A tight, flat midsection is the goal of virtually everyone with a dream of owning a strong, flexible physique. It is also the domain that gives elite athletes much of their power. The exercises these pros perform are going to help you build the same, enviably lean and sculpted midsection, while developing core strength.
But which exercises are the best for you? There are hundreds of core exercises that specifically target the core. You’ve probably tried most: presses, leg lifts, planks, arches and variations of these. But there are many other exercises that similarly challenge the external and internal obliques, transversis and rectus abdominis.
Here are 4 of my favorites.
1) Loaded Carries
Kettlebells are ideal for performing loaded carries. One of my favourites is called a “suitcase.”
It is more challenging than side planks and is also a great next step exercise from the basic plank. Grasp the kettlebell just as you would a suitcase, in one hand. Keep the shoulders level and core tight. Do not try to compensate with the side that is not carrying the kettlebell. Walk the length of a room, maintaining perfect form. Repeat for the opposite side.
2) Ball Slams with Medicine Ball
Ball slams are so much fun you hardly realize how challenging they are for your core. They can be done standing or kneeling. It’s also an exercise that requires little skill – meaning anyone can do it.
Ball Slams are also an explosive exercise where energy is transferred via the core. When your core is strong, power from your lower body is more easily transferred to the upper body and vice versa. It’s a total body exercise!
Grasp a medicine ball of a weight of your choosing and, either standing or kneeling, raise the ball high over your head and slam into the ground. Repeat for a set of 10 – 12 reps and 3 sets.
3) Plank Kettlebell Drag Through
Once you have perfected the plank there are numerous variations that increase the challenge. This Kettlebell Drag Through exercise targets the oblique muscle along the outer left and right quadrants of the torso, while also challenging upper and lower abs, transverse abdominus and lower back. It’s a killer!
Get into high plank position, on your hands. Hands should be under your shoulders and back needs to be flat.
Place a kettlebell just outside your left hand with the horn down on the ground. Contract your abs and glutes, while you reach for the kettlebell with your right hand.
Pull the kettlebell under your body over to the right. Don’t twist or roll your body.
Repeat the movement with your left hand.
Perform 8 – 10 reps per side and 3 sets.
4) Basic Core Stabilization And Breathing – 2 minutes
Knowing how to engage your core and still breathe properly is the key to understanding how to fire core muscles every time. It is the most basic of exercises and yet the most critical. If you don’t understand how to perform this movement, you will end up pushing your abdomen outward instead of contracting it tightly in.
Stabilizing the core really means, stabilizing your spine. For anyone with low back issues, and that was me once too, this exercise is a must. Couple that with proper breathing and you will get those enviable abs.
Hollow your abdomen or pull your belly button into your spine. This is called “hollowing” or an “ab vacuum.” Abdominal bracing, means contracting your core and your lower back muscles simultaneously. Ladies you can also add a pelvic floor contraction to this movement. In fact, the best way to practice hollowing, stabilization and pelvic floor contractions, is to lie on the floor and perform Kegels. Be sure to hold the contraction for a count of three before relaxing and repeating. Perform 8 – 10 reps and 3 sets. Also try to incorporate these subtle moves every time you perform any exercises.
I’m happy to say that with a deliberate focus on targeting my deep core during training, I have been able to rid myself of low back pain and find myself stronger in all tasks and workouts. For more awesome ab flattening exercises join my membership. You’ll discover how to use a bender ball and what Dead Bugs are. I’ll bet you’re curious.
See you soon!
P.S. Do you have a favorite and powerful core exercise? Won’t you share your comments below?