The 30 Day CORE Challenge

Today is the first day of the rest of your dance life, so take the challenge and make things happen for yourself! 

Ellen G Walker TCRG - owner of Target Training - shared this challenge with IDM readers in September 2018. With restrictions in place limiting your studio time, we thought it was the perfect time to share again!   


What if I told you that by stabilizing and strengthening one muscle group, you could reduce your risk of injury, improve your balance, and promote proper alignment? That is all possible by developing the muscles in your core!

Your core is comprised of bones, muscles and ligaments in your shoulder girdle, trunk, pelvis and hip. The superficial trunk muscles (muscles closer to the skin) and deep trunk muscles (further from the skin) are responsible for providing stability within your core. Your core is the center of your gravity in your body and when developed properly, improves your balance, power, and stability. This is important to Irish Dancers who are frequently leaping, turning, and moving quickly across the floor.

The 30-Day Core Challenge
To jumpstart your core training, we’ve developed an easy-to-follow yet challenging, 30 Day Core Challenge. Follow along with the exercises below and add modifications to them as you need to. Couple notes for the challenge:

Exercise Form
Always make sure that you are performing each exercise with proper form. Follow along with the photos and guidelines in this article to help you.

For all the exercises, we give recommendations to make them more challenging by changing the exercise slightly or changing the tempo (how quickly you’re doing each movement). By changing the tempo, this will force your muscles to focus on developing while it is lengthened and shortened (eccentric vs. concentric contractions).

Breathing during Movements
It’s important to always remember to breathe during your exercises. Below each exercise description are suggestions for when to inhale and exhale.

Print out this calendar to help you stay on track.

Exercises in the 30-Day Core Challenge


  • Form: Elbows directly below shoulders, body in a straight line from head to heals.
  • Modifications: Begin on knees, progress to both toes.
  • Breathe: Even inhalation and exhalation throughout pose.


  • Form: Hands behind ears, legs in table top position, twist upper body (keeping elbows open), extend one leg long as the other leg pulls in to meet the opposite elbow.
  • Modifications: Begin with upper body only and feet on the ground, progress to legs extending long. The lower your extended leg is to the ground, the more challenging the exercise will be.
  • Breathe: Inhale for 2 bicycles, exhale for 2 bicycles.

Single Leg V SitsSingle Leg V Sits

  • Form: Begin laying on your back with body extended long on the floor and arms reaching over head. Lift upper body and 1 leg off the ground then return to the floor and repeat on the other side. 
  • Modifications: Begin by moving 2 counts up and 2 counts down. Progress to 1 count up and 3 counts down. 
  • Breathe: Exhale on the way up, inhale when you return to the floor.

Side Plank Hip Dips Side Plank a 
Side Plank b

  • Form: Laying on one side, place elbow directly below shoulder. Body extends long with either one knee on the ground or both legs extended long (see modifications below). Dip hips to the ground and tap the floor then return to a side plank. Repeat on both sides. 
  • Modifications: Begin with one knee on the ground, progress to both legs extending long. Begin with 2 counts down and 2 counts up. Can progress to 3 counts down and 1 count up.
  • Breathe: Inhale on the way down to the ground, exhale when you press up.


Leg Lowers Leg LowersLeg Lowers 

  • Form: Begin laying on your back with both legs extended directly above your hips. While keeping your low back on the ground, lower your legs then return them to the starting position. 
  • Modifications: Begin with legs bent and progress to legs being straight. Make the movement more challenging by dropping your legs closer to the ground. Begin with 2 counts down and 2 counts up. Can progress to 3 counts down and 1 count up.
  • Breathe: Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up. For more Irish dance-specific training tips, videos and more, visit us at

Ellen G. Waller TCRG has dedicated her life to Irish Dance. As a trained dance teacher, Ellen is determined to break the barriers young dancers and athletes inevitably encounter. In addition to being a certified TCRG, Ellen holds an undergraduate degree in Dance Education and a Masters of Science in Exercise Science. Coupling her in-depth experience as an Irish Dancer/instructor with her expansive knowledge of kinesiology, Ellen created the innovative and successful TARGET TRAINING program; a series of courses and advanced training methods that condition specific muscles Irish dancers of all ages need to excel.



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  1. Bowling A. Injuries to dancers: prevalence, treatment, and perceptions of causes. BMJ 1989;298(6675):731-734.
  2. Gam, C.F. (2015, March). Core Control: Not just abdominals” . retrieved from
  3. Kline JB, Krauss JR, Maher SE, Quo X. Core strength training using a combination of home exercises and a dynamic sling system for the management of low back pain in pre-professional ballet dancers. A case series. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. 2013; 17(1):24-33.
  4. Liemohn WP, Baumgartner TA, Fordham SR, et al: Quantifying core stability: a technical report. J Strength Cond Res 2010, 24(2):575-579.



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