Proper Core Training
Training your core can be a chore to the average lifter. After a hard workout of lifting weights, the last thing on most guys minds is a dragged out core routine which calls for a ton of repetitions. Essentially you should treat your abs like any other muscle group. I never recommend over-training your abs but try working them 2-3 times a week with rest days in between. Doing more abdominal workouts will not give you a six pack but a proper balance between weight training, cardio & proper nutrition will give you a six pack. Your abs muscles are made up of your rectus abdominals, internal oblique, external oblique and transverse abdominals.
•Rectus Abdominals – These are the muscles the make up your “6 pack”. Their job is to bend your back forward, the same movement involved in a basic crunch.
•Internal and External Obliques – These muscle wrap around like a belt, their job is to twist your body and bend your back to the side. The best way to engage these muscles are in torso twisting movements like a “woodchopping” motion.
•Transverse Abdominals – A very deep muscle that acts like a weight belt or back brace to stabilize your spine and support proper posture.
When core training is neglected, your stability and strength suffers. By having a stronger core, you can prevent lower back injuries when doing exercises like squats and dead-lifts.
Here are a few tips on getting more out of your core training:
•Try bringing a stability ball around with you at the gym, between sets of strength training add in 15-20 ball crunches instead of chatting or grabbing a drink.
•Try sitting on a stability ball at work or at home instead of a couch or chair. This will immediately activate your core to prevent you from falling off.
•Switch it up! Choose a variety of abdominal exercises so you don’t get bored.
•Include exercises to stimulate all of your abdominal muscle groups. (ex: Crunches for rectus, Plate Twists for internal/external & Planking for Transverse)
Here is my own sample Core training program that I toss in on alternate days. It takes roughly 10-15mins max!
2-4 Rounds of:
1. Lie face down resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor.
2. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows.
3. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels.
4. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your ass from sticking up in the air. Think about pulling your belly button towards your spine.
Stability Ball Crunch (20)
1. Lie face-up with the ball resting under your mid/lower back.
2. Cross your arms over the chest or place them on your collar bone to prevent puling on neck.
3. Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips.
4. As you curl up, keep the ball stable (don’t roll!).
5. Lower back down, getting a stretch in the abs.
Hanging Knee Raises (15-20)
1. Hang from a chin up bar keeping your body straight.
2. Raise your knees up as far as possible.
3. Lower back to starting position. You can add a twist to the top of the movement to involve your obliques more. (Avoid swinging your knees up, do the exercise slowly.)
Do each exercise one after another. Then repeat for 2-4 rounds.