You don't need weights to work your core, just these six moves

This high-intensity bodyweight routine is ideal for building core strength without equipment

Woman holding a bodyweight squat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many people reach for a set of weights when they want to build muscle; this is an effective way to train, but it's not the only way. If you want to develop and strengthen your core, you can use this six-move bodyweight routine instead.

When you're at the gym or training at home, you might grab one of the best kettlebells and do kettlebell swings to build core strength, boost your metabolism, and work your whole body. But it's not always possible to have a set of weights to hand.

Whether you're traveling, short on time, or don't have space for equipment at home, personal trainer Rhiannon Bailey's (opens in new tab) six-move high-intensity bodyweight routine trains multiple muscles simultaneously, strengthens your abs, and builds your core.

You'll keep the intensity high by exercising for 40 seconds, taking a 20-second break, before continuing to the next move. Once you've completed all six, repeat the round another four times for an effective, ab-building workout.

When you're trying to strengthen your abs, it's easy to accidentally arch your back rather than tense your core, so it's crucial to focus on your technique. Fortunately, you can watch Bailey's demonstrations to perfect your form, get the most from your training, and avoid injury.

Watch Rhiannon Bailey's six-move core workout

A post shared by Rhiannon Bailey (@rhiannoncbailey) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

This exercise style is known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), where the aim is to train intensely for short periods before taking a quick break. This works your muscles hard, increases your heart rate, and helps boost your metabolism.

That's why you often hear that people take on a HIIT workout for fat loss, as increased metabolism means you burn more energy throughout the day, even at rest. HIIT routines are often cardio-focused, so include activities like running on the spot or burpees.

However, Bailey's workout focuses on strength-building exercises like squat crunches, mountain climbers, and cross crunches while also featuring cardio moves, including sumo squat jumps, high-knee punches, and burpees.

The muscle-building activities work several areas of your body, but all help train your core, a section of mid-body muscle including the rectus abdominis six-pack ab muscle. A stronger core increases stability, promotes circulation, and improves your overall workout performance.

If you enjoyed Bailey's routine and are looking for more weight-free workouts, you can add these core strengthening exercises to your exercise program. Or consider investing in one of the best ab rollers for a portable way to train your core.

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.