To ensure that you follow a fully balanced exercise programme, it is important to include floorwork exercises as part of your all-round conditioning and train a number of key core muscle groups.

Floorwork training exercises the following key muscle groups:

  • Abdominals (stomach muscles)
  • Obliques (sides of abdomen)
  • Lower back
  • Core muscles (deep postural muscles)

Floorwork exercises are essential for maintaining good posture, keeping you upright, holding you in and making your entire body stronger. Try the following core strength test to see how floorwork exercises can be an extremely useful tool in your training programme.

  1. Ask a friend to stand with poor posture, ie: with rounded shoulders and slumped forward.
  2. Get them to extend one arm out to the side at 90 degrees to their body.
  3. Whilst maintaining poor posture, ask your friend to resist you pushing their arm back into their side as you apply force to their wrist.
  4. You will find it quite easy to return their arm to their body.
  5. Now get your friend to stand with good posture, shoulders back, upright and most importantly with their abdominal and core muscles contracted. Make sure that they don’t hold their breath.
  6. Repeat the arm pushing exercise.
  7. You will find it much harder to return their arm to their body when they have contracted their core muscles.

This simple exercise shows how important floorwork is because it makes your whole body stronger, not just the muscles that you train. In turn this means that you can run more efficiently, lift more weight and importantly, maintain good posture.

Basic floorwork exercises

1. Abdominal exercises

  1. Lie on your back on the floor, feet flat, knees bent, shoulder width apart.
  2. Position your fingertips just forward of your ears.
  3. Keeping the head and neck in line with the spine, lift the shoulders up from the floor, contracting the abdominals.
  4. Lower the body to the floor under control and repeat.
  5. Avoid hooking the feet under a stationary object, which will work the hip flexors rather than the abdominals.

How many should I do?

Build up gradually to two sets of up to 20 repetitions each set, with 60 seconds recovery between sets.

2. Oblique exercises

  1. Sit on a stability ball with your feet braced against the bottom of a wall.
  2. Twist round so that one hip is positioned on top of the ball.
  3. Lean sideways into the ball until you feel a stretch down the opposite side.
  4. Lift your body back up either until it is vertical or as far as you feel comfortable.
  5. Lower back to the ball and repeat.

How many should I do?

Build up gradually to a single set of up to 20 repetitions on each side, with 60 seconds recovery between sides.

3. Lower back exercises

  1. Lie face down on the floor, arms parallel with your sides, head and neck in line with the spine.
  2. Lift the shoulders off the floor by contracting the lower back muscles and keeping the head and neck in line with the spine.
  3. Lower the shoulders to the floor under control and repeat.

How many should I do?

The same number as for your abdominal exercises so that you maintain your body in balance.

4. Core exercises

  1. Lie face down on the floor.
  2. Position elbows directly underneath shoulders, tucked in to the sides, arms flat on the floor and pointing ahead.
  3. Bring legs and toes together.
  4. Lift body up from the floor, balancing upon toes and forearms.
  5. Fully contract  core muscles  in towards spine, ensuring head is kept aligned with the spine.

For how long should I hold the position?

Gradually work towards holding the position for 60 seconds

Build these floorwork exercises into your training programme and you will look, feel and function better for every activity you are involved with.

When exercising, always remember to keep your body in balance. For example: if you train the muscles at the front of your abdomen (stomach muscles), train the muscles at the back of your abdomen (lower back) as well. That way you will avoid developing muscle imbalances and postural problems.