Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Straightforward Core Work

For those of you with strong cores, I thought that I would share an advanced core workout. If you have been doing 50+ crunches in a traditional manner, it is time to shake things up a little!

Here is what I recommend. This is advanced - please exercise caution!

Aside from Exercise A, no equipment is required. If you feel like your current routine is becoming easy, or if the number of reps required for your routine is high, then please try this out.

Core Set

A. Incline Twisting Sit-ups
1x30, moderate height (not extreme)
Think about this exercise in three phases - lift, twist and lower. All phases are done slowly. You go all the way back down on the lower and all the way up on the twist. Do not pull your neck, hands lightly on your ears. Touch right elbow to left knee.

B. Supermans
Body is in "push-up position" except your elbows are together directly under your shoulder. Your elbows and forearms are on the ground at a 90-degree angle with your shoulder, elbows about 6" apart like you are praying (and you will be!). Keep shoulder blades together (no curve in shoulders). Keep hips a little higher than a push up, back perfectly straight, on your toes with legs straight. Hold for 15s, move elbows forward 2" and hold for 15s, move elbows forward another 2" and hold 15s. Your hips may be falling now, keep them up - no bow in the back, keep extending until you really feel it. If you aren't shaking after 45 seconds then technique needs modifications (if body is straight then make sure hips aren't too low). Flip over, 20 slow crunches and repeat the superman. You will feel this one in your back and abs. Shoulder blades should be pulled together, no curve across the backs of your shoulders.

Note: Neck could be more neutral (head lower, in line with spine). Note: Shoulder blades are together, and down.

C. Crunches
Flat on the ground. Knees bent in traditional sit up position (or make a 90-degree angle with feet resting lightly on a wall). If feet against wall then no "lift" from using hip flexors and wall friction. If feet on ground then nothing under legs. Four phase movement (lift, crunch, crunch, lower), hands lightly on ears. Do not pull head/neck. All phases slow.

D. Rear Supermans
Flat on the ground with arms and legs extended. Lift left arm (thumb pointing up) and right leg. Tighten glutes hard, crunch and hold for 10-15s. Lift right arm (thumb up) and left leg. Alternate 4-6 times on each side keeping tension in the glutes, both thumbs pointing up and no rotation of the core.

E. Pikes
Hands together on the ground. Arms straight and directly under your shoulders. Make a triangle. The points of the triangle are your hands, shoulder and feet. On your toes, keep body perfectly straight. Slowly open upwards by rotating torso outwards. Keep both arms straight (one will be coming off the ground). Continue to rotate until you have gone 90 degrees and you are in a "crucifixion" position, arms fully extended (one still on ground). Here I was on the outside of my foot instead of my toes. Hold, return, rotate other direction. Repeat as desired. Tough!

1. Hands together. Good position.

2. Slow movement. 3. Final position - lift upper leg to make advanced.

F. Advanced Pikes
Same thing only lift your outside leg and hold when you are in the fully open position.

G. Obliques
Neck remains neutral, no "pull" on the head. Lift comes solely from oblique.

H. Advanced Obliques
Lie on your side. Support you upper body with your elbow. "Upper" arm flat against your side. Body is straight, chest/hips perpendicular to the ground. Lift hips so waist is about 8-12" off the ground and hold for 10s, lower slowly for 5s back to ready position. Suggest 5 reps each side for beginners. Work yourself up to 10 reps.

Ready position.

Note: Hip off the ground.

Advanced Ideas

1 - Extend Superman phases to 20-30s
2 - Superman, over 5s lower hips slowly until just above the ground (not touching), lift, hold 10s, repeat
3 - Add one more set of Supermans (after D)
4 - Add one more set of Rear Supermans
5 - Add a set of Obliques for each side


1 - Be very careful with the new exercises. They are a different form of muscular contraction from crunches and traditional sit-ups. You can fry yourself for days if you over do it. Trust me on this, I fried myself for four days!

2 - Remember to breathe!

3 - Slow, controlled movements in all core exercises.

4 - I have been doing these exercises at a track where I run easy (and tall) for 100m between sets. If you are at the gym then stand and do some torso stretching in between sets. No rush on these exercises as they are tough.

5 - Go easy when you start. Can't be emphasized too much. If you are "crunched" for four days afterwards remember... you were warned! :-)

6 - Quality over quantity.

Good luck!

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