5 Core Exercises You Can Do With Just a Yoga Mat

Most of us think we need to head to the gym to get a good sweat session, but that’s really not true. In fact, many fantastic exercises can be performed anywhere. Sometimes, all you really need is a yoga mat, plus some ideas for moves you can do. This is where we can help. With this batch of moves, you can expect to strengthen your core, glutes, quads, and more. Grab a mat and get started.

1. Elbow plank with leg lift

man holding a plank exercise

Planks are hard work. | iStock.com

To begin, get into a forearm plank position. Your elbows should be right underneath your shoulders and your legs extended straight, toes on the ground. Once you’re in this position, lift your right foot off the floor until it’s in line with your back, keeping your back flat and abs contracted. Hold this position for five seconds, then lower your leg back to the ground, and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating legs for one minute before taking a break.

2. Figure four bridge

woman doing warming up exercise for spine, backbend

You’ll want to try this bridge variation.| iStock.com/undrey

Expect to feel the burn in your glutes, quads, and core muscles with this spin on a standard bridge exercise. Self says to start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, cross your right ankle over your left leg so your ankle is resting on your thigh, right below your knee. Keep your arms at your sides, palms facing up. Next, lift your glutes off the floor by pushing through your left foot until your body creates a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat a few times, then switch sides.

3. Marching hip raise

woman doing glute bridge on a yoga mat

Though this move looks simple, it’s quite a challenge. | iStock.com

The marching hip raise is another exercise that adds even more of a challenge to the classic bridge pose. Cosmopolitan offers a great demonstration. Begin in a bridge with your shoulder blades and feet on the floor, glutes lifted off the ground, and arms at your sides with your palms facing down. Your body should remain in this lifted position throughout the entire exercise, which means your abs, glutes, and thighs are constantly engaged. Now, raise one leg at a time as if you’re walking, bringing your knee directly above your hip at the top of each movement. Continue alternating sides for as long as you can without letting your form suffer.

4. Modified V-up

man exercising pilates

V-ups are challenging, so work your way up to them.| iStock.com/Ostill

Crunches are great, but they can get boring with too much repetition. During your next workout, challenge your core with a modified V-up. Women’s Health says to start by lying on your back with your legs straight out and arms at your sides. Then, lift your torso and legs off the floor, bringing your knees toward your chest and fingertips toward your feet so you’re balancing on your glutes, stopping when your elbows and knees just about meet. You should feel the contraction in your abs at the top of this move. Then, slowly bring your body back to the floor to complete one rep. Repeat 10 times for one set.

5. The hundred

pilates exercises with an instructor

Try completing the hundred Pilates exercise. | iStock.com/VladimirFLoyd

You’ll definitely feel the burn in your abs after you complete all 100 reps of this pilates exercise. Yes, you read that right — 100 repetitions. It’s a challenge, but you’ll feel invincible after you’ve finished this Pilates classic, which is a favorite over at Fitness.

Begin lying on your back, then lift your head and shoulder blades off the ground as you raise your legs until they create a 45-degree angle with the ground. Keeping your legs and core steady, begin pumping your arms up and down about six inches from the floor. Make sure to focus on your breathing, inhaling for five pumps and exhaling for five pumps, as you perform 100 total reps. Your abs should be on fire at the end of the exercise.