Exercise Ladders

January 1 isn’t the only day to make changes for the better, but it does feel like a great day to set some new goals for the year. I got a new cookbook for Christmas and it’s inspired me to bake more bread—I have a feeling I might get some tasting volunteers on this team! (You guys are so generous.)


I also want to spend some time addressing my gym nemesis from way back: a weak core. I blame it on multiple abdominal surgeries, but to be honest, it’s also because I dislike both planks and working on things I’m really bad at. But I have bigger goals, a few that may involve running absurd distances and others that will put my brand new paddle (!!) to good use, and I need to work on my foundation to get there. It’s also the source of my back pain, and no one wants to deal with that.


So here’s my resolution: daily planks (my goal is 2 minutes…eventually) and adding a core workout to every run. I created some 4-minute ladders for myself last year for a quick way to challenge myself, but don’t mistake short for easy. They run through 4 exercises for increasing amounts of time (15/30/4/60 seconds) and then come back down through decreasing times (45/30/15). I rotate through a few different versions to mix it up and try to find exercises that don’t need much time to switch in between (all face up or all face down, for example). I don’t always make it all the way through! Remember that you can modify at any time, like going to your knees halfway through the plank hold. Check out one of the options below, or use this format to build your own. I hope you like it!


1. Face down:
0:00-0:15 Plank jacks/tap outs
0:15-0:45 Mountain climbers
0:45-1:30 Supermans
1:30-2:30 Plank (on toes or knees)
2:30-3:15 Supermans
3:15-3:45 Mountain climbers
3:45-4:00 Plank jacks/tap outs


2. Face up:
0:00-0:15 Straight leg lower/lift (bend your legs to make it easier)
0:15-0:45 Bridges
0:45-1:30 Bicycle crunches
1:30-2:30 V-sit/boat pose (rest your feet on the floor to make it easier)
2:30-3:15 Bicycle crunches
3:15-3:45 Bridges
3:45-4:00 Straight leg lower/lift




P.S. A ladder workout is a method of strength and sports training where you perform one or more exercises with an ascending and descending repetition pattern. Ladders are muscular endurance and conditioning workouts designed to help you increase your overall training volumes while maintaining proper form and technique. The number of exercises per workout and the number of reps between sets depends on your muscular strength and endurance. In general, beginner ladders involve one exercise, while advanced ladders involve two or three.

1 thought on “Exercise Ladders”

  1. Great program Janelle. As you mention these exercises are only good for you if they are done with proper form. Make sure you favor form over time/reps. Only do the exercise as long as you can maintain proper form…if you find yourself falling out of form than that is your indicator that this is your limit FOR NOW. You will get stronger and be able to extend time or reps. Proper form is key to gaining strength without injury.

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