Off the Floor Core


If I asked you to picture core training exercises in your minds eye, do you see exercises done on the floor? Although there are dozens of excellent floor based core exercises, there are also some great ones you can do standing. The secret to successful standing core exercises is to brace your midsection to keep your spine neutral.

Perhaps the biggest job the core has is to stabilize the spine during function. Abdominal and low back muscle actions are coordinated to do this. Following along with this thought, current core training use movements that stimulate abdominal and low back activity while protecting the spine. Readers of the blog will already be familiar with this concept. As with floor based varieties, these standing core exercises require holding the midsection stable to keep the low back within a neutral safe zone while limbs move.

Standing cable machine alternatives to training your core on the floor:

  • Press Out – Keep your shoulders aligned over your hips and push straight out from the middle of your body. Hold steady against the cable trying to turn you.

Standing Press Out

  • Pullover – Arms stay straight – don’t bend through your low back. This is most difficult when arms are up.

Standing Pullover

  • Chops – Pull to your chest, turn your shoulders and push until your arms are straight, all in one smooth motion.

Standing Chop

  • Push-Pull – Keep your midsection still while pushing with one hand and pulling with the other.


At first glance, these exercises may not look like they do much, and when I introduce them to my clients, I usually get doubting looks. There’s no crunching, no aggressive twisting – how well can they really work?! But once people try them and feel how much activity they create in abdominal and low back muscles, they inevitably say, “Oh, I get it.” Try them and see for yourself!



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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

4 Responses to “Off the Floor Core”

  1. Nancy says:

    Did you sit up or stand up with hands a little wider than shoulders?

    • Michael Bento says:

      For that exercise, you start from a standing position before setting up. With your hands on the edge of a desk and your toes on the floor, your body will be at about a 45 degree angle. I hope that helps!

  2. Jane says:


    • Michael Bento says:

      Hi Jane,

      As long as you have some room, a good core exercise for the office is a Push-up Plank.

      Set up with your hands a little wider than shoulders on the edge of a desk align your body from ears to ankles. You’ll probably have to be on your toes with heels off the floor.

      Hold that position for 10 seconds and repeat a few times. If that’s too easy for you, make it more challenging by raising one arm straight out and alternating left and right for 5-10 repetitions per arm.

      I hope you give it a try and let me know how you do!