My Core Warm-up Routine

A vital part of my training is strength work. Just hiking or running isn’t enough for big mountain expeditions like Denali. And core work is a sufferfest but having a weak core in the mountains is an even worse sufferfest. Put in the work at home so you can enjoy the view when you’re out there instead of collapsing under the weight of your pack. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

This routine is something my trainer and I created together, based on Steve House and Scott Johnson’s book, Training for the New Alpinism. I run through this at least twice a week right before my strength session.

Some of these moves are a work in progress, and that’s ok! Like the “super push up”. I’m not able to do that move in it’s fullest expression so I’m working on building strength in the areas that are holding me back.


Strict Sit Ups

10 reps

Shoulders should be off the ground and feet planted firmly on the ground (you might have to work toward this a bit, it took me a couple weeks to keep my feet grounded). Pretend you’re being pulled upwards by a rope attached to your chest. It’s very important to keep your core engaged the whole time; otherwise this move doesn’t really do anything for you. 




Bird Dogs

10 reps each side

From tabletop position, raise your arm out in front of you and the opposite leg out back, forming a straight line. Use your knee to draw as wide a circle as possible, keeping your arm, hips and back still. It’s a weird move at first!




Windshield Wipers

10 reps each side

This is a really difficult move and in it’s final expression will be hanging from a pull-up bar. I’m still working towards that, so for now they’re on the ground. Lay down, spread your arms out and rotate your legs from side to side. Sounds easy enough ;)




Three Point

10 reps each leg

From high plank position raise one leg off the ground then gently touch your toe back down, keeping your hips completely still. Make sure to keep the pace slow and controlled on this one; just blasting through it makes it less effective because you’re relying on momentum instead of strength. Once you’re a pro at that, you can switch to “two point” - same thing with the leg, and also raising the opposite arm. 





10 reps each side

This is one of my favorites because you get to pretend to be kayaking down a river. While lifting your feet off the ground, naturally. Start in a sitting position and pick your feet up, making an angle with your legs and core. Keep that stable while holding an imaginary paddle in your hands and rotate from side to side. 




Air Bud Push Ups (aka Super Push Ups)


So for this one, start in downward dog and s-curve forward into a push-up; then without collapsing, back out of it the same way you came in. I cannot do that yet, so our modification is  to downward dog into a pushup, then push back out. (I renamed this in honor of everyone’s favorite pup so that I have something happy to think about when all I want to do is cry in agony; this move is harrrrrrrrd.)



1 Leg Table

10 reps each side

Come into reverse tabletop. Keeping your hips still and level, lift one foot off the ground into a straight line. You’re really gonna have to fight to keep your hips level. Imagine there’s a hot cup of coffee sitting on your belly button and it’s to your best advantage to keep your core still and level. If you collapse, the coffee spills and no one is happy.




Gymnast L-Sit

4 sets, hold as long as you can

This is a cool move that, once you build the strength to lift your feet off the ground will make a v cool party trick. Sit with legs straight out in front of you, place your hands on the ground a little bit above the knee and lift yourself up. DON'T BE FOOLED; this is hard.




Side Plank Stars

10reps each side

Start in side plank position and reach your hand down through the window you’ve created with your arm and hips then rotate up to the sky, like drawing a shooting star. Do this 10 times then switch to the other side.

I do this set twice through as a warmup before my hour strength session. It takes me about 15 minutes. Don’t rush through these moves, the idea here is to control your core; it’s not a race. Each move should be more like a meditation. I like to use this time to set intentions for the upcoming workout and remember why I’m here. 

Let me know if you give these a try! 

To see a video of these, check out my Instagram highlights - I put together a quick run through of what each move looks like right now. Will be updating as I get stronger so stay tuned!

*disclaimer: I am not a professional; this post is meant to track my own progression and is not a prescription... this is my own personal routine and what works for me might not work for you. Give it a try but don't hold me liable for anything I may or may not have said ;)