As I walked into the gym the other day I overheard the “bro’s” talking this and that about ab/core training. I wasn’t really paying all that much attention to what they were saying because when I do I typically can’t get over how stupid they are but that’s not really the point of this post. The real problem issue was after their ab pow-wow I had to watch them do endless crunches and sit ups followed by an hour on the elliptical all while getting a few good looks at themselves in the mirror along the way. I’ve already covered the cardio aspect of getting lean and/or staying lean HERE so I’m not going to go in-depth on any of that again as I stand by everyone I wrote in that post. However, I am going to provide you with a few new tools in your toolbox to build that core so you aren’t one of those “bro’s” that sees zero results from the endless crunches yet continues to hammer away at them.
One of my favorite exercises is a simple plank. Sometimes I wonder if people overlook the plank because of its simplicity and the fact that there really isn’t anything exciting about the plank, but whatever the case people are missing out. With your elbows in-line with your shoulders, raise your hips off the ground while keeping your spine in neutral alignment and simply hold the position. Work your way up to 2-3 sets of 60 seconds a couple of times a week. Chances are you won’t be able to get a full 60 seconds but do what you can and try to beat or match that time the next time you do some planks. In reality you don’t even need to go to a gym to do this, you could simply do a set or two during the commercials of your favorite sitcom or reality show.
Once you’ve reached the point where the normal plank variation has become easy you can add a level of difficulty by performing a plank with your feet elevated on a bench or on the couch if you plan on doing them at home.
Feet Elevated Plank
Another one of my favorite exercises is the Pallof press or belly press, an exercise that I came across and started doing about a year ago. The Pallof press is pretty straight forward. With a slight bend in the knees, big chest, and tight core, perform anywhere between 6-8 reps and turn and face the other way and repeat.
Pallof/Belly Press with a Hold
Another exercise(s) I find myself doing more and more is some type of rollout variation. Everyone has seen the infomercials with the ab wheel or seen the ab wheel hanging around the gym. Believe it or not, the ab wheel is the real deal. I would again caution people about jumping right on to the ab wheel as it can be an extremely challenging core exercise and even dangerous for someone without the proper strength and/or form . Start out using a large swiss ball, followed by a smaller swiss ball, the ab wheel, and finally a barbell. Using basically the same coaching cues, (big chest, tight core, neutral spine) a couple sets of 10-12 reps should do a pretty good job of smoking your core.
Swiss Ball Rollout
Ab Wheel Rollout