There has been quite a breakthrough in the past 10 years when it comes to abdominal training. Through both research and training, we now know the key to a great looking core is the combination of the right nutrition, training and recovery.
Today, we are going to cover the training piece.
The problem with most abdominal training is that it tends to be very unbalanced. The majority of prescribed ab exercises only target the rectus abdominis (anterior abs) and trains the abs to produce motion (ie- flex your spine), seen during exercises like crunches. This imbalance in ab training not only overdevelops your anterior abs but can also have a negative impact on your posture and performance.
It is important to remember that everything is connected. Your abs attach and function to stabilize your rib cage and pelvis and actually protect your spine. Our abdominal training should reflect this.
Only training the anterior abs leave the obliques (lateral abs) underdeveloped and misses one of the key components of abdominal training – to resist motion at your spine. Training your abs to resist motion, seen with exercises like planks, should make up roughly 80-90% of your total abdominal training. This will not only improve the strength, endurance and function of your abs but will also decrease your risk of injury, especially at your low-back. By training to resist motion you will better train your spine to maintain a neutral position resulting in a reduction in stress, torque and compression at your low-back.
When it comes to choosing abdominal exercises, we want exercises that:
- Target both the anterior and lateral abdominals
- Mainly challenge you to resist motion at your spine
- Integrate other areas of your core like your shoulders, rib cage and pelvis.
Let’s get into the 5 NEW ab exercises you need to try!
#1 Pause Bear Crawl (Anterior & Lateral Abs)
Think of the pause bear crawl as a more challenging, moving plank. We love crawls here at Dynamic as they work to strengthen and stabilize the entire torso. The movement at your hips and shoulders challenges your abs especially to stabilize your spine, rib cage and pelvis.
- Start on all fours with hands placed under shoulders and knees under hips
- Start by lifting knees off ground
- Progress forward by moving opposite arm and leg at same time no more than 3"
- Pause in between each rep
- Keep abs braced and do not let low back or trunk move
- Also move backwards to increase the challenge
- Start with 2-3 sets of 5-10yds
#2 Dead-Bug KB or DB Pullover (Anterior Abs)
Once you've mastered the wall dead-bug it's time to up the challenge with the dead-bug pullover. By adding resistance overhead your abs have to work double time to stabilize your spine. Your abs will be screaming!
- Start with knees bent at 90 degrees and KB or DB raised over your chest
- Keep low-back flat to the floor throughout
- Keeping arms straight, bring weight back half-way overhead
- Reach 1-leg out straight
- Hold low back flat and slowly exhale through mouth like you're blowing through a straw
- Hold for a 3-5 second exhale
- Start with 3 sets of 4-6/side
#3 Anti-Rotation Press (Lateral Abs)
One of our favorite exercises for that tough to hit, lateral abdominal is the anti-rotation press. By pressing the cable or band out in front, your obliques have to work hard to resist any side-bend or rotation.
- Start with cable or band on one side, hands at chest
- Press cable or band out so arms go straight
- Keep knees slightly bent and abs braced
- Hold position for 1, 3-5 second exhale
- Return hands to chest
- Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps/side
#4 Ball Rollouts (Anterior Abs)
The ball rollout is an ab favorite at DSC. Warning : these are tough and will make you sore! The eccentric (resistance to stretch) muscle action during the rollout places a great deal of stress on your abs.
- Start on knees with arm straight and hands on ball
- Keep hips tucked under, glutes tight and abs braced
- Start by slowly tipping forward, letting arms roll up the ball
- Let hips and nose fall towards floor
- Keep straight line from knees to head
- Go as far down as possible without losing position
- Start with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
#5 Off-Set KB or DB Carries (Lateral Abs)
Our last exercise, and quite possibly the most challenging is our off-set carries. Think of these as walking planks. The weight on one side wants to pull and twist you but you need to stabilize your shoulders, core and abs to resist and keep a good position. These also make a great addition to your cardio circuits!
1) KB or DB Suitcase Carry
- Start with KB or DB in one hand with tight grip
- Keep shoulders back and stomach braced
- Do not let weight touch your leg or side
- Keep posture upright
- You should feel oblique on opposite side of weight
- Start with 2-3 sets of 20-40yd walks/side
2) 1-Arm KB Bottoms Up Carry
The bottoms up carry has the same lateral ab training effect as the suitcase carry but integrates much more of a shoulder challenge with the position and instability of the KB.
- Start KB on one side in bottoms up position with firm grip
- Arm should be at 90 degrees
- Stay tall with stomach braced
- Start with 2-3 sets of 20-40yd walks/side