Tired of Crunches? Use These Exercises to Strengthen Your Core!
Abdominal, or “core” training as it’s more commonly called these days, is more than crunches and planks. In fact, you’re missing out big time if you’re only doing these exercises!
When talking about abdominal muscles, most people immediately think of the “6 pack” (rectus abdominis) and the obliques. That’s it, right?
Yes, these are major abdominal muscles, but there are several more. If you want to talk “core training, then you also have to include the glutes and other trunk muscles that you can’t see in the mirror.
“But how? How do I train these muscles and give them the attention they need?”
Do more than crunches and straight planks!
Before I jump into the exercises, let me say this: abdominal training IS NOT complicated. You do not need much equipment, or impressive looking exercises that look good on social media but do little more than give you a nice “burn” in your stomach. Remember, your goal with these exercises is to improve strength and stability that transfers to other exercises and activities you enjoy.
It is also worth mentioning that abdominal exercises DO NOT make your stomach flatter or your waist smaller. If your goal is to see these muscles, better nutrition needs to be your priority. One more time, for the people in the back:
Ab exercises don’t make your stomach flatter or your waist smaller. Focus on better nutrition and fat loss if you want to see these muscles.
Okay, onto the exercises!
Chops are a great exercise to work your obliques. You can do them kneeling to focus just on the abdominals, or do them standing to get the glutes involved. Do them starting low and finishing high, or the opposite. I’d recommend doing one from each direction. One way or another, just do them, and do them right! Start with 2-3 sets of 15 each side.
Your obliques are responsible for rotational movements, like the chop above. Did you know that they are also meant to resist rotation? They are, and that’s what this exercise is all about. Make sure your weight is even between your feet, and start with your hands about chest level at the center of your body. Push your arms straight forward, pause, and return to the start. Make sure you aren’t “stirring a pot” when doing this exercise. You can also hold for time, making this exercise kind of like a standing side plank. Try 2-3 sets of 15-20 for the press, and 2-3 sets of 30 seconds for the hold.
This exercise is very simple, but when done right it is very effective and challenging! Just like the obliques can resist rotation, your abs/rectus abdominis can resist extension (arching your back). The goal of this exercise is to move your arm and leg without arching your back or losing tension in your abs. This exercises tends to be a little frustrating at first, so be slow and deliberate with your movements. Start with 2-3 sets of 15 each side.
Another simple but effective exercise. This is similar to the dead bug, but from a different position. Again, the goal is to move your arm and leg without arching your back, but this time there is the added challenge of balance. Try 2-3 sets of 15 each side to start.
This is not a complete list of different core exercises, but it’s a good place to start. Add some to your program today for more variety and stronger abs!