How to Build Core Strength With the Bodysaw

If Crunches and Planks have become too easy for you, but you still don't have the six-pack you're looking for, try doing the Bodysaw exercise on a suspension trainer. It will help you develop the thick, muscular abs you want.

Bodysaws can be used two ways—as a stand-alone exercise or as an addition to moves like Reverse Crunches and Pikes. Because of its suspended body position, the exercise provides instant feedback on whether you're using your abs or the rest of your body.

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Although Bodysaws can be advanced to be incredibly intense, they are still suitable for beginners, because they can be modified simply by reducing the range of motion. This can also be done toward the end of a set to get more reps without losing control.

Bodysaws are superior to Crunches and Planks for a few reasons:

  • By adding in the movement portion, you change the exercise from static to dynamic, which is more applicable to the real world and to on-field movements.
  • When your body is forced to hold tension as the lever angle and weight distribution changes, it reacts by increasing stiffness through the core. It's not uncommon to get a cramp in the upper abs the first time you do this move.
  • When extra weight or force is added to an already stiff core, the body supercompensates by building muscle in those areas, giving your abs deep lines and making them stand out from the rest of your torso.
  • When you're finished with a set, you instantly know; there are no mindless repetitions like you see in many standard ab routines.

As are most ab exercises, this is an assistance exercise, and it should be done after you finish your main lifts for the day, especially those like Squats and Deadlifts that require core tension. If you have a standalone core day, you can add the Bodysaw to the front end because of its difficulty level.

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Start working for time, not reps. Three sets of 30 seconds is great. Don't worry about how many reps you get the first time. Focus instead on total abdominal tension and a controlled pause at the hardest point in the middle of the rep.

As you get stronger, work up to 4 sets of 10 reps, with each rep taking about 5 seconds to complete. You can increase difficulty by moving from a forearm plank position to a push-up plank position. To avoid back strain,  master the basic version first, so you don't fall on your face.

Add the Bodysaw to your program in place of another ab exercise. Do them no more than three times per week, or less than 12 sets per week total.

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How To Do a Bodysaw

Bodysaw

  • Assume a plank position with your toes in a suspension trainer.
  • Pull your ribs down in front to activate your abs and protect your low back.
  • Push your arms forward; this will cause your feet to move back toward the anchor point.
  • Pause at the point where your feet are as far back as possible.
  • Slowly bring yourself back to the starting point at a controlled speed.
  • Squeeze your abs for extra emphasis.

Notes:

If you don't have access to a suspension, trainer, Bodysaws can be done using a variety of other implements. The easiest is a mid-sized Swiss ball, but you can also do them with your ankles on a foam roller.

By adding a pike or knee tuck (as shown in the video above), you can add extra emphasis to the hard-to-train region of your lower abs.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: CORE | ABS | PLANK | CRUNCH