The best ab exercises you’re not doing!
Throughout our Group Training classes at Hybrid, being a well rounded athlete is one of our top priorities. Not only do we focus on main compound lifts and accessory movements, we integrate technical core exercises into the sessions to challenge our clients, all with a different stimulus’ to combat training plateaus. Having a strong core is VITAL to complete any basic exercise, let alone compound movement which is why we place so much emphasis on them. Here are a few we use across our Group sessions that you may not have tried before – try incorporating them into your workouts to build a bulletproof core!
Exercise 1: Plate or barbell sit ups
- Start with a plate or weighted barbell and sit on the floor
- Lie back with your knees at 90 degrees and your feet planted on the floor
- Hold the weight directly above your chest, with both arms straight and in a locked position
- Contract your core muscles and raise your upper body off the ground towards your knees
- Keep your arms locked out, feet and hips on the floor until your reach an upright position
- Hold at the top for a second, then slowly lower your upper body back down to the ground and repeat
The introduction of a weight into this exercise provides optimum concentric contraction of the core by keeping constant tension throughout the range of motion.
Exercise 2: Partner cradle rocks
- Start by lying on your back, bring your knees up to 90 degrees with your knees flexed
- Place your hands behind your head and touch your knees with your elbows
- Keep your thoracic spine (upper back) off the floor
- Get your partner to rock you back and forward, whilst doing so you must maintain the contact between your knees and elbows
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? All until your partner begins to rock you! This slow movement and a few sudden changes of direction make this exercise surprisingly challenging and it’s great way to keep isometric contraction of the rectus abdominis.
Exercise 3: Candlesticks (aka Rockys)
Seen on our screens in 1986 inside a battered Russian barn as Rocky Balboa continues his training to fight the gargantuan Ivan Drago. One of the classics but sometimes overlooked, has optimal capacity for eccentric contraction of the core.
- Lie flat on your back and find a solid foundation to hold on to above your head (squat rack or base of machine usually work well)
- Raise your whole body off the floor into a pike position with your toes pointing towards the ceiling, leaving just your thoracic spine in contact with the floor
- Slowly lower your body towards to floor whilst maintaining stiffness throughout your body
- Try to get your heels to touch the floor before your glutes do for optimum eccentric contraction
When lowering your body, ideally make the eccentric part of the movement last for 5-6 seconds. Repeating this 6-8 times can be very challenging and put tremendous stress on the abdominals – you’ll feel this the next day for sure!
Ultimately the best way to see progress in your Abs is created in the kitchen. Your diet plays a massive part in your body composition. With the introduction of these ab exercises to your training, you will induce muscle growth and strengthen your core in no time as they all offer a unique stimulus to the targeted area.
Building a strong core doesn’t have to be boring, or consist of endless repetitions of sit-ups and leg raises. Challenge yourself with these three exercises and build a bulletproof core and improve your main lifts.
Article by David Markham