Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The 5 Best Core Exercises for a Solid Abs

In this tutorial I look at what I consider to be the most effective core exercises. Some of these movements are more advanced, so I suggest you check out my Fat Loss Report for some progressions to help you prepare for those exercises. (Sign up at www.StrongerAndLeaner.com).

Almost everyone who is interested in getting fit and staying in shape also wants to develop a toned, solid midsection. Strengthening the core muscle group can enhance ones appearance (the much sought after “six-pack”), improve athletic performance, reduce back pain, and maintain better posture. Whether the goal is functional or aesthetic, the quest for a stronger core is very popular. Unfortunately, many people don’t know the most effective ways to reach that goal and end up wasting time doing hundreds of crunches or one of the dozens of other abdominal exercise variations. Training your core this way can take a long time and delivers minimal results.

I subscribe to the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short n’ Simple) philosophy in order to accomplish more in less time. To accomplish this we need to implement a simpler, more efficient approach using more effective exercises. In this chapter I will explain the basic anatomy and function of your core musculature and describe what I believe to be the most effective exercises to train your core, and why.
First of all, let’s take a look at the core structure and anatomy. The core muscles are the muscles in the body's center of gravity that support the spine and torso and they are also the muscles that initiate movement.

Often people only consider their “core” as being their abdominals; however, the “core” musculature includes your entire midsection, including the following:

•Rectus Abdominis. - The abdominal muscle group referred to as your “six-pack”.

•Internal and External Obliques. - These run in opposite directions to each other and are on the abdomen and sides.

•Transverse Abdominis (TVA). - This is the deepest layer of abdominal muscles that wrap around the waist, located underneath the obliques.

•Multifidus & Erector Spinae. - The lower back muscles that support and rotate the spine.

•Hip Flexors and Abductors. - The muscles of the hip and inner thigh.

•Gluteus Medius, Minimus, & Maximus. - These muscles are often referred to as the butt or “glutes”.

You don’t need to remember the names of these muscles, but it’s nice to be able to visualize where they are on your body so you can get an idea of how to train them. These are the muscles in the front, sides, and back of your midsection that run vertically, diagonally, and even horizontally (the transverse abs). The exercises I will be describing to you will target each of these main areas.

The basic action of these muscles when they concentrically contract in isolation is to flex, extend, rotate and side-bend the torso. Their primary function is actually to resist motion in these planes, and to maintain posture and stabilize the midsection and spine during functional activities. Considering this you need to challenge these muscles isometrically as well, by including exercises which force you to resist movement and maintain core stability.

Let’s look at what I consider to be the most effective core exercises. Some of these movements are more advanced, so I will also suggest exercise progressions to help you prepare for them. Here the Five Best Core Exercises:

1.Power wheel rollouts (resisting extension)
2.Power wheel knee tucks (resisting extension)
3.Hanging knee raises (flexion)
4.Resist the Twist (resisting rotation isometrically)
5.Deadlifts (extension; resisting flexion)

( http://www.StrongestCore.com )

With these basic movements you are targeting all the primary core muscles.

Placing the body in an extended position and adding load has been shown to be the best method for stimulating abdominal strength. During Power Wheel roll-outs the core muscles are engaged isometrically to resist the extension, which makes this an extremely productive AND functional movement.

As part of an integrated approach to exercise and nutrition, these exercises will contribute significantly to a achieving a stronger, leaner looking waistline. They can be incorporated into a circuit training program, or they can be performed separately as a core workout.

The exercises I’ve shown you were chosen based on solid research, exercise science, as well as personal experience. They were not picked at random because they looked cool in a fitness magazine. Building powerful core muscles will also increase your gains in every area of your workouts, because your core is the central area of your body which supports every other part of your body.

Josh Hewett

Note: this article is a short excerpt from the FPA Report on Fat Loss Strategies. For the free full report, subscribe at www.StrongerAndLeaner.com.


Anonymous said...

Like this video a lot. Very informative. I am surprised that the power wheel is so integral to solid abs. Good to know. I would love to know your 5 Best Core Exercises if someone doesn't have access to equipment or a gym. This would also be very helpful.
Thanks Josh!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment... good question! The Power Wheel simply a tool for more effective training. The only reason I like it is b/c it works, and is supported by an independent study from Berkley University (rated it highest in core muscular activation out of many exercises). The link to the study is at http://www.StrongestCore.com.

If no equipment (not even a ball, tubing, or weights?), I'd choose:
-V sit ups
-Reverse Crunches (hip lifts)
-Hip Crossovers (lateral leg lowering)
-Plank and bridge variations

I hope that helps! Email me if you want more details on those exercises.
Stay Fit!

Conor Kelly said...

Great video Josh...The Power Wheel is an excellent tool, I agree. Highly recommend it. Our clients have seen a big improvement in core strength since we started using it.

Unknown said...

Thank you Josh for core video, I've tried some of those moves with a stability ball,but I want to purchase the ab wheel with my income tax return!!
One ab exercise that helped demolish my muffin tops,is getting in a plank position(forearms,hands alternating)and pretend your're crawling up a wall like Spiderman(touching knee to elbow if possible).The "Spidee Crawl"!!

Unknown said...

Nice... that's a great one too! I love plank variations and progressions!