As you likely know, your your center mass (trunk/core) is the foundation of strength-building, as it’s from there you build stability. And without stability, you can’t perform higher-level lifts or movements. If you don’t build your core, you’re asking your body to add more mass to a weak foundation/support system.
One thing I’ve often had to correct people on is their core is not just their abs. Those muscles are only a part of your core. Your core muscles include your thorax, your upper/middle/lower back, your hips and your glutes.
There are many ways to work the core outside of sit-ups and today I’d like to give you three workouts that do exactly that.
#1: WEIGHTED ROPE PULLS FROM PLANK POSITION
This movement is a hardcore variation on the plank that will really amp up your core routine.
For this workout, the plank position I’m referring to is what you’re in when you’re at the top of an unassisted push-up (as shown in the picture above). You’ll keep your body rigid—but not so much you’re overly-tensed up.
Have a 20 to 25 foot rope extended out in front of you with a weigh of some kind tied to the opposite end—a bumper plate, a kettlebell, dumbbell—it really doesn’t matter, but it there must be resistance. If it’s too easy, add more weight/resistance.
While in the plank position, pull the rope towards you in a slow, steady, controlled manner, until the weight lies in line beneath your shoulder. Engage your lats, and resist the urge to twist your torso and hips as you lift your pulling arm off the ground to pull the rope. Maintain your form (don’t let your hips droop to the ground).
Reset the rope and repeat with the opposite arm/hand.
#2: SUPINE MEDICINE BALL KICK
Start this drill by lying on your back and pinching the medicine ball between your elbow and knee on the same side of your body. Basically, this is a variation on the bicycle kick workout—but you’ll be keeping one leg static while you work the other.
For this drill, the weight of the ball is really insignificant as it’s the diameter of the ball that is really helping you to set up your body to hold this position. If you’re properly set up, there should be no space between your low back and the ground when performing this movement.
While lying on your back, bring your right knee up towards your stomach, then place the ball on your knee and hold it in place with your right elbow. Holding the ball in place, slowly bicycle kick with your left leg. After 10-15 kicks, switch sides. Repeat for 3-6 sets.
The act of you having to pinch the medicine ball is going to force your hips into a posterior pelvic tilt eliminating any unwanted stress on your low back and redirecting all the tension and force into your core midsection and abs.
#3: GLIDE DISK MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
This is a rather unique drill for you to perform and I guarantee you that you’ll feel the activation throughout your midsection, even if you’re already factoring in mountain climbers on a regular basis.
To perform this movement you’ll need to get your hands on a pair of glide discs. One simple solution for this is to head over to your local hardware store and pick up a pair of furniture mover discs.
If you’re unfamiliar with the mountain climber exercise, watch the video below.
To start this drill, simply get into an upright push-up position and place the balls of your feet onto the discs. Obviously you’ll have to do this on either a carpeted, or turf-like surface to allow for the discs to slide as you perform the movement.
Once in the upright push-up position simply pull your knees up to your chest alternating them back and forth to run through the set.
A few things to note when performing mountain climbers:
- Make sure to keep your body streamlined NOT lifting your hips above your head
- Fully extend your legs when pushing the discs away from your body.
- Perform the drill faster for more of a conditioning effect.
- Perform the drill slower to activate your core for more strength.
You can’t develop any significant level of strength and function without first developing a strong core midsection.
Any weakness in your core midsection may cause you to fold up like a tent and incur an injury when exerting yourself either in athletic competition, or during physically stressful life scenarios.
Are you focusing on effectively strengthening your core at the moment?
What core strengthening drills are you using to optimize your strength and function?
Post up and share in the comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEALgrinderPT coach Brandon Richey is a certified strength and conditioning coach, author, and founder of Brandon Richey Fitness.
He has worked with thousands of athletes over his 17 years of experience, developing fitness training programs for beginners to professional and D-1 level collegiate athletes at the University of Georgia.
He also trains MMA and Muay Thai athletes, both professional and amateur.
QUESTION: Coach, I’m getting back pain at work and a friend said I need to do more work on my core. Do you have any workouts you can recommend?
ANSWER: Check out this article—CrossFit Ab and Core Workouts.
QUESTION: I want to start training with a sandbag. Do you have info on how I can make one for myself?
ANSWER: Yes—we have a great article about how to make a DIY sandbag for workouts.