Monday, May 24, 2010

Everything Abs

Tranverse abdominus and external & internal
obliques not highlighted. (like you care)

This post would have been a quick fix, but I think it covers much more than the typical write-up for that series.

So, what can a good set of abs really do? Talk of course.

Kidding aside, abs are at the center of your body and are important for stability/posture, glute activation, and improving performance of lifts.

The problem

Core training is often thought of as crunches, side bends, bench twists, and leg-ups (or whatever it is when you try flailing up like a fish).

Awesomely ineffective, especially when something like crunches are performed wrong. It becomes a waste of time in the gym. And honestly, what's more annoying than spending time doing exercises that don't deliver results?

Now while the title says "everything" in it, I won't be posting every single detail I know. God knows it's hard enough to get people to visit this blog, so the last thing I need to do is bore them to death with transverse abdominus recruitment, rotation vs. anti-rotation, and other stuff.

The solution

I've tried a decent amount of core exercises. Some are great, some are terrible. Here's a list of the ones - assuming you haven't - that are worth trying:

- Timed planks: The standard floor version is the simplest. Variations include having your elbows on an exercise/BOSU ball, feet elevated, one foot raised, alternating arm raises, and much more. The possibilities are endless. Be creative.

No need to hold a plank for more than 60 seconds at most. The longer time, the less sets I say. And the opposite for the reverse, meaning more sets for less time.

- Side planks: Similar to above. [More variations]

- Dead bugs: Along with the plank and chops, I feel this is the best exercise to start with to build a strong core foundation.

- Reverse crunches: For you crunch fiends. Use a weight or something solid to hold and anchor yourself. The less grounded or lighter the object, the harder it is to perform.

- Variety of cable chops1: These are the most underused. They can be performed standing, on your knees, or in a split stance. The idea is to use your core to resist movement.

- Roll outs: The higher the placement of your hands, the easier. Using a barbell with 45 lb. plates on each side is less difficult than 5 lbs. on each side instead.

- Overhead medicine ball slams: Perform standing or kneeling but either way, it doesn't get more fun or easier than this. Lift it overhead, then slam down as hard as you can. Make sure the ball doesn't rebound so high that it ends up hitting you in the face.
1Search "chop" to see variations.

Sets can be anywhere from 3-6 with 6-12 reps. Experiment around to get an idea of how to do the movements.

Now, this isn't exhaustive. It's what I've tried and got results from. There are a ton of other exercises like the Turkish get-up - which I will be trying - and Pallof presses (which felt average). Some I didn't include for the sake of most people's inability to perform them.

Either way, this list is a solid start for most people who have stuck to the traditional core training.

The end result? Somewhere to wash your clothes instead of something to set your bowl on.

assume she's pregnant.


  1. Awesome post Niel... I got one more that I love banded jack knifes

  2. Nice find.

    When I hear jack knife, I automatically think of the exercise ball version. The banded version you posted looks like it offers more benefits with less chance of screwing up.

    Thanks Brendon.

  3. Pretty awesome posts... Was just looking into an ab/core routine :) ... thanks

  4. No problem. Watch out for cramps when doing sets or sneezes the day after. Those are the male equivalents to going through labor.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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