There are different schools of thought when it comes to what actually constitutes as your “core”.
In the spirit of simplicity, we’ll call it all the stuff in the middle.
The average “ab workout”
A few sit-ups here, a few bicycle kicks there. That’s the extent of most “core training”. The average workout might look something like this:
- Go to the gym
- Lift weights
- Pump out a few crunches for 3 min before heading out the door
There’s a better way. Here are four tips to improve your core training.
1. Do it at the beginning of your workout
Pick 1-2 core-specific exercises and do them first.
Most All of my clients do some sort of core exercise after their warm-up. It gets the blood flowing and is a great pre-cursor to lifting weights, given how involved the core is in strength training.
You want to do the important things early in the session and grab the low-hanging fruit first. For someone who always finds a way to skip “abs”, try checking it off the list early and just get it in. You’ll feel way better.
2. Do anti-movement exercises
Anti-movement exercises involve what the name implies: resisting movement. Crazy, eh?
If you think of what most conventional “ab exercises” look like, they usually involve a lot of flexion (think sit ups and crunches). Conversely, the emphasis during anti-movement exercises is always spinal integrity.
There are three main anti-movement exercises your program should include:
- Anti-Extension (resisting extension in the lower back)
- Anti-Rotation (resisting twisting of the torso)
- Anti-Lateral Flexion (resisting bending to the side)
Read my T-Nation article on Real Core Training for Lifters HERE for more info on anti-movement exercises.
3. Do one-sided exercises
One of the most simple and effective ways to train your core is also the most overlooked. And that’s unilateral (one-sided) exercises.
Unilateral movements create an offset balance and minimize your base of support. Both of which challenge your core stabilizers during seemingly simple exercises (like lunges or single arm presses).
Seriously, try it for yourself.
Next time you’re doing a dumbbell bench press, hold one dumbbell and press one arm at a time. Your core will be fighting hard to stabilize your body throughout your set.
4. Lift heavy
Powerlifters, rejoice. At the end of the day, sometimes you just gotta lift some heavy shit.