This Core Circuit Will Build More Functional Strength Than Sit-Ups Ever Could

Man using abs wheel to perform abs roll-out core exercise
(Image credit: Halfpoint Images / Getty Images)

Strengthening your core should be your number one priority in the gym. The ability to keep your body stable while resistance training is vital for protecting your back from injury as well as nailing the form of each exercise, so you get the maximum benefit from the work you’re putting in.

As your training evolves, you need to find new challenges for your core, which is why we’re sharing this functional routine from CANFITPRO-certified personal trainer Sarah Shepard.

The routine requires a kettlebell, weight plate and an abs roller. The abs roll-out can be especially hard on the knees so a folded exercise mat or yoga mat will be welcome if you have one available.

It’s really important to get your form right with core exercises, and Shepard demonstrates each exercise in her TikTok video for you to mirror, as well as providing form tips. 


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Movements In Sarah Shepard’s Core Workout

  • Kettlebell march, 12 reps each arm
  • Kettlebell around the world, 10 reps each direction
  • Abs roll-out, reps to failure
  • Up and over, 14 reps
  • Weighted dead bug, 14 reps
  • Weighted leg raise, 5 reps

Shepard recommends performing three rounds of the movements, but you could also add one round to the end of a longer gym workout.

If you own a kettlebell and abs roller, you could turn this session into a home workout, using the kettlebell in place of the weight plate. In fact, you can increase the difficulty of the weighted dead bug and weighted leg raise by holding the kettlebell in one hand, forcing your core to work harder to resist being pulled to one side. 

We have plenty more core workouts for you to try. If you have a set of dumbbells at home, try this legs and core workout or this dumbbell core workout. Or if you don’t have any equipment to hand, this bodyweight core workout uses Pilates techniques to challenge your deep-lying core muscles. 

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness writer

Lois Mackenzie is a fitness writer working on news, features, reviews and buying guides for Coach and sister site Fit&Well. Lois is a hill walker and avid runner who has just completed her first marathon. Before joining Coach, Lois worked as a senior SEO reporter at Newsquest Media Group.