A few weeks back, I wrote a guest blog for Eric’s site where he featured two of my favorite core training exercises.
In case you missed the post, you can always check it out here.
As we all know, there are better options to use in your core training that sit-ups and crunches.
In fact, I think there are tons of great exercises out there – the real key is knowing not only a good exercise, but how it can benefit you, and why you should be using it in your program.
As such, here are five core training exercises I feel virtually everyone can benefit from.
Exercise #1 – Wall Press Abs
Wall press abs are a simple, yet effective, core training exercise.
The awesome thing about wall press abs is that you don’t need any equipment. Literally, if you have a wall to press into, you can do this exercise!
One of the big benefits you get from performing wall press abs is learning to control the pelvis while reaching overhead. Many clients and athletes deal with stiff lats, so going overhead can be problematic as it yanks them into lumbar extension and an anterior pelvic tilt.
When you perform this exercise correctly (cuing an exhale, engaging the lower abs, etc.) you work to improve core stability while reaching overhead. BOOM!
Exercise #2 – Reaching Dead Bug
You’ve probably seen the dead bug about a thousand times before, but I think this specific variation is a nice addition to your arsenal.
When we add a reach into an exercise, it does a few things for us:
- Engages the serratus anterior,
- Drives the rib cage back, and
- Repositions our abdominals, putting them in a more optimal position.
Lie on your back and flex the hips and knees t0 set-up. From there, think about reaching long through the upper back and exhaling. Before you ever move you should feel the abdominals engage to a high degree.
Think about reaching long the whole time, not only through the arms but through the moving leg as well. This video will give you some more insight as well.
Exercise #3 – Landmine Press
Landmine pressing is a staple at IFAST, and I’d assume, at CSP as well.
And for good reason!
The landmine press is a great workaround for people who struggle going overhead, and as mentioned above, it works on developing a proper reaching pattern.
However, most people only look at the landmine press for it’s upper body benefits, and not enough for it’s core stability benefits.
When landmine pressing, change your entire thought process. Put the 45’s away and drop down to 25’s or 10’s. From there, set-up in a rock-solid half-kneeling position, exhale, and reach long at the midpoint.
Chances are if you start doing the landmine press in this fashion you’ll not only develop the core to a high degree, but probably get more out of the upper body element as well.
Exercise #4 – The Bear
The bear is another favorite of mine. Here you get the benefits of reaching (are we seeing a theme yet?), plus a ton of lower ab involvement.
Now you may be wondering, why the obsession with lower abs?
Well for all my clients and athletes, I’m trying to develop stability and control over the lumbar spine, pelvis and hips. The lower abs (internal obliques and transverse abdominus) are critical for this, as they have a ton of “real estate” on the pelvis.
Quite simply, if you want to control the pelvis (and by extension, the lumbar spine and hips), you need a strong set of lower abs.
Now with that being said, doing draw-ins all day isn’t going to fix the problem. The best way to engage an IO or TVA is to set position via an exhale first.
To do The Bear, set-up in a quadruped position and think about reaching long through the upper back. Round out the spine slightly, and tuck the pelvis underneath you.
From this position, pick the knees up 1″ off the ground, and then hold for a certain period of time (like you would in a plank).
Now one thing people have questions about is this concept of rounding out the lower back. Unfortunately, many of us are so scared of lumbar flexion that we never do it, ever, even if there’s potential benefit involved.
When it comes to lumbar flexion, here are my rules:
- I don’t do it repeatedly (i.e. sit-ups),
- I don’t do it under load (i.e. round back deadlifts).
However, putting someone in a small degree of lumbar flexion and/or posterior tilt isn’t going to cause a sponatenous disc herniation.
In fact, I would argue that getting someone better control over the lumbar spine and pelvis is going to get them out of extension, and actually allow their lower back to feel better. It’s going to relieve pressure on both the discs and facets, which are getting crushed when you’re locked in extension.
Okay, rant over, but the bottom line is a little bit of work in this position could provide massive benefits going forward.
Exercise #5 – Knees Extended Bear
Last but not least, once you’ve mastered The Bear, you’ll want to find something more challenging.
Enter the Knees Extended Bear!
The set-up here is identical to the first, but once those knees are up, you simply straighten them out. As you can see you’ll end up in a pike position, with the hips as the highest point.
This exercise is a lot tougher than you might expect, so be sure to start with the standard bear first.
Core training exercises might be a dime-a-dozen, but that doesn’t mean all of them are worth their salt.
These five exercises are some of my favorites, and I think you’ll love them as well.
Pick one and give it a shot next time you’re in the gym. Enjoy!
All the best
P.S. – If you like these and want more great core training info, be sure to check out my Complete Core Training product!
This product covers my entire core training philosophy, with everything from program design, to exercise selection, and coaching cues.
Quite simply if you want a resource that will help you better program and coach core training exercises, this is the one. Thanks!