Ditch the sit-ups — this 4-move bodyweight workout builds your core and improves posture at the same time

woman performing a plank outdoors on an exercise mat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There can be such a heavy fixation on building a sculpted set of abs that we forget the other perks that come from regularly training the core muscles with simple yet effective bodyweight exercises. 

Maintaining core strength throughout our lives can make everyday tasks easier, improve posture, and better physical performance in sports and hobbies. Here's a four-move workout we think will help you start building a core of steel.

It's a bodyweight workout so you can perform this pretty much anywhere and needn't worry about finding any fancy gym equipment, though a yoga mat might be helpful to add some extra cushioning and stability to your workout, which will reduce strain on joints while helping to maintain proper form and comfort during exercises.

The routine was designed by fitness trainer Sandy Sklar and she demonstrates each move for you to follow along, practice your technique and perfect your form to get the most from your training and avoid injury. 

What is the four-move core workout?

If you're feeling ready to strengthen your core muscles, here's where to begin.

Sklar's workout involves just four exercises that you'll perform in a circuit with little to no rest in-between each exercise. She recommends aiming for 12-24 reps per exercise which is pretty wide but you'll get a better idea of what works for you after trying out one round of the routine.

If this sounds a little intense, remember to take 30 to 60 seconds rest in between each set!

  1. Low plank with alternating leg ‘glute’ raise
  2. High plank shoulder tap
  3. Lying leg raise
  4. Bicycle crunch

Posture might not be something you think of while wincing through a plank but training your core is crucial for maintaining proper posture as it provides stability and support to the spine and pelvis. The stronger your core is the less likely you are to slouch, which is an easy way to promote poor posture and discomfort. 

Plus, good posture can promote more efficient movement in both physical activities,  such as lifting the best kettlebells in a muscle building workout or playing sport, and everyday tasks. In everyday life, proper posture contributes to overall health and well-being, preventing back pain and even improving things like your breathing.

If you're hoping to promote visible results in your abs by performing this routine, you'll have to consider a few more elements as sadly one core workout won't build a washboard set of abs.

First of all, genetics can play a big role in results so don't be disheartened if you feel like you aren't getting anywhere with your workouts. Being consistent with your core training is key but it's also important to maintain a balanced diet and include other forms of training such as cardio exercise and weight training to help reduce body fat and reveal ab muscle.

Additionally, incorporating progressive overload into your core training and exercise is a great way to avoid hitting a plateau. You can do this by increasing repetitions, adding resistance, or incorporating challenging variations of each exercise. 

Finally, you must never neglect getting adequate rest and recovery between workouts to promote muscle growth and repair. 

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.