transitions between each exercise.  Make the entire sequence look like it’s fused together into a single unit.  

I’ve got a semi-truck load of flow videos on YouTube.  

 

 🛒 Need Equipment?

5 years ago, I wouldn’t have referred anyone to Amazon for fitness equipment.

Today, Amazon is one of the best options to buy fitness equipment.  Prime Shipping is hard to beat for shipping heavy gym equipment directed to your home fast.  

👉 Kettlebells

👉 Kettle Gryp (converts a dumbbell to a kettlebell)

👉 Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbell (cost and space effective dumbbell)

Give each of these mini-workouts a try, leave a comment, ask questions, keep grinding folks!

How to Make Turkish Get Ups More Challenging

Kettlebell Training

The Turkish Get Up is not only one of the premier kettlebell exercises, but one of the best exercises on the planet.

In the past, I’ve done my best to avoid playing favorites with exercises, but if I could only choose one exercise, it would be Turkish Get Ups. 

Blending total body strength, joint range of motion, movement transitions, functionality and options to modify for a cardio training effect, the Turkish Get Up exercise checks a lot of boxes all in one shot.  

In this article, I’m going to share how to add exercises to an already complex exercise, to make it, well, more complex.  

Many Exercises Rolled Into One

Boiled down, a single repetition of Turkish Get Up is made up of a diagonal crunch, modified lateral plank, hip lift, kneeling windmill, lunge, and static overhead carry.

Every pattern listed is performed concentrically and eccentrically.   

Start in a lying position.  Roll up to the elbow, then the hand.  Lift the hips, bring the leg underneath, windmill up to kneeling.  Lunge to stand up.  Reverse the flow.  

The only major movement pattern Turkish Get Ups don’t really address is upper body pulling.  

Non-issue.  

I’ll show you how to include bent-over rows to get your pulling work in.  

There is an infinite number of ways to reorganize traditional Turkish Get Ups without losing the incredible benefits of the exercise.  

Since the main positions of Turkish Get Ups include lying, kneeling and standing, we can slip exercises into each of these positions to create a brand new movement challenge.  

Here are some examples of exercises that can be added to the traditional Turkish Get Up pattern to increase the movement complexity.

Turkish Get Ups w/ Cleans, Pressing, Squats and Z-Press

Once in a standing position, the exercise options are limitless.  

The kettlebell clean and press is a staple combination.  Descending down to the floor with an offset loaded kettlebell front squat gives the body a dose of asymmetric loading.  

Once seated, get tight and press the kettlebell overhead.  

Expect the Z-Press to be the limiting exercise with regard to weight selection.  

Pressing from this position is far more strict compared to other overhead press variations.   

 

Turkish Get Ups w/ Cossack Squats and 1-Arm Swings

I place a high value on being able to squat in different ways.  

People have beaten the mechanics of the basic bilateral squat to death.  

Cossack Squats require pretty aggressive hip mobility and strength in an uncommon pattern that a lot of people just don’t train.  The adductors will be singing.  

Once standing, the hand-to-hand 1 Arm Swings deliver a short burst dose of loaded conditioning and indirect core training.

Turkish Get Ups w/ Squats

Normally, Turkish Get Ups are performed with a lunge to stand and return to the lying position.  This variation removes the lunge completely, using squats instead.

Caution:  Must have sufficient shoulder/t-spine mobility and stability for this.  

 

Turkish Get Ups w/ Bent Rows

One knock against calling Turkish Get Ups a “total body exercise” is the lack of upper body pulling.  This variation provides a solution by including bent over rows.

 

Turkish Get Ups w/ Pistol Squats and Z-Press

Pistol squats, the slang description for unsupported single leg balance squats, are one of the best squat variations I know.

Improving single leg performance is great for sport and daily living.

At the halfway point, it’s time to return to the floor.  This variation leverages an overloaded eccentric pistol squat for the descent mechanism, which is pretty challenging and effective way to return the ass to the ground.

Once settled, press the kettlebell overhead with a strict Z-Press.

In my own training…

… I engage in exclusive Turkish Get Up workouts several days per week.  

To be clear, the “work” part of these workouts ONLY includes Turkish Get Ups, nothing else.  

Mobility exercises come first to prime my body.  

I pull out the kettlebells, set the timer, turn on the music and start moving.  

These sessions start with a lighter weight kettlebell, gradually bumping up in weight every 4-5 minutes.  

I like to finish the session with a heavy kettlebell, testing my will, focus and ability to stay organized physically while the fuel tank runs low.

Controlled movement while under fatigue is an underlying goal of most of my training.  Explore new movements while fresh, morph the basics for conditioning and mental tests. 

Yes, these sessions can be monotonous, but they are free of bullshit and any unnecessary exhaustive decision making in the gym.  

The work is non-stop.  I’ll take rest for a sip of water and to towel off the sweat, but always getting right back into the work.

Fatigue is going to set in as time passes.  This is understood and accepted.  

When the body becomes fatigued, movement quality degrades.  

Maintain awareness about how fatigue impacts movement, blurs the mind-body connection and also how to continue moving with quality.

If rest is needed, it is taken.   

Expanding movement capacity is best done while fresh.  But don’t forget how to program your body to move well when tired.  

The key is to know thyself, which means knowing your current fitness level and when you’re about to overstep your capacity to exercise safely.  

 

General Tips/Insight/Common Sense

The question of “how many reps should I do” varies greatly from person to person.

I prefer to set a timer (anywhere from 10-20 minutes) and begin working.  You might only be able to go for 5 minutes.  Who cares.  Celebrate the effort and build on it.  

Focus on QUALITY repetitions.  Take breaks as needed to execute quality reps.

Despite the soul-sucking marathon workouts found in at-home DVD’s, magazines and on social media, it’s unnecessary to beat yourself into a pulp every single workout.  

Deliver a potent dosage of movement, get on with your day.  Rest, recover, regenerate, grow stronger. 

Learn each add-on movement in an isolated fashion.  Do not Z-Press in the middle of a Turkish Get Up having never performed a Z-Press before.  Do not attempt swings, cleans, rows, etc… having not practiced each of these exercises in isolation.

Make sense? 

Always dabble with light weight first.  Playing with new movement combinations while flinging a heavy kettlebell increases the risk of disaster.  We can mitigate the risk of injury by using lighter, more manageable weight.   

Again… move with quality.  There’s a time and place for high intensity, balls to the wall, aggressive exercise with a little less emphasis on precise movement.  

Turkish Get Ups are not an exercise to rush through. Embrace the slow, meticulous grind.  Move with purpose, grace, soft hand/foot touches and strength in transitions.  

Breathe. 

Don’t forget to breathe. 

A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part III

Motion

Need water?  A cigarette 🚬 ?  Struggling to stay awake 😴 ?

Yeah, me too.  

If you made it this far, you’ve read through 30 different core exercises. 

Congrats, you’re in an elite group, primed with knowledge.

Brace yourself for exercises 31-48.  

Here. We. Go.

31.  Rotational Throws

The human body must be able to produce force and resist forces acting on it.  Rotation is a missing component of a lot of workout programs. 

Our bodies move through a ton of rotational patterns in sport and daily living. 

Don’t necessarily reach for the heaviest weighted ball. 

10lb, 12lb a 15lb medicine ball is plenty heavy. 

I like this style of medicine ball.

3-5 sets of 5-8 throws per side (ideally early in the workout the body is fresh).

32.  Chops and Lifts

Chops and Lifts are two simple (not easy) exercises that most people will find they: 

a) struggle to execute on either side (even with lightweight).

b) can only successfully do on one side, not the other (even with lightweight)

There are many different positions to perform Chops and Lifts in, but the inline position is one of the most humbling. 

Assume a half-kneeling position (one knee down, one knee up). 

Place the down knee directly behind the heel of the up leg.  So, make a straight line with your up and down legs. 

Chopping or Lifting once in this position is dramatically more difficult. 

33.  Anti-Rotation Press Outs

Training rotation is often forgotten yet a HUGE part of everyday movement.  One of the core’s important functions is to brace against forces acting upon it. 

Stretching a resistance band under tension, pressing the hands out away from the body, you’re calibrating the core to resist rotational forces. 

3-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions.  

Hold each rep (elbows extended)  for 2-3 seconds.  Add time as needed. 

34.  Single-Arm Push-Ups

Everyone is fanatical about something, and I am fanatical about the value of single-arm push-ups.

To get started here, allow me to say that single-arm push-ups are not a circus exercise only for the flashy calisthenics athlete.  They are for EVERYONE.  Follow the progressions and you can make great gains with upper body pressing strength, stability, and range of motion. 

Single-arm push-ups are a fully scalable movement for a beginner.  A beginner can make single arm push ups more approachable by executing from a kneeling position, hands elevated on stairs/bench/plyo box or by wrapping a resistance band around the chest to reduce the loading. 

All of these regressions will build strength while moving you closer to a full single arm push up. 

I have found single arm push-ups to be one of the best upper body pressing exercises available.

35.  Atomic Push-Ups

There is a time and place for isolated core work, and at some point, you realize that all exercises are “core work” on some level.  So if you can add a push up to a knee tuck, do it. 

The key to the knee tuck in this exercise is lifting the butt/hips to the ceiling, as high as possible, to make room for the knees tucking in toward the elbows. 

3-5 sets of 6-15 reps

36.  Core Smash

Core smash = intense core flexion contraction. 

Lay face-up on the floor. 

Place hands on the side of the head (fingertips just behind the ears), slowly bring your knees to meet your elbows, pressing elbow into the knees as hard as you can. 

Hold it there, think of something other than the cramp brewing in your mid-section.

The set ends when the elbows lose contact with the knees. 

Aim for brief holds at first, extending the duration as you gain strength. 

37.  Arch Body

The core is not only on the front of the body, easily seen in the mirror.  It wraps around your body like a weight belt.  Hard to see in the mirror, the glutes and spinal erectors are crucial for human performance, body health, and injury mitigation. 

Arch body exercise is the opposite of the Hollow Body exercise.  Chest down on the floor, you’re going to create a pronounced U-Shape by lifting the arms/back/hamstrings and heels. 

Many will feel weak during the arch body, cramping, etc.  It’s ok.  Hold as long as you can, rest and repeat. 

Hammer the front side, hammer the backside. 

38.  Hollow Body High Plank or Push Ups

Assume a high plank position (aka the top of a push up), roll your pelvis under, arch your spine and protect your shoulder blades to make as pronounced of a “U-Shape” as possible. 

Hold there and embrace the suck, because it’s a highly rewarding position but a sucky position at first.  The hollow body position is fundamental for many more difficult gymnastics based movements.    

Beginner level gymnastics posture here.  Very humbling. 

39.  Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot

Stability balls are naturally unstable.  So, putting the elbows on the stability ball to perform a plank creates a wobbly situation.  Now, add a circular motion with the elbows as if you were stirring a giant pot of soup. 

Why do this exercise?  Because adding more time to a marathon length standard plank is not what most people need.  More time doesn’t mean greater gains.  At some point, especially with planks, make them harder. 

One way to make them harder is to add a dynamic movement to a fundamental stability exercise. 

 

40.  Suspension Trainer Pendulums

Slip your feet into the loops of a suspension train or gymnastics rings, turn over and assume a high plank position (top of a push up).  The feet are now suspended while the upper body is supporting. 

Initiate a side to side motion pendulum motion from the waist on down by activating the hands/arms/torso.  Grip the ground hard and swing the legs without breaking at the low back, hips, knees. 

This is a very non-traditional exercise that will blow up your mid-section.  Expect oblique soreness in the days that follow.

3-5 sets of higher repetitions, maybe 10-20 per side.

41.  Core Compression Pulses

Core compression pulses are a beginner level gymnastics exercise, which in itself is humbling to think about. 

To do them, sit on the floor, upper body erect and legs straight out in front of you. 

Place hands on the outsides of the thighs, pressing into the ground for assistance as you lift each leg entirely off of the ground, pulsing up and down. 

Lift the legs as high as possible without rocking, bending the knees or compensating to do so. 

Core compression pulses are a high repetition exercise, but beginners don’t be surprised if you’re only able to get 3, 4 or maybe 5 before form breaks or cramping commences.

I like to work these early in the workout, before any other lifting or cardio because they are so demanding and isolating the motion is important.  3-5 sets of 4-20+ reps. 

42.  Loaded Carrying Variations

Loaded carries are incredible for core development and total body tension. 

For the functional fanatic in all of us who want every minute of strength work and cardio exercise to translate to real-world scenarios, is there any other mode of exercise more functional than carrying objects of varying weights, texture, shapes and sizes (not to mention carrying in various positions) from Point A to Point B?

Personally, I do not think so.

43.  Lizard Crawl + Push or Pull

Perform a lizard crawl while pushing or pulling an object of weight.  Simple as that. 

I hesitated to include this hybrid exercise but ultimately felt that people who can Lizard Crawl proficiently would enjoy adding a brutal push or pull to the exercise.

A sandbag on carpet or a hard floor surface, a kettlebell, dumbbell or weight plate can all be used as the equipment for the push and pull. 

I’ve used all of these tools with success, but I prefer using a sandbag on carpet or hardwood. 

44.  Spinal Waves

It’s been said, “we are as old as our spines”.

The spine is our life force and if we cannot move it when we need to, it is likely to become a problem down the road. 

Exercise tips:  Soft pump the wall for 100-200 reps most days of the week. 

Sounds like too much?  200 reps of spinal wave take less than 5 minutes and your body will thank you for the movement. 

45.  Standing Spine CAR’s

Lock in the hips, hug yourself and articulate in a circular fashion as if you were trying to dodge pushes from a boxer.  Say hello to controlled articulations and their ability to wake up the obliques.  Brace and breathe. 

46.  Hip CAR’s

Assume a quadruped position with hands, knees, and feet in contact with the floor.  Raise your leg out to the side of your body as high as possible, pretend like you’re a dog about to pee on a fire hydrant.  Be mindful to keep your shin bone parallel with the floor, which means your foot doesn’t move higher or lower than your knee.  

[The guys at MyDailyMobility.com teach controlled articulations and a lot of other effective mobility drills in their daily mobility program.  Give it a look.  Your body will thank you]

Draw a large circle with your knee (articulate) as you slowly move the knee behind the body.  This will look like the finishing position of a donkey kick.  Lower the knee back underneath the body, but don’t set it down.  Reverse the pattern. 

Many of the best “core” movements are not isolated movements, and they shouldn’t be because isolating the “core” is not how humans operate. 

47. Movement 20XX Kick Throughs

Side Kick Through’s are a basic movement element in Movement 20XX, resembling a break dancing type move.

Movement 20XX is a bodyweight focused, ground-based movement system packed with performance and restorative movement patterns. 

Begin in a quadruped position, hands and feet supporting the body (knees hover 1-2 inches off the floor). 

Rotate to one side by pivoting on the ball of the foot, opening up your chest to the side you’re turning toward. 

Slide the trailing leg through and “kick” it through until fully extended. 

While the leg kicks through, pull the opposite arm/hand back as if you were drawing back a bow and arrow. 

48.  Movement 20XX Supine Reach

This exercise is LOADED WITH BENEFITS. 

Posterior chain activation, controlled rotation of the torso, elongation of the often shortened muscles of the core.

This benefits of this exercise are plentiful:

  Opens up the torso and chest in a diagonal pattern (far hip to far shoulder)

  Challenges and improves shoulder stability on the loaded working arm

  Opens up the hips anteriorly

  Activates the posterior chain (gluten/hamstrings) moving into extension.

  Uncommon position (head and eyes get a different look at the world)

The End.  

 

 

A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part II

Core Training

You made it!  

What follows is the sequel of the original A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part I

Feast your eyes on exercises 16-30. 

16.  Sandbag Training

Sandbags are a shape-changing piece of fitness equipment capable of building raw strength and conditioning.  

*** Exercising with objects of varying textures is a subtle detail that can really take the functionality of your workouts to another level.   

Sandbags do not have a great texture.  They naturally want to slip through your fingertips and slither out of the bear hug.  

This is part of the value of training with sandbag… the fight!

Every repetition with a sandbag is a fight. 

The clean-squat-press exercise is a classic sandbag combination.  

* Tip:  Do not overstuff the sandbag.  Over-stuffing the outer shell with filler bags reduces the instability component.  More space inside the outer shell means greater instability and shape-changing during exercises.

To build raw strength, load up the sandbag and grind through squats, presses, carrying and pulling exercise just as you would with a barbell or any other strength-based tool.  

17.  Slow Mountain Climber Variations

Yoga often refers to this exercise as “knee to nose”. 

The prone position (chest down) is a disadvantaged position for the body to make this happen. 

Arch the back and hollow out, push the shoulder blade out and back (protract) and slowly bring one knee up as far as you possibly can. 

18.  Weighted Plank Variations

If you can successfully dominate bodyweight-only planks, add weight and try the same variation.  It will be harder.  If you’re a go-getter, figure out how to put the weight on your back by yourself.  At the present moment, I don’t yet own a weight vest.   I am not sure why, but I don’t.  So, I shimmy a heavy sandbag onto my back and hold planks while balancing the sandbag.  The process of getting the sandbag onto my back is a workout in itself. 

19.  Tuck Planche 

Tucking the thighs tight to the stomach while supporting bodyweight using only the arms.  It’s a difficult task with many regressions to make the task more palatable.   

The tuck planche requires core compressional strength and eventually endurance as the duration of the hold increases. 

20.  Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Core training in a standing position on a body of water in the sunshine?  Yes, please. 

The first couple of strokes on a stand-up paddleboard is all of the proof you’ll need to understand how active the core is while exerting on a SUP

Core strength is essential for moving the board through the water. 

21.  Sleep

Zzzzzzzzzz. 

The benefits of 7-8+ hours of quality sleep are very important for body composition, daily function, mental clarity as well as recovery and regeneration from the stresses of exercise.  

Yet, the value of sleep remains largely unknown and underemphasized.

We also live in a world where sleep deprivation is worn like a badge of honor.  

In my dreams, the world corrects and we revert back to celebrating the power of sleep. 

I won’t pretend to be a sleep expert, but I have an understanding of how “off” my body and mind feel when I don’t get an adequate amount of sleep.

If you’d like to learn more about sleep in a super entertaining, yet informative interview, check out Joe Rogan’s interview with guest Dr. Matthew Walker.  The link to this episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast can be found here. 

Dr. Walker has also written a fantastic book on all things related to sleep, “Why We Sleep:  Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams”.

22.  Kettlebell Swings (variations)

All movements are core movements. 

Kettlebell swings, while not a direct core exercise, work primarily the trunk, hip and hamstring muscles. 

Entire books and training programs have been designed to teach the value of kettlebell swings and how swings can improve power, cardio conditioning, strength, and body composition. 

Nutrition is king for fat loss and body composition, but if I were forced to hand-select a few exercises to simultaneously burn fat and build muscle, I’d got with a steady practice of kettlebell swings and Turkish Get Ups. 

Listen to Pavel Psatsouline (the godfather of kettlebells) talk about kettlebell training extensively on The Joe Rogan Experience.

23.  Dead Bugs

Ly on your back with chest facing the ceiling, actively press your low back into the floor (curling your pelvis back neutral/posterior), lock arms and legs in the extension point them toward the ceiling. 

Slowly lower opposite arm/ opposite leg to the floor to start the movement.

Ideally, you’ll make soft contacts with the floor or stop 1-3 inches above, and come back to the start position.  However, use an abbreviated range of motion if you feel your pelvis shifting to make up for lack of control. 

Imagine a full glass of water in a skinny tall glass balancing at the navel region (or just above) while you move the extremities, yet keep the torso “quiet” and still. 

A lot of the exercises in this article have some room for technique deviation.  But in my opinion, strict technique is only way to practice dead bugs. 

Alternate each side for repetitions.  3-5 sets x 8-20 repetitions. 

24.  “Twisted Tea” from the #OMU (Instagram)

This is my new favorite “core” obsession because it lacks the dull robotic range of motion that many gym exercises have.  

I have to give credit to the “#OMU” crew on Instagram for introducing me to this multi-planar core drill. 

Assume a high plank position with arm extended out in front of the body. 

“Draw” the largest circle possible, spiraling down to the floor, reaching in and out of the legs, etc. 

When you reach the endpoint, reverse the motion and take it back to the start position. 

Each rep is extremely long, challenging and very interesting. 

So far, I have only used a 2.5lb and 5lb weight plate on this drill, and my obliques were sore for days after. 

25. Overhead Loaded Squats

Basic exercises become increasingly difficult when weight is overhead, which raises the center of gravity and requires more joints to contribute to the activity. 

The overhead position is challenging for a lot of people, often due to having stiff upper backs (thoracic spines) and stiff/unstable shoulders. 

Again, positioning weight overhead raises the center of gravity causing the torso to lengthen.  The core muscles make the adjustment and work overtime to stabilize the body. 

The overhead position is very challenging for the joints, moving from the shoulders to mid-back, to hips, to knees and finally down to the ankles.  Each joint must have adequate mobility and stability to control the weight overhead. 

Overhead squats are a fantastic exercise and therefore worth mentioning on this list, but they are also the exercise with the most pre-requisites.  Make sure you’ve done your mobility and stability work before slinging weight overhead. 

One way to observe your readiness is to practice overhead squats with a wooden dowel… and film your technique. 

26.  Windmills 

This is a classic, often forgotten kettlebell drill. 

The weight is supported overhead with elbow locked (but soft).  Hips are pushed to the side while the upper body lowers to the floor.  Softly touch the free hand to the floor and return to the starting position. 

Windmills are one of those movements I program infrequently, but I really see value in establishing motor control and know-how. 

In a real-world setting, we won’t always be perfectly vertical while supporting objects overhead.  Sometimes, we have to bend, twist and hinge while maintaining control from shoulder to elbow to hand. 

27.  Janda Sit Ups

I do not program sit-ups in my own training regimen and also do not prescribe for others. 

I feel there are FAR better uses of gym time. 

However… Janda Sit Ups will numb your soul.  You’ll hear angels singing and see the face of God during every set of Janda Sit-Ups.

Janda Sit Ups help to further isolate the rectus abdominals by reducing hip flexor contribution during each sit up.  This means the abdominals are responsible for doing more work.

The effectiveness of the Janda Sit Up is all in the setup and technique.  While a training partner is good to have for these, I do think Janda Sit Ups are possible to execute alone using a well-placed stretch resistance band. 

With the knees at roughly 90 degrees and heels on the floor, anchor a resistance band (at knee height or slightly above) around squat rack, door, piece of furniture or anything else sturdy.

Stretch the band out and wrap it around your calves, 3-4 inches above your ankles.  The band should have some stretch loaded into it, which will require your glutes and hamstrings to actively pull against the band during the sit-ups. 

You’ll have to play around with the band height and tension until you find a sweet spot.

Before and during the sit-up action, contract the glutes and hamstrings to initiate reciprocal inhibition of the hip flexors.

My first couple of experiences with Janda Sit Ups resulted in a level of muscle soreness that humbled me to my core (no pun intended). 

The first couple of reps it’s hard to know if you’re doing it correctly, but in general, if you have the sensation of not being able to peel your back off the floor to sit up, you’re on the right track. 

28.  Hanging Knee Tucks 

Hanging Knee Tucks kill a few birds with one stone.

First, hanging for extended periods of time builds grip strength/endurance, provides traction for the spine, stability for the shoulders. 

Second, the motion of raising the knees up to parallel with the waistline (or ideally above) is a challenging exercise for the core, particularly the lower abdominals.

I prefer to do fewer repetitions, opting for longer duration holds with the knees tucked.  Aim for 5-10 seconds per hold, with 5-8 reps of a longer duration holds will have your abdominals and grip burning. 

Looking for a burn out session?  Simply hang from the bar with knees tucked until something about the exercise fails (grip, core, etc)

29.  Zercher Sandbag Squats

Hooking the arms under a sandbag is both a bicep scorcher and a worthy challenge for the core as it battles to maintain body position, even in a non-moving static position. 

Add a squat and the difficulty is increased.   

30.  Explosive Flexion Slams

Slamming a weighted ball on the ground is essentially explosive Olympic Lifting for your core.  The lats also get a nice stimulus during flexion slams. 

Power development in all planes of movement is a great thing. 

If you’re going to do flexion slams, consider using a no rebound ball, versus slamming a ball that re-arranges your face. 

Done.

This concludes Part II of the giant list of core exercises. 

✅ Check out the finale 👉 A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part III