In my previous article, I highlighted the principles of stabilizing your core and why it is important to functional fitness.
After four weeks of core stabilization, your program should progress to core strengthening exercises.
Strengthening the core involves more dynamic eccentric and concentric movements of the spine while keeping the core engaged.
The tempo and intensity of the exercises are increased at this level, with shorter rest intervals between sets. This will optimize strength gains and turn you into a fat burning beast!
Building a strong core will also assist in adding more testosterone pumping, HGH triggering, badass load bearing exercises such as loaded squats, deadlifts, and other compound lifts to your workout program.
Below are three core strength training exercises and how to perform them effectively. Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the movements just as you did during core stabilization.
Semi-Vise Crunch with Stability Ball
Lie down with your back flat on the floor. Lift your right leg slightly in the air and place the stability ball on your right thigh, just above the knee. Lay your right hand flat on the stability ball and hold it in place with an open palm.
Use your abdominal muscles to simultaneously lift up your right leg and upper torso. Maintain tension on the ball with your hand and be sure to keep your arm straight.
Continue to raise your leg and torso. The ball will start to roll up your leg.
Slowly return to the starting position, bringing your leg back down to almost touching the floor. Repeat this for 12 repetitions, 3 sets on each side at a medium tempo with 30 seconds rest in between sets.
This exercise is called a vise crunch because your arm and leg create a vise that holds the stability ball in place.
Remember to keep your arm straight throughout the exercise.
Side Planks with Repetitions
Side planks with repetitions are a strength-based variation of the side planks we performed while building stabilization.
To start, lay on your left side and lift yourself up so that your left forearm and side of your left foot are touching the floor. Stack your feet and raise your hips so that your body is in a straight line from head to feet.
Instead of holding yourself up for sixty seconds like we had done previously, lower your hips down towards the floor, then raise your midsection back up so that your body is once again in a straight line.
Remember to keep your core engaged here. Repeat this for 12 repetitions, 3 sets, with a 30 second rest interval in between sets.
Cable woodchops are a great exercise to functionally strengthen the core and upper body. The chop is performed from a high to low position, mimicking the action of chopping wood and targeting mainly the abdominal and oblique muscles.
Another physical benefit of woodchops is that they train the core muscles to activate prior to movement, helping to support the spine.
To start, attach an appropriate hand grip to the top anchor of a cable machine. Position your body so that the exercise movement will be downward and across your body.
Grip the handle with both hands above one shoulder. You’ll want to load the cable machine with enough weight so that there is sufficient resistance, but you can still move the cable through the complete range of motion.
Swing the handle down across your body until it reaches the opposite thigh, allowing the knees and hips to rotate slightly. You do not want to have them in a locked position.
Slowly allow the handle to retract into the starting position. Complete 10-12 repetitions at a medium tempo for 3 sets, with a 30 second rest interval in between sets. Reverse your body position so that you are facing the other way and complete the same number of repetitions on the opposite side of the body.
Coach’s tip: Be sure to keep your arms straight during this exercise, or else your arms will be doing most of the work rather than your core.
These are just three examples of exercises you can add to your workout program to strengthen your core.
The benefits of building a strong core cannot be understated.
A strong core can result in decreased back pain (as was the case for me), improved posture, greater flexibility, and ability to engage in testosterone pumping compound lifts.
Are you incorporating core training into your workout regimen? If not, what are you waiting for?
Be awesome, be vital.