ore training often gets confused with direct abdominal exercises. Exercises like crunches and sit-ups (combined with a rigid and boring nutrition plan) may make instafamous wannabes look great in just the right lighting, but to truly train and strengthen your core properly you need to focus on a lot more anti-movement exercises.
What I’m referring to are those exercises that resist movement rather than those that involve excessive spinal flexion, extension and bending. There are countless quality exercises that can correctly target your core in this way, but here are my top 5 to establish and sustain a bulletproof core!
Bundle these exercises together into a killer core workout or tack 1-2 on to the end of your daily workouts.
Set up a step or bench to roughly the same height as your Swiss Ball (ensuring it is fully inflated - it’s A LOT harder if it’s flat!). Start in a front plank position with shoulders vertically stacked over elbows and begin to make small circles with your forearms for a set number of rotations and then alternate.
Timing: aim for 30 seconds to start and extend time as you progress. Complete 3 sets.
Stack feet on a small step and begin in a side plank position, shoulder vertically stacked over elbow. Once in a comfortable and stable position, in controlled movements start by lowering your hip towards the floor and then firmly away from the floor to starting position (and beyond if possible). Repeat on other side.
Timing: aim for 30 seconds on each side and extend time as you progress. Complete 3 sets (each side).
This exercise can be made as easy (or hard!) as needed. Unless you’re at a very advanced level, begin kneeling, holding the ab-wheel on the ground at your knees in front of you. Now tuck in your pelvis (posterior tilt) to engage the core properly and protect your spine. Roll the wheel out with straight arms until you’re reaching out as far as you can go, whilst at the same time your hips slowly extend. Keeping your core tight, pull your body back until your hands and hips return to starting position. This exercise tests your ability to maintain muscular tension and perfect form throughout the movement.
Reps/sets: aim for reps of 10 x 3 sets. As you progress, aim to reach further, with the goal being to lie almost flat to the ground on your knees, and then on your toes (this takes years of practice!).
Compared with a traditional plank, the suspension component requires a greater level of stability, meaning you’ll build a greater level of core strength throughout your entire core from serratus anterior down to your lower abdominals. Start in a push up-like position, maintaining outstretched arms (shoulders vertically stacked over hands) with your feet hooked into the TRX handles. Keeping your spine in a neutral position and your hips slightly higher (horizontally) than your shoulders, slowly rock your body backward and then forward (to start position), then tuck your knees into your chest and return to starting position. Repeat process but ensure not to create too much momentum throughout movement to focus on loading and stabilising the core properly.
Reps/sets: aim for 3 sets of 10 reps, increasing as you develop in strength.
Great for core activation, this exercise also improves spine and hip alignment, shoulder stabilisation and reduces lower back pain. Start on all fours with hands and feet placed on sliding discs, with knees slightly elevated off the floor. Bracing your core and focusing on keeping a neutral spine, glide your right hand forward and left foot backward, so they are both close to full extension. With control, return to starting position and repeat on other arm and leg.
Reps/sets: 10 reps on each side, repeat for 3 sets
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