Today I want to bust some myths about working your abs and doing endless crunches.
Everyone these days seems to want a six pack and think endless crunches and sit ups will get you there. Lets get one thing straight, unless you change your diet and your training you ain’t gonna see them.
You need to strip away the body fat because guess what? every one has a six pack, it is just covered over and the only way to see it is to strip back the fat and put some hard work in.
Once you are nailing your nutrition, you can enhance their look through proper exercise selection.
So forget about endless crunches, the best way is to focus on strength and stability. If this area isn’t stable you are going to end up with a whole host of potential issues including muscle imbalances and lower back pain.
The following exercises will definitely give you a rock hard midsection….
- Ab Wheel Rollouts – A simple exercise with minimal equipment. A Power wheel is good for this or you can buy a cheap wheel from a sports store, you can even use 2 dumbbells or even a barbell. This is a great exercise to hit the midsection. from your knees or standing place the wheel out on the ground in front of you and whilst bracing your abs roll forwards as far as you can, you are looking get your head in between your arms, pause and roll back. The key hear is to roll back and curl your abs tight, don’t try keep your back straight on the way back. To make it harder, work from a standing position.
- L-Sit – Commonly performed by male gymnasts, so you know that these are going to work. Support yourself in the top position of a dip or from a dead hang on a pull up station. Bend both knees 90 degrees and raise your thighs until they are parallel with the floor. As this gets easier work your way toward extending your legs. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds per set. Or start from the floor by sitting with your legs out in front, keeping your back straight, arms on the floor either side of your body, engage the core muscles and try taking your legs off the floor. Progress this by using stools and benches of equal height, bar dips or even suspension straps. Anyone who has seen a male gymnast perform this exercise knows this will give you rock solid abs. I like performing this whilst doing chin ups, a great bang for buck exercise. If you’re not strong enough to do this on rings you can use dip bars or even two benches or stools of equal height.
- Deadlift – The major muscles of the midsection work damn hard when picking heavy weight off the floor. Legendary powerlifting coach Louis Simmons constantly talked about the importance of strong obliques in locking out a deadlift.
- Suspended Pushup – There is always core engagement when performing push ups if done correctly, but using suspension straps, such as rings, trx or a zTrainer increases this greatly by adding an unstable element to the equation. Set up the straps so that the handles are a foot of the ground. Using a 12″ box for your feet, get into push up position. Always remember to squeeze your glutes and abs to create stability through the core when performing any push up. Do not let your hips sag or stick your butt in the air on this one!
- Farmers Walk – Pick a distance of anywhere between 20-50 metres/yards, grab a pair of dumbbells, kettlebells or farmers walk equipment and walk. Make sure your posture is solid, chest up and shoulder back, head looking forwards.
- One Arm Overhead Press – Unilateral overhead movements are great for working the midsection hard, this exercise will work your obliques hard! Make sure you pause a few seconds on lockout to take full advantage. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell and simply press it straight overhead.
- One Arm Flat Dumbbell Press – The key to this is stability. Take a flat bench and lay down offsetting your midsection to counter balance using one dumbbell in your hand. The non-working arm should be out to the side to counter balance. Make sure your feet are planted solidly, Bring the dumbbell down and forcibly explode upwards. Do a few heavy sets and you will really feel the midsection working hard.
These are 7 of my favourite core exercises, I find that they are much more functional than doing sit ups and crunches.
Give those a try and let me know how they work out for you. I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results. If you have any questions post them below or hit me up on Twitter.
To your Strength and Health