Would you like to shift your sweat session from the floor to your feet? Core-centric exercises are essential for spinal stability, pelvic floor power, balance, and safety when performing daily activities such as walking, stair climbing, and carrying heavy objects. But if you’re one of the many people who suffer from sore knees, hips, a bad lower back, or if you have trouble standing up from a supine or prone position, mat-based exercises can be challenging, and even dangerous.

While it may be tempting to omit core exercises from your workout, there are alternative training methods that can help you carve your core without sacrificing your safety -- and while remaining upright.

You will need a set of light free weights for this workout. For best results, repeat the entire circuit three times, three days each week.

The Chopping Block

  • Grab a single dumbbell and hold the ends of it with both hands. Position your feet so they are wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • With your body weight in your heels, hinge back at your hips and twist your torso to the right. As you rotate, lower your hands until the free weight is on the outside of the right knee. Allow your gaze to follow the weight as you move.

  • Now push through your heels to stand and simultaneously cross the weight in front of your body, moving it up toward the left. Once your arms are fully extended hold for a count. That is one repetition. Remember that your eyes should follow the free weight, and your elbows should remain soft throughout the entire exercise. Repeat 10 times then switch sides.

The Split Squat Sizzler

  • Holding a free weight with both hands, stand tall with your shoulders back and core engaged.

  • Take a step back with your right foot and lower your body into a lunge. Your weight should be resting in your front heel. Check that both knees are at a 90-degree angle, and your front knee does not extend past your toes.

  • Firmly grasp the weight and extend it up overhead. Allow your gaze to follow your hands as you bring the weight down to the outside of your right leg. Try to keep you lower half steady as you move the weight back overhead and then down to the left side. Continue this back-and-forth arm motion for 10 total repetitions, then repeat on the opposite leg.

The Single Leg Core Carver

  • Hold a free weight in each hand and let your arms rest at the sides of your body.

  • Carefully elevate your right leg until your thigh is parallel with the ground. If you have a hard time balancing, lower your leg until it is hovering off the floor, or practice the first few reps with both feet planted.

  • With your core activated and palms facing in, slowly bring both arms up until they reach shoulder height. Try to avoid locking your elbows. Hold for two counts then return your arms back down to the starting stance. Continue 10 times then switch legs.

You can always make tweaks and modifications to your training methods. If you want to brush those floor-based fitness moves under the rug, you just need to think on your feet.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt, ACE-CPT, is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.