A killer core workout helps you get six-pack abs and teaches your core to engage when you lift weights or play sports. Develop an awesome core, and you'll not only look good, you'll also be able to lift more weight, play at a higher level and stay injury-free.
Core muscles resist twisting or bending of your torso to protect your spine and low back. They also help transfer power from your lower body to your upper body so you can make a powerful tackle or throw a 90-mph fastball.
To effectively strengthen your core, you need to perform exercises that increase stability. Popular exercises like Crunches and Sit-Ups don't make the cut, because they focus only on the abs. Worse, these exercises force you to yank your head and shoulders off the ground, which can lead to neck strains and rounded shoulders.
There is a way to get six-pack abs while improving your overall core stability to make you a more powerful and balanced athlete. Below are six exercises that I recommend.
This is one of the simplest and best exercises to strengthen and stabilize your core. You have to squeeze your abs and glutes to fight the pull of gravity.
- Assume plank position with elbows on ground directly under shoulders; keep body in straight line
- Hold for specified time
Sets/Duration: 1-2x30-60 seconds
For an additional challenge, prop your feet up on a med ball or in TRX straps.
Spice up the plank by making your body resist some twisting and flexing.
- Assume plank position with forearms on physioball
- Rotate elbows clockwise on physioball to create circle; repeat for specified time
- Rotate elbows counterclockwise on physioball to create circle in opposite direction; repeat for specified time
Sets/Reps: 1-2x30 seconds each direction
This is another great exercise to stabilize the core against rotational forces.
- Assume Push-Up position
- Extend right arm to the side; keep core tight
- Return arm to start position; perform rep with left arm
- Repeat in alternating fashion for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 1-2x8 each side
Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Halos
Use kettlebells to increase core strength.
- Assume half-kneeling position holding kettlebell upside down in front of face; keep core and glutes tight
- Slowly rotate kettlebell clockwise around head until in front of face
- Perform rep in opposite direction
- Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps; perform set with opposite leg forward
Sets/Reps: 1-2x5 each direction
TRX (or Stability Ball) Jackknife
This exercise is tough. Make sure you've progressed through the previous exercises first.
- Assume Push-Up position with feet in TRX straps; keep back flat
- Tuck knees into chest
- Extend knees to return to start position with control
- Repeat for specified reps
Ab Rollouts force your core to stabilize with your arms overhead, improving the connection between the core and upper body.
- Kneel and grasp an ab wheel in front
- Roll wheel forward and lower body until close to ground; keep lower body stationary and back flat
- Roll back to start position
- Repeat for specified reps
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