This is a guest post by Shane McGrotty of *Rep Fitness* He has been training in power lifting, Olympic lifting, and CrossFit for several years.
Everyone knows that to have visible abs, a good clean diet is absolutely essential to get rid of the fat covering them. However, this article is about creating bullet proof abs, not flimsy beach abs. The type of abs that are useful in sports, taking punches to the stomach, and that make for a strong core. Having a strong core helps prevent back pain, so don’t skimp on regular abdominal work!
1. Static Holds
Having the strength to hold your body in a certain position is key in several ways. There are examples of static hold training being useful for every day situations, and for athletic endeavors. When you’re driving, activating your core to support your spine will release stress on your back, and bring your shoulders into better alignment. When you are rock climbing and stabilizing your body to keep it from moving, or trying not to move your upper torso back and forth while running… static holds are everywhere. Some key exercises to perform are planks, both on your hands in the push up position, on your elbows, and on your sides using one hand. An even more advanced position is raising oneleg on your side – known as the starfish pose
which causes a lot of imbalance and seriously engages your core. Still too easy? Try adding a weight vest, or holding a dumbbell or kettlebell overhead with your free arm.
2. Core Twists
Whether you are looking over your shoulder in your car to make sure no one is in your blind spot, or running and turning to catch a ball over your shoulder, you have to be able to twist your midsection and still be strong. Some of the best exercises for this include the Russian twist –
– which can be done with anything in your hands. Another great exercise includes laying down on the floor and keeping your legs off the ground and touching them side to side on the floor, keeping your body at a 90 degree angle.
3. Old School Strengthening Methods
There are new tools for strengthening your core that come out every year. However, the old school methods of training your abs are still some of the best. These include hanging leg raises, decline weighted sit ups, dragon flags, and ab rollers. There are hundreds of ways to make these easier, and hundreds of ways to make them harder. Don’t skimp out on doing these every week.
4. External Loading
When you load up 200 lbs. for a front squat, your core is heavily engaged. Getting your body comfortable with having a great deal of external weight on it, and engaging your core to protect your back during the squat is important. This is an often overlooked aspect of core training. Some people believe in fatiguing your core before you start your total body movements, while others believe you should work directly on your core afterwards. My philosophy is that you should constantly bombard your body in different ways, so mix it up. If you pre-fatigue your core, do a conservative squat or deadlift workout to ensure you do not hurt yourself the first few times. Either way, full body exercises like the squat and deadlift strengthen your core and should not be overlooked.
5. Explosive Power Movements
While crunches with a little ball under your lower back is popular, and may help your abs a bit, it isn’t going to get you bullet proof abs. Using your abs in an explosive way is key to building up raw strength and power. Using *slam balls*
is an excellent example of this. It is a full body exercise where you throw down a ball partially filled with sand of up to 50 pounds, and pick it up and throw it back down again from overhead as seen in the video. You do this as violently as you can. It is not only a good stress reliever, but they are designed for this, and it is an exhausting exercise for your body and abs. Take the ball downstairs in your basement, or in your backyard and have some fun! Throw it back and forth differently with a friend. You can throw it from the side, overhead, bring it up through your legs and up over your head, straight up, pick a target you have to reach in the air, etc. the possibilities are endless… but they all should be done explosively with your mind focused on using your core.
Remember, all 5 different methods target your core in different ways, so make sure to perform all of the exercises on a regular basis. Skip the crunches, and add these exercises for fully developed core strength.
Shane McGrotty is the owner of *Rep Fitness* where you can find fitness, CrossFit, and weight lifting equipment for sale. He has been training in power lifting, Olympic lifting, and CrossFit for several years. Check Rep Fitness out on Facebook.