Let’s face it, everyone wants six-pack abs. It may not be your number one training priority, but admit it… if you could clap your hands and suddenly have a lean, solid, chiseled midsection, I’m sure I’d be hearing a lot of applause! I don’t blame you; developing a strong, muscular core can certainly enhance your appearance and sex appeal, improve athletic performance, reduce back pain, and help your posture. Unfortunately, so many people don’t have a clue about the best ways to get those rock hard abs, and end up wasting time doing some useless exercises or wasting money on one of those infomercial “ab-blaster” gimmicks.
Let’s look at a better way to get your gut in shape. What we really need is an efficient training plan using more effective exercises. In conjunction with a solid nutrition plan (which I have discussed in a previous article), these exercises will help you sculpt some enviable abdominals!
1. Power wheel rollouts
2. Power wheel knee tucks
3. Hanging knee raises
4. Resist the Twist
With these 5 basic movements you are targeting all the main core muscles.
The Power Wheel is endorsed by many other leading strength coaches and trainers and it’s now one of my favorite tools for training the core. It was also rated as the “Best Core Trainer in the World” by an independent study at the University of California, Berkeley. Check out the study here: http://top-form-fitness.com/pwrwheelstudy.pdf. If you’re sick of all of the “ab” gimmicks on the market, this simple piece of equipment is the real deal.
Rollouts can also be performed with a basic “ab-wheel” that you can pick up at Walmart or almost any fitness shop. The rollouts are performed with your knees on the ground and your hands holding the handles on each side of the wheel. Begin with a flat back and the wheel below your shoulders. Before you start to roll out, straighten your hips and contract your abs to keep your back flat and your hips tucked in. Keep your core tight throughout the movement.
Extend fully then pull yourself back to the start position keeping your arms straight during the entire exercise. You will feel tension in your torso, arms and lats. As you become stronger you can extend your range until you can touch your chest to the ground.
This is another great Power Wheel exercise that involves resisting extension through your torso, except this time you place your feet in the foot pedals. Once your feet are secured in the Power Wheel foot attachments, hold yourself in a pushup position with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and your legs extended straight out. Don’t allow your back to cave in during this movement.
Now roll the wheel in by bending at the hips while lifting your butt upwards. Keep your legs straight and your abs contracted during the movement. Once you have rolled in as far as you can, extend your legs back out again and repeat. This exercise can also be performed with bent knees, as a knee tuck variation.
The hanging knee raise is a classic exercise that many people do incorrectly, but when done right it is safe and effective. You can hold onto a chinup bar or use those elbow “ab” straps that wrap around your arms and hook onto the overhead bar. Many gyms also have something called a Roman Chair, where you can rest your upper body on elbow pads and a back support pad. As long as your legs are hanging below you it will work.
Next, contract your abdominals and lift both knees up toward your chest and flex a little at the waist. Your knees should be bent on the way up, and then extend on the way down. Perform this exercise with slow control, keeping your abs tight and your back flat.
To get a truly powerful, toned core, you need to work on your rotational muscles as well. This is a variation of another great core exercise called the Pallof Press, or Torque Press. I call it Resist the Twist … it’s just simpler.
Stand facing perpendicular to a cable machine holding the handle of the cable (or use resistance bands) with both hands in front of your chest. Start with both arms bent, holding the handle close to your chest. Then extend both arms straight out in front of you and brace your core against the rotational pull of the cable. Hold this position for about 5 seconds without moving and keep your core tight, your arms straight, and your back straight. Then bring the hands in toward your chest again to rest, and repeat.
Maybe you didn’t think of the deadlift as a core exercise, but it sure is an awesome compound movement that requires bracing of your abs and really works your posterior chain (the other half of your core). The deadlift works almost every muscle in your body, especially your lower body, back, and core. The remaining muscles are involved in stability control. I believe the deadlift should be included in most training programs in some form.
Of course, technique is very important with the deadlift. Start by standing with the bar in front of you, so that it is over top of your feet. Use a slightly narrower than shoulder width stance with your feet facing forwards. Lean forward to grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your knees bent and your back flat. Stick out your butt and chest. Lift the bar to a standing position using your legs and back muscles, keeping your arms straight and back flat. The bar stays close to the body during the lift. At the top, contract your hips and open up your chest to complete the lift. Lower the bar with control.
Those are my 5 Killer Core Exercises. As part of complete training and nutrition plan, these exercises will help you achieve a stronger, leaner, solid-looking waistline. If your goal is to get cut and jacked, I suggest you incorporate these exercises into a circuit training routine, but they can also be performed separately as a core workout on their own.
I chose these exercises based on research, biomechanics, as well as my own personal experience. They were not picked at random because they looked cool in a fitness magazine. But the best proof is to try them out yourself. The nice thing about building powerful core muscles is that it will also increase your gains in every other area of your workouts, because your core supports movement in every other part of your body.
Written by CutAndJacked.com specialist writer: Josh Hewett,
Websites: StrongerAndLeaner.com, top-form-fitness.com
photocredits: Charles Lowthian