Six-Pack Boot Camp: Full-Body Weighted Core Routine

This bodyweight-only HIIT routine packs a big punch in minimal time.

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Dumbbells and weight plates aren’t just for working big muscle groups like the legs, shoulders and back. The core also can benefit greatly from added resistance, even just light weights.

That’s the premise of this particular Six-Pack Boot Camp workout, which consists of five weighted exercises using whatever equipment you have available — a light dumbbell, a weight plate, a medicine ball or other small implement. And we’re not just talking about typical ab exercises here. This routine incorporates a handful of moves you wouldn’t necessarily think of for the abs and core, including specific variations of squats, lunges and deadlifts that bring more midsection focus. 

This hard-hitting workout was designed by ISSA-certified trainer and former U.S. Marine Aneshea Shali, owner of Core Camp Challenge and creator of such other fitness programs as the Dirty 30 Challenge, 7 Day Fit Commit and Full Body Flex. 

“These exercises hit large muscle groups,” Shali says, “but I’d argue they’re just as good for improving core strength and stability as any isolation exercise like planks.” 

The workout also prescribes a good dose of rotational torso work through Russian twists and woodchoppers (again, with added resistance). What you end up with is a full-body, multi-planar, highly functional routine that can fit into any program at any time. 

Get more Six-Pack Boot Camp Workouts here! 

Full-Body Weighted Core Workout

Use whatever light-weight resistance you have available for this routine. A small weight plate (i.e., 5 or 10 pounds), a dumbbell or even a medicine ball are good options. 

Perform the below exercises as “straight sets” (doing all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next), resting one minute between sets. If you’d prefer to perform the exercises as a circuit (one set of each exercise consecutively), rest two minutes between rounds, doing three rounds total.

Exercise Sets Reps
Plate-Hold Squat 3 15
Russian Twist 3 20 (per side)
Lunge With Overhead Press 2-3 15 (per side)
One-Leg Romanian Deadlift 3 15 (per side)
Woodchopper 2-3 20 (per side)

Exercise Descriptions and Tips

Plate-Hold Squat 

Plate-Hold Squat

Execution: Stand holding a weight in front of your chest with your arms bent and feet hip- to shoulder-width apart on the floor. Extend your arms so you’re holding the weight straight out in front of you with your arms parallel to the floor. In this position, perform a full-range-of-motion squat, then return to the standing position. Keep your torso upright throughout. Repeat for reps, holding the weight out in front of you the entire set. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “This squat variation will really force you to contract your core hard the entire time, due to holding the weight out in front of you. Don’t let your torso lean forward; keep it vertical.”

Russian Twist

Russian Twist

Execution: Sit on the floor holding a weight. Lift your feet off the floor and lean back slightly so that only your glutes are in contact with the floor and your thighs and torso form a “V” shape (knees bent roughly 90 degrees). Start by holding the weight over your chest, then lower it to one side. When it touches the floor (or close to it) on that side, reverse the motion to come back to center, then lower it to the other side and back to center again. That’s one rep. Alternate sides until all reps are complete. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Go ahead and get into a rhythm on these reps while alternating back and forth; this doesn’t have to be a super-slow movement. But keep it under control, and don’t let your hips turn to either side.”

Lunge With Overhead Press 

Lunge With Overhead Press

Execution: Stand with your legs together holding a weight at your shoulders with your arms bent. If your using two dumbbells, hold them in front of your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Keeping your arms bent, perform a forward lunge with one leg. At the bottom of the lunge, press the weight (or dumbbells) overhead with both arms. Bring the weight back down, then stand back up from the bottom of the lunge. Repeat on the other side — that’s one rep. Alternate legs until all reps are complete. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Think about pushing the weight slightly behind your head on the overhead press. This will help keep it from coming forward. You want your hands directly over your shoulders in the top position.”

One-Leg Romanian Deadlift 

One-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Execution: Stand with your feet close together, holding a weight in front of you with your arms extended toward the floor. If your using dumbbells, hold them straight down at your sides. Start the motion by pushing your hips straight back and lifting one foot off the floor behind you to lower the weight down, all your weight on one leg with that knee slightly bent (not locked out). Lower down until your torso and non-working leg are about parallel with the floor, then contract your glutes and hamstrings to reverse the motion and return to the up position. Complete all reps on that leg, then switch legs and repeat. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “One-leg RDLs are a great core move because (1) you’re directly targeting the glutes with the movement, and the glutes are a key core muscle; and (2) staying balanced on one leg requires your trunk muscles to stabilize big time. Keep the movement slow and steady. If you start to lose balance, feel free to put your other foot down and reset.”


WoodchopperExecution: Stand holding a single weight (medicine ball, weight plate, dumbbell, etc.) with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and twist your torso to lower the weight to one side, arms fully extended, bringing it down to just outside your knee. Reverse the motion, twisting back the other way and lifting the weight diagonally over the opposite shoulder at the top. Repeat for reps on that side, then switch sides. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “It’s very important on free-weight woodchoppers that you move the weight up under control and focus on the core muscles. If you do this move too fast or mindlessly, you won’t hit the target area. You should also feel the obliques, since you’re pulling the weight up diagonally.”