7 Boot Camp Core Exercises

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An Exercise Boot Camp post by Luke Wold

Besides being ineffective, crunches are freaking BORING!

No long lead-in here, just 7 boot camp style exercises that will firm up your core and add a little ZAZZ to your training program

Boot Camp Core Exercise #1: Reverse Cable Wood Chop

Your torso muscles work in an X pattern.

Think about throwing a ball: your core flexes to pull your right shoulder down towards your left hip.

Most core exercises take advantage of this movement pattern.

But when you REVERSE that pattern, you’re working your muscles in a whole new way!

The foot set up for these is the same as for a standard cable chop, the difference is you set the pulley at the bottom pin and chop from low to high.

Boot Camp Core Exercise #2: Jackal Push Up

Your abs really engage when your hold an extended plank – something where your upper arm isn’t directly below your shoulder.

Jackal Pushups are the next-level of this idea.  Instead of just holding an extended plank, everything in your core tightens as you lift your body off the floor:

Boot Camp Core Exercise #3: Incline Rope Sit Up Eccentrics

Sure, these are a little more complicated to set up than just grabbing a mat and busting out a few crunches.  But they’re worth it.

It starts with an normal weighted sit up.  No problem.

Then you straighten your arms out overhead and lower yourself back slowly, keeping your body and arms in a straight line.  Brutal:


  • Think about keeping your arms by your ears – not in front or in back of your head
  • Don’t push the rope handles together, keep them slightly apart
  • Don’t let your shoulders “wing” back, press the handles constantly
  • If you can see your hands or arms, you’ve let your body drift behind the rope, this makes it totally easy and you aren’t working your core much

Boot Camp Core Exercise #4: Cable Plank Pulls

Having one of your arms or legs moving while you hold a static core exercise is a phenomenal way to work your core.

I actually prefer to do these with a heavy elastic band instead of a cable, so the tension really tries to pull you over and you have to stay very tight.

As with all planking variations, don’t let your hips roll or you take the benefit away from your abs.

Boot Camp Core Exercise #5: Gorilla Ups

This is a standard grappling exercise I learned in my career as a wrestler.  (Seriously advanced athletes can do them with one arm!)

You have to keep everything tight and also flex your knees up while pulling with the arms.  There’s a lot going on here!

Boot Camp Core Exercise #6: Kettlebell Press To Windmill

As you press the weight overhead, your core stabilizers have to work overtime to keep you from pitching to the side.

The windmill portion of this exercise will totally smoke the muscles on the side of your torso.

Funny story: One of my clients did 4 sets of the windmill for the first time.  Next day she comes in holding her obliques (side abs) and said, “I HATE WINDMILLS!  I’m so sore!”

All I replied was, “Didn’t you tell me you wanted to work on your ‘love handles’?”

You could see the big cartoon light bulb go on over her head as she realized she’d NEVER worked her core like this.  She said, “You’re right!  I LOVE windmills!!”

Boot Camp Core Exercise #7: Kick Through Extended Side Planks

I’m taking all of the credit for inventing this one.  (I haven’t seen it anywhere else.  If you have, please keep quiet, I like feeling inventive :))

The arm extended position makes side planks much harder.  Using only the top leg makes stabilizing harder and works your inner thigh like you wouldn’t believe.  Placing your feet on a raised surface makes the plank even tougher.

And kicking your leg means your body will be trying to sway and drop and you have to keep everything especially tight to keep from pitching over like this:

Forget boring, useless crunches.

Try one of these great core exercises in your next workout!

Talk soon,

~ Luke Wold

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