Behind every set of chiseled abs stands a strong program. Unfortunately, most people still believe crunching into oblivion is the way to get a Greek god-like physique. If doing 1,000 crunches a day was the way to sculpt abs, there would be no secret behind having a strong, athletic core.
I have a better solution. After being in strength and conditioning facilities across the country, I have witnessed what the pros have their athletes doing, and you probably aren't doing the same things. All of these exercises have one thing in common—they force the core to fire as a whole unit. Here are the top five core exercises you're probably not doing.
Turkish Get Up
Besides bath houses, we may not be familiar with Turkish things; however the Turks have given us one of the single most effective and challenging core exercises. This exercise requires an immense amount of shoulder stability while forcing your entire core to stabilize.
To perform this exercise properly:
- Lie on your back holding a weight directly overhead
- Bend the knee corresponding to the arm holding the weight at a 90-degree angle toward the ceiling
- While keeping the weight directly overhead, proceed to sit up
- Once you've reached a sit up position, stand up, maintaining the weight directly overhead at all times
Perhaps there's a reason why farmers are naturally so strong. Carrying around heavy loads all day is no easy task.
- Grab a heavy weight in each hand and walk for a specified distance (typically 50 paces or so)
- Focus on keeping your posture upright at all times and avoid hunching your back
Medicine Ball Floor Slam
Finally, an exercise that allows us to release our built-up aggression! The Medicine Ball Floor Slam forces your core to fire as hard as possible in as little time as possible. Compare this to a plyometric exercise for the core.
- Start by standing tall while holding a heavy medicine ball overhead
- Slam the ball to the floor as hard as possible and allow your hands to almost "sweep" the surface of the floor
- Make sure that your arms follow the trajectory of the ball
- Finish the exercise with your body in a half squat depth
The Pallof Press is an upright stabilization exercise that forces the opposing side of your core to stabilize the active side of your core. This exercise can be compared to a Side Plank, except that you are standing up.
- Grab a weighted cable or resistance band and stand far enough away from it to fully engage the weight selected
- Establish a strong stance with feet about hip-width apart
- Press and hold the cable in front of your chest, maintaining the cable precisely in front of your sternum
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, then proceed to the other side
TRX Roll Up
This last exercise is commonly found in the programs of MMA fighters and wrestlers, because the rotational movement mimics performing a take down on an opponent. Once again, this exercise forces your core to function as a single unit, which is what the core is ultimately designed to do.
- Set the suspension trainer handles to about hip height
- Establish an inverted row position while keeping your torso parallel to the floor
- Pull yourself up as if you were going to perform an inverted row, but when you get about three-fourths of the way up, start rotating your body like a yo-yo
Watch the exercise being performed here.
Please realize that the core must be engaged as one unit in order to maximize performance and results. Instead of choosing to do isolation exercises for the core (e.g., Crunches), start implementing these exercises to yield better results.
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