Core Workouts At Home: 21 Exercises You Can Do In 20-Min

core workouts at home

If you are looking to build a stronger core, you don’t need access to much equipment.  

In fact, we’ve consulted both personal trainers and professional sport coaches, and asked them whether it was possible to build a core at home, in less than 20-minutes, and they all said ‘yes’.   

The key is to ensure that you’re selecting the most effective core exercises (hint: not just doing sit-ups), and then executing them with the proper technique.  

Below, we cover over 21 of the best core exercises that you can do from home, as well as give you three sample at-home core workouts that you can do in 20-minutes or less.  

With the Fitbod app, you can easily integrate all 21 exercises discussed below into a core workout program that will continually progress and challenge you week after week. Download the Fitbod app today and try free workouts to start building your next core workouts.

What Are The Core Muscles You Should Work Out At Home?

The core muscles are a group of muscles that help stabilize and promote movement in the torso. 

The term “core muscles” includes muscle groups such as: 

  • Abdominals:  This is your traditional “6-pack” area, and is responsible for flexing the spine and not overextending the torso.
  • Obliques: These are the muscles on the sides of the torso and are responsible for rotating and bending side-to-side.
  • Erectors: The erectors are vertical muscles along the lower back, and are responsible for keeping the torso upright and resist hunching forwards.
  • Transverse abdominals: The transverse abdominals are deep, underlying core muscles that help support spinal stability and core strength.

An effective at-home core workout should include exercises that target each of these areas.   

Need a workout program? Try Fitbod for Free.

21 Core Exercises You Can Do At Home

The 21 best at-home core exercises are: 

Note: All 21 of the below core exercises can be found in the Fitbod app, and can be inserted into your training program complete with video tutorials and progression suggestions.  As wel, there are over 180 other core exercises in the app.  

1. Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is a crunch variation that trains both the abdominals and the obliques. This bodyweight movements can be done by most levels and requires no equipment.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with your feet straight out and arms behind the head. 
  • Pull the left knee into the torso, and touch the right elbow to the left knee by lifting your torso
  • Reverse the movement, and then repeat, alternating sides

Pro Tip: 

Lift the torso with the abs, not the arms. You can add a pause at the top to get a good contraction on the obliques.

Related Article: 15 Types of Crunches (How To Do Them + Pros & Cons)

2. Cocoon Crunch

The Cocoon crunch is a crunch variation that has you pull the legs and arms together at the top of the crunch, training the lower and upper abdominals.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with your feet straight out, and arms extended behind you
  • Pull the knees into the body, and lift your arms up and forward, towards your feet 
  • Pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower yourself.

Pro Tip: 

Slow and steady here, try no to use momentum. This is a challenging movement.

3. Crunch

The crunch is a simple and effective core exercise to target the abdominals. This can be done by all levels, and is a great ab exercises to strengthen the core while minimizing stress on the lower back.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground
  • Place your hands begging your head or across your chest
  • Lift your torso upwards, curling your body towards your knees until your lower back is almost off the floor
  • Pause at the top, then lower yourself slowly and repeat 

Pro Tip: 

Lift your torso slowly to minimize usage of momentum of the upper body assisting in the crunch.

4. Dumbbell Side Bend

The dumbbell side bend is a weighted core exercise that targets the obliques. This can be trained with both heavy weights or with lighter weights.

How To: 

  • Stand upright with a dumbbell in one hand, placing your other unweighted hand on your side
  • Laterally bend in the direction of the weighted hand, letting the dumbbell creep down the side of the leg
  • Feel the stretch on the opposite side of the torso (obliques)
  • Bend yourself in the other direction, coming back to the upright position

Pro Tip: 

As you initially bend to the weighted side, focus on feeling the stretch on the other side of the body. Those are your obliques, use them to bring you back upright.

5. Flutter Kicks

Flutter Kicks, a bodyweight exercise, targets the lower abs. By fluttering the legs as you do this, you also help increase unilateral core stability.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with both feet extended
  • Lift both legs 2-3 inches off the ground
  • Lift your left leg 4-6 inches off the ground, and then lower back down to the 2-3 inches off the ground position. 
  • Lift your right leg up, and then back down
  • Flutter back and forth your your legs hovering off the ground the entire time

Pro Tip: 

Make sure your lower back doesn’t come up off the ground (lumbar extension). If you need to, keep one leg on the ground.

6. Jackknife Sit Up

The jackknife sit up is a lot like a V-up, in that you lift your legs and arms up together to meet above the body. This is a challenging movement that combines a sit up with a leg lift.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with both feet and arms fully extended
  • Lift your legs, arms, and torso simultaneously away from the floor
  • Touch your hands to your feet or shins, above your body
  • Slowly lower yourself back down, and repeat

Pro Tip: 

Try to control the lowering phase of this movement to minimize lumbar flexion and extension and to minimize tension.

7. Leg Pull In

The Leg Pull-In, a bodyweight lying exercise, targets the lower abs and hip flexors. This can be done by pulling one leg in or both at the same time.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with both feet extended
  • Lift both legs 2-3 inches off the ground
  • Pull both knees into the body
  • Reach your legs back out away from the body, keeping them off the ground

Pro Tip: 

Keep your lower back flat against the ground. If you struggle to do this, you can keep your feet on the ground in between pull-ins.

8. Leg Raise

The leg raise is a more challenging variation of the lying leg pull in, and requires you to lift your legs upwards in a wider range of motion, hitting the entire abdominal region.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back
  • With your lower back flat on the ground, lift both legs upwards together
  • Lift your legs up until the feet are above your hips
  • Lower the legs slowly, and repeat

Pro Tip: 

You may find it helpful to push your arms down into the floor to help you stabilize your body as you lift the legs upwards

9. Oblique Crunch

This is a crunch that targets the sides of the body, and can be a great oblique movement for all levels. This requires no equipment, and is a small range of motion making it safe for most people.

How To: 

  • Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other
  • Place your top arm behind your head, and the bottom one under your head as a head rest
  • Lift your torso upwards (lateral bending of the torso), and try to touch your top elbow to your top hip
  • Pause at the top, and flex your side
  • Lower yourself under control and repeat for reps, then turn over and switch sides.

Pro Tip: 

It may be helpful to place your top hand on your obliques (top side of the body) while doing this to feel the muscles working.

10. Overhead Weighted Sit Up

The overhead weighted sit up is a challenging sit up variation that applies external load to build more muscle and core strength. The overhead weighted sit up also forces you to use your core throughout the entire range of motion, even at the tip, as you cannot relax under the weight.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with your feet on the ground, preferably anchored under something
  • Hold a weight, such as a dumbbell, kettlebell, or plate above you (as you lie on your back)
  • Reach upwards, trying to touch the sky with the weight overhead, and perform a sit up
  • At the top of the sit up, the arms should be straight and the weight should be directly overhead, with the weight above your head or slightly behind your head
  • Lower yourself slowly, and repeat

Pro Tip: 

Do not swing the weight around to aid in the movement.

11. Plank

This plank is an isometric core strengthening exercise that can be done by most levels, and requires no additional equipment. 

How To: 

  • Start at the top of the pushup position, with your legs together and arms straight.
  • Make sure your lower back is not arched
  • Push your legs together, pull the belly button into the body, and flex your abs
  • Hold this rigid position for time

Pro Tip: 

If you feel your lower back during this exercise, this suggests your lower back is arched. You need to think about pulling the front of your pelvis (lower abs) towards your belly button.

Related Article: How To Get Better at Planks (7 Tips That Actually Work)

12. Plank Jack

This dynamic plank variant has you perform a standard plank, while jumping your feet out and in to add instability to the exercise. This is a good progression for people who find planks to be too easy.

How To: 

  • Perform a standard plank
  • Jump the feet outwards so they are 1-2 feet apart
  • Jump them back together
  • Repeat, making sure that the lower back doesn’t become arched

Pro Tip: 

Fight the urge to lose tension in the core during the jumping jack aspect of the plank. The more you can control your core during the jacks, the stronger they will be.

13. Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is a lower ab exercise that can be done without additional weight and is a safe option for all levels.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent
  • Lift both feet 2-3 inches off the ground
  • Pull the knees into the body, and lift they hips upwards at the top
  • Lower your legs back to the starting position, and repeat

Pro Tip: 

Place your hands underneath your lower back for support.

14. Russian Twist

The Russian twist can be done with or without weight, and is a core exercise that targets the obliques and abdominals.

How To: 

  • Sit on the ground with your legs in front of you, bent at the knee
  • Sit upright, and hold a weight in your hands
  • Place the weight on one side of the body, and lift it to the other side, going back and forth
  • You can do Russian twists with your feet on the ground or up (having them on the ground is easier)
  • The more you recline your torso, the harder it will be

Pro Tip: 

You can anchor your feet as well if you want to really loud the twist up with weight.

15. Scissor Kick

Scissor kicks are similar to flutter kicks, but they have you lift the legs all the way to the overhead position. This is a great way to progress your flutter kicks.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with both feet extended
  • Lift both legs 2-3 inches off the ground
  • Lift your left leg all the way up so that it is above your body, and then lower it back down
  • When your leg is almost to the ground, lift your right leg up, and repeat back and forth for reps or time

Pro Tip: 

Placing your hands on the ground will help you be more stable so you can focus on doing more kicks.

16. Side Plank

The side plank is an isometric exercise that targets the oblique muscles.

How To: 

  • Lie on your side with your feet stacked on top of one another
  • With your arm or elbow on the ground, lift your hips off the ground, keeping your feet down as well
  • Pull your belly into the body, and straighten your spine
  • Hold for time, then repeat on the other side

Pro Tip: 

If you find your shoulders are getting tired before your abs are, and you are not on your elbows, go to a side plank from the elbow. This will help you use less shoulders during the plank.

17. Sit Up

The sit up is an iconic bodyweight exercise that helps you train the core. This is a fuller range of motion version of the crunch.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with both feet on the ground and knees bent
  • Place your hands behind the head or across your chest
  • Lift your torso upwards so that you are in a seated position
  • You should have your chest and shoulders above your hips at the top
  • Slowly lower yourself down and repeat

Pro Tip: 

Try not to swing your arms around to help you lift yourself using momentum.

18. Toes to Bar

Toes to bar requires a stable pull up bar or frame to support your body weight as you hang from it, but is a great exercise for more advanced core strength. This requires you to hang from a bar and lift your legs and feet upwards (like a leg lift) all the way up to the bar.

How To: 

  • Hang from a pull up bar
  • Press your legs together, and lift your toes towards the bar
  • Touch the bar with your toes, then lower them down

Pro Tip: 

If you cannot keep your legs straight, this is fine, just perform more of a knee pull in and then flick your toes towards the bar.

19. Tuck Crunch

The tuck crunch is a combination between a reverse crunch and a crunch (also known as the double crunch). This works both the upper and lower regions of the abdominal muscles.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent
  • With your hands behind your head, lift your torso upwards while simultaneously pulling your knees into the chest
  • Touch the elbows to the knees
  • Lower yourself to the ground and repeat

Pro Tip: 

Try not to pull up on your head with your arms to aid in the movement. Rather, stay slow and controlled to feel the abs working more and use less momentum.

20. V-Up

The V-up is a bodyweight exercise similar to the jackknife sit up, however you do not bend your knees as you lift your torso upwards.

How To: 

  • Lie fully extended on the ground
  • Lift your legs and arms upwards together, meeting them above your torso
  • Lower your legs and arms (and torso) slowly back to the starting position

Pro Tip: 

Keep your legs straight as best as you can. If you cannot do these with straight legs, add a soft bend to the knees.

21. Windshield Wiper

Windshield Wiper emphasizes the obliques, however also targets the abdominal muscles isometrically.

How To: 

  • Lie on your back with both feet extended, with your arms out ot your sides (90 degrees from the body, like the letter “T”)
  • LIft your legs upwards so your feet are above your hips
  • Let your feet fall to one side of the body, without letting your shoulders come off the ground or having your torso rotate
  • Lift your legs back to the middle, then go to the other side, and repeat

Pro Tip: 

Push your shoulders, head, and arms into the floor. This will help you stay on the ground as your feet and legs are moving around side to side

Related Article: Home Workouts For Skinny Guys: 8 Tips + Sample Programs

20-Minute At-Home Core Workout Examples

20-minute at-home core workout examples

The below workouts should be done as a circuit, in which you will perform 6 movements in a continuous manner, three times (18 minutes).

Note: The below workouts are not in the Fitbod app.  These are only suggestions on how to integrate the 21 core exercises above into a custom workout program that you make for yourself in the Fitbod app.

Each exercise has a minute period where you will perform the movement for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds within that minute period before going to the next exercise in the order. Rest is built into the minute period.

Bodyweight Core Workout

Weighted Core Workout

Obliques Only Workout

  • Dumbbell Side Bend (one side): Heavy as can for 40 seconds
  • Dumbbell Side Bend (other  side): Heavy as can for 40 seconds
  • Russian Twist: with weight, heavy as you can for 40 seconds
  • Windshield Wipers
  • REST: this is an entire minute devoted to rest, use it

What To Read Next

If you have access to resistance bands, then check out these resistance band core exercises.  

Ever wonder how long it takes to get abs? Check out this article for the answer, as well as helpful tips to get abs quicker.

Should you train abs every day if you are looking for the best results?

About The Author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.