I Added This Bodyweight Finisher To My Workout To Build Core Strength

Woman performing mountain climber exercise in gym
(Image credit: Alice Porter / Future)

I mostly avoid targeted core workouts, choosing instead to perform strength sessions built around heavy compound exercises that activate my core.

However, I’ve begun to suspect that my core might need more attention. For a start, I’ve been experiencing backache when sitting at my desk and strengthening your core is one of the best ways to counteract this.

I also do CrossFit which often involves a series of gymnastics-based exercises and my lack of core strength can hold me back during those sessions.

So I added this short, equipment-free finisher from personal trainer Ella-Mae Rayner to the end of one of my usual CrossFit workouts. Here’s the Instagram reel of the workout.

There are eight exercises to be done consecutively without rest. Rayner recommends resting for one minute after all the exercises have been performed, then repeating that sequence a total of three times. It took me about 15 minutes and my core was burning by the end of the workout. 

I know good form is essential during core workouts and I paid close attention to this, especially as my muscles fatigued in the second and final rounds. I tucked my ribcage in and squeezed my glutes while performing the leg raise so my lower back remained pressed into the exercise mat.

Woman holding plank position in gym

(Image credit: Alice Porter / Future)

I also made a point of keeping my hips in line with the rest of my body during the mountain climbers and plank, rather than letting them hike up which takes some of the tension away from my core muscles and diminishes the challenge.

I'm pretty confident with flexion exercises such as sit-ups and crunches, which mainly engage the rectus abdominis muscles. However, the leg raises and climbers proved far more difficult which suggests I lack strength in my obliques and deeper core muscles such as the transverse abdominis. I love any workout that helps me identify weak spots so it’s one I’ll come back to regularly as a quick way to activate my entire core and put my strength to the test.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.