Everyone wants that washboard stomach.  Some might want it for more attention at the pool or beach.  Others might want it for more attention from the opposite sex.  But there are other reasons outside of vanity to want a strong and lean midsection.

From a performance standpoint, having a strong core will help you maintain the optimal alignment of your pelvis and torso, and help with power transfer to the body’s prime movers – the hips and shoulders.  Think about a golfer who has a massive 300 yard drive off the tee, or that person in your gym who can lift and carry impressive amounts of weight.  A solid, strong core is literally at the center of these things.  And improving or maximizing your health, mobility and performance will depend on improving and maximizing your core strength.  The problem, though, is that many people too often use a “movement” approach to their core strength training instead of a “stability” approach.

Indeed, ditching abdominal exercises like crunches and incorporating more that require stability will not only help you carve out a leaner six pack, but also increase performance that you can use outside of the gym.  Check out the video below where I highlight SIX core stability exercises we love at TFW Central.  These might be the best core exercises you’ve never done!

 

Here are the exercises, why they work and how to do them…

KETTLEBELL PULLOVER

This is a natural movement we all did as babies that aligns fullsizerender-48the extremities and loads the trunk; activating and strengthening the core.  Make sure you fight to keep your lower back FLAT on the ground as you do the exercise.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT – Lie on your back and raise your legs.  Bend your knees 90 degrees and spread them apart while keeping the bottoms of your feet together.  Lift a kettlebell straight above your head, holding the sides of the handle in both hands.  Lower the weight behind you while exhaling through your mouth, stopping a minimum of a foot off the floor.  Hold for 30 seconds max and lift it back above your head, inhaling through your nose.

KETTLEBELL RACKED CARRY

fullsizerender-49When you walk with weight in the racked position, your core has to work extra hard to keep you from folding forward, which makes this one of the most effective exercises for building strong abdominals and a healthy back.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT – Grab two kettlebells(you can also cradle a heavy medicine ball) and “rack” them, holding them in front of your chest with your elbows tucked, palms facing in and the bottom of each bell resting between your biceps and forearms.  Walk between 60 and 100 feet.  Rest and repeat.

 

KNEELING VERTICAL PALLOF PRESS

fullsizerender-53This is one of my favorites, as it forces your abdominals to battle against the backwards pull of the band stretching as you press it up.  Plus, it will really hit your shoulders and triceps.  The first time i tried this one, my triceps were sore for two days!

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT – Attach a superband(you can also use a cable/weight stack system) to an anchor point and turn away from it while holding the band in your hands on either side of your head. Drop down to your knees. Brace your core hard and press overhead and slightly out until your arms are fully extended. Pause for 2-3 seconds and lower back to the start.

TRX KNEES TO ELBOWS

fullsizerender-51This one forces you to stabilize the core while moving at the hips and knees.  Suspending the feet in the TRXramps things up considerably, and builds the kind of core strength you’ll need for other major compound lifts.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT – Secure your feet in the foot cradles of a TRX suspension system.  Roll over into the pushup position.  Without rounding your back or letting the hips sag, pull your knees toward your elbows.  Pause and return to the starting position, alternating sides.

SUPERBAND SIDE PLANK ROW

fullsizerender-50Pulling weight towards you in the side plank position engages your obliques, abdominals and the big pulling muscles of the back and arms.  This big “bang for your buck” move will boost core stability and help build a better looking back.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT – Attach a superband to an anchor point and face it in the side plank position, resting your weight on your forearm.  To assume the starting position, grab the band with one hand and your arm outstretched.  Pull your hand towards your ribs, stopping when you get there.  Return to the starting position.

3 WAY AB ROLLOUTS

fullsizerender-52Ab rollouts are the king of core stability exercises.  They start with stretching out the abs and obliques and end with a forceful contraction.  These you might feel for DAYS so start and progress slowly.  **Work from the knees and only roll out as far as you can without your hips sagging.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT – Kneel down and grab the handles of an ab wheel, holding them directly under the shoulders.  Brace your core hard and squeeze your glutes even harder as you roll the wheel forward.  Pause and pull your hands back under your shoulders without “sitting back” on your heels, which causes you to lose core tension.  Work once to the left, once down the middle and once to the right for one complete rep.

Update your core training by adding a couple of these in each week.  Enjoy!

Zach Brace – Owner, TFW Central