What is the best ab exercise? How do I get a 6-pack? I want a washboard stomach like you. What can I do besides planks? What are those exercises?
Yes, I get asked these questions on a daily basis and by daily I mean every 10 minutes. I teach dynamic core exercises like the Turkish Get-Up and deadlift (yes, that works your core), anti- extension exercises like planks, and anti-lateral flexion exercises such as side planks. But what about those crazy exercises you do with the cables?
I have tried my absolute damndest to explain anti-rotation core exercises to all the cantankerous naysayers around the gym only to have them become instantly disinterested and go back to doing thier crunches. Kinda makes me feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy swipes the football before he kicks it. That bitch.
What most poeple don’t realize is that your core is more than just 6 abdominal muscles that are hidden beneath a layer of J-E-L-L-O pudding. As I have said before, your core is actually made up of four different mucles: the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques and transverse abdominis.
A close look at the setup of these muscles will reveal a crosshatch pattern that will functionally aid in many different movements of your core. Those crunches aren’t looking so useful anymore, are they toughguy?
There will be no bashing of crunches today as I have already done that here and here.
That being said, the other main functions of your core besides protecting your spine and innards are resisting trunk extension (e.g. the plank), resisting posterior pelvic tilt (I will get into that in a later post), and resisting the transmission of hoop stress.
Here is the convorsation that took place today at the gym as I was working with one of my clients…
Gym Guy: What are those working, your chest?
Me: Pushing things works your chest, this for anti-rotation and works your core.
Gym Guy: So what your telling me is that if I do those anti-rotation thingies I will have abs of steel like you?
Me: Thats a negative Ghostrider.
So maybe I was just thinking that last part. I actually went on to explain that if you train your core you will have abs of steel but being able to see them is a different story. We all have a core and we all have a “6-pack”, they are just hidden behind layers of pizza and Pringles.
And I digress so back to the issue at hand.
Here are some videos of great anti-rotation core exercises that I use in ALL of my client’s programs. There are progressions to each so I will start at the beginning and work my way down to one badass motha. “Shut yo mouth!”
A couple of key coaching cues before we get started:
- Get Tall – Keep the chest up and shoulders back for each exercise. Do NOT slouch or let the shoulders come forward.
- Hips Back and Contract Glutes – Do NOT lean forward. Leaning forward makes this exercise ineffective.
- Brace Your Core – Keep your core tight
- Control the Movement – This is very important. You should not look like you are having a seizure while doing these exercises. Keep each movement slow and controlled.
- Narrow the Stance to Increase Difficulty – You will have to play around with this. A narrow base makes each exercise more difficult.
Tall-kneeling should be one of the first exercises in your program/progression. It keeps the focus on your core and makes it harder to cheat. P.S. It sounds like me but the grunting is coming from the guy doing pullups, I swear.
Once you master the kneeling position advance to the standing Pallof Press. From here you can practice isometric holds for 10+ seconds to really challenge your core.
The half-kneeling or “90/90” posture is difficult to maintain and any exercise really torches your core.
Once you learn to control your core, advance to anti-rotational, rotational chops. Keep your core and lumbar spine solid and keep the rotation at the hips.
This isn’t an anti-rotation exercise in the most literal sense of the term but it activates parts of your core that you never knew you had. And please, don’t be the assclown that bends your back and whips the bar around. Don’t be “that guy”.
Sidenote: I have no control over the music that is played and there always seems to be a chick song on when I am taking video. To make up for it, here is my song of the week: