2 Workouts for a Complete Core Development

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2 Workouts for a Complete Core Development

If you ask just about any trainee what muscle group they would most like to develop, chances are, they’ll say their abs. For numerous anthropological reasons, a well developed mid-section is the goal of almost everyone who works out. The problem is that many people try to build a six pack using ineffectual exercises and while paying little or no attention to their diet. The thing is that abs are actually made in the kitchen! Right now, you have a good if not great six pack. It’s just hiding away under a thick layer of adipose tissue – that’s fat to you and me.

You need to trim the fat to see those abs! This means, if you aspire to a six pack, you need to get your diet sorted. Instead, We want to focus on providing you with a well rounded (pun intended) ab routine so that, when you finally drop your body fat levels low enough, you’ll have an aesthetically pleasing and functionally strong midsection.

If you ask a not-so-smart trainer how to develop your core muscles, chances are, he/she will give you a bunch of exercises that target your rectus abdominus, located on the front of your abdomen. While this muscle is the main contributor to the six pack we all seek, it is only one of many muscles what make up your core. Training the rectus abdominus only is like having a blind belief that the world is flat or that there is only one dimension. Dumb, dumb, DUMB!

Despite what many people thing, your core is far more than just one set of muscles and is responsible for a whole lot more then bending your spine forwards in a crunch-like movement. Other muscles in this region include the internal, external and transverse obliques, the erector spinae, transverse abdominus and quadratus lumborum. You don’t need to know where or what these muscles are – I’ll make sure you work them all – but it’s worth knowing that crunches and their ilk only work one muscle on this list…

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Your core muscles control your spine and your spine is capable of a wide number of movements. This means that, to effectively train all of your core musculature, you need to perform a wide variety of movements and therefore exercises. I have classified these movements in the chart below…

Movement Main Muscle Example Exercise
Flexion – upper Rectus abdominus Crunches
Flexion – lower Rectus abdominus Reverse crunches
Lateral flexion Rectus abdominus, obliques, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum Dumbbell side bends
Extension Erector spinae Prone back extensions
Rotation Obliques Cable Russian twists
Bracing Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus Planks

It’s worth noting that some of the movements can be combined, for example, flexion – upper and rotation can be combined by performing crunches with a twist although this is actually an ineffectual exercise….


Your Three Dimensional Abs Prescription

Here are two workouts, each designed to be performed once a week, that will challenge your core muscles from multiple angles to maximize their development. Perform workout A at the beginning of the week and workout B a few days later. Do not perform the workouts on consecutive days. Try to work a little harder on a week-by-week basis to ensure your muscles are regularly challenged to get stronger. That is the key to improved muscular development.

Remember though, no matter how hard you work your core, you won’t see any changes unless your diet is tip-top. The best exercise for a six pack is the fork put down and the table push away so unless you practice these two moves, you won’t necessarily see the benefit of these workouts.

Workout A

Exercise

Repetitions

Sets

Recovery

Training System

1a Stability Ball Plank

30 to 60 seconds

3

60 seconds

Superset

1b Stability Ball Crunches

15 to 20

2a Waiter’s Walk

15 to 25 meters

3

N/A

Superset

2b Farmer’s Walk
3 45 Degree Back Extensions

8 to 12

3

60 seconds

Simple set


Exercise Descriptions

Stability Ball Plank & Stability Ball Crunches
Perform these two exercises back-to-back and only rest after you have completed the second exercise. For stability ball planks, rest your elbows and forearms on the top of a stability ball, brace your abs and hold your body straight. For stability ball crunches, make sure the ball is located in the natural curve of your lower back. Extend your spine so that your head is slightly lower than your hips at the bottom of the movement.

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Waiter’s Walk & Farmer’s Walk
Performed with a single heavy dumbbell, these unusual exercises are performed for distance instead of a set number of repetitions. For waiter’s walks, press and hold a dumbbell above your head and walk the prescribed distance. On completion, drop the dumbbell down and hold it at your side and walk back again – this is the farmer’s walk. Without resting, change sides and repeat. Continue to alternate sides, without resting, until all three sets are completed.

45 Degree Back Extensions
Use the 45 degree back extension machine for this exercise. Plant your feet flat, bend your knees slightly and lean as far forwards as you comfortably can. Extend your back until your shoulders, hips and heels form a straight line – do not over extend. If you need a greater challenge, hold a weight to your chest.

Workout B Exercise Repetitions Sets Recovery Training System
1a Cable Russian Twists

6 to 10

3

60 seconds

Superset

1b Rotational Throws

12

2a Decline Reverse Crunches

12 to 15

3

60 seconds

Superset

2b Inch Worms

3 to 5

3 Saxon Side Bends

8 to 12

3

N/A

Simple set

 

Exercise Descriptions

Cable Russian Twists & Rotational Throws
Ask many trainers to prescribe a rotational exercise and chances are they’ll give you some lame exercise like broomstick twists! Rotational exercises need to be performed against a significant external resistance to be of any benefit. For cable Russian twists, set an adjustable cable to shoulder height, stand sideways on, grab the handle in both hands and rotate your upper body while keeping your lower body fixed in place. Move straight onto the next exercise without resting. For rotational throws, grab a medicine ball, stand sideways onto a wall and use a rotational movement to throw the ball. Catch it as it rebounds off the wall and repeat.

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Decline Reverse Crunches & Inch Worms
There is no such muscle as your lower abs but you can initiate spinal movements by raising your hips instead of your shoulders. This exercise is the daddy of this type of movement! With an incline sit up bench set to around 30-45 degrees, lie down with your head uppermost. Hang on tightly. Bend legs so your hips and knees are flexed to 90 degrees. Pull your knees towards your chest and lift your hips and lower back off the bench. Hold this top position for a second and then return to the starting position. On completion of the prescribed number of repetitions, move onto the next exercise. For inch worms, stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Bend down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Walk your hands forwards and away from your feet until you are stretched out as far as possible but do not allow your hips to sag downwards. Walk your feet in to meet your hands and then stand up. Perform another repetition in the same fashion and continue until you have completed the prescribed number of repetitions.

Saxon Side Bends
Named after a famous old-time English strongman called Arthur Saxon, this exercise delivers an awesome oblique workout. Take a dumbbell or medicine ball and press it overhead – hold it in both hands with your arms fully extended. With your feet shoulder-width apart, lean over to your left and then over to your right as far as you comfortably can. Continue alternating sides until you have competed the designated number of repetitions. Do not lean forwards or backwards or allow your spine to twist.

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