Stop doing Crunches and Toe Touches! Seriously, those exercises only train your core in one direction.
The five core exercises below are very dynamic, and they challenge your abs in different ways to make you ready for anything that comes your way. A more balanced core will make you a more well-rounded athlete.
After doing these a few times, you'll forget all about your old ab exercises.
1. Back Scratcher
Perform this one on a smooth and soft surface.
- Start by lying flat on your back.
- Lift your legs so that your knees and hips are bent, forming an upside down "L."
- Raise your arms so they are perpendicular to the ground.
- Begin the movement by raising your upper back off the ground and moving slightly to the right.
- Lift your lower body and move it slightly to the right.
- Continue this sequence and move in the same direction for 10 feet.
- Perform the same sequence, moving to the left to return to your spot.
Try this for 2 sets. Keep your legs bent, arms straight up and lower back flat during the entire movement. This one will burn, but it will feel great if you have an itch on your back that you can't reach.
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2. SlowMo Log Roll
This exercise requires no equipment and works your entire body.
- Start by lying on your back.
- Lift your arms and legs approximately 6 inches off the floor. Be sure to keep your lower back flat.
- Begin by turning your head to the right and allowing your body to slowly roll to the right side. When you get on your right side, pause for 2 seconds. Your hands and feet should still be off the floor.
- Begin the next phase by slowly rolling to your stomach while keeping your hands and feet off the floor.
- Pause for 2 seconds.
- Begin next phase of the movement by turning your head to the right and slowly rolling onto your left side. Hands and feet remain off the floor.
- Complete the movement by turning your head to the right and slowly rolling onto your back.
- Complete the same series rolling to your left.
Try 5 to the right and 5 to the left for 2 sets. Avoid using momentum to roll your body. Each roll should be slow, fully engaging your core. To get the most out of this exercise, your entire body should turn at the exact same time. Get rolling.
3. Long Crawl Inchworm
- Begin in a push-up position with your elbows straight.
- Keeping your knees straight and palms flat on the floor, use your ankles to walk your feet up toward your hands. With each small step you take, your hips should rise higher in the air, and it should appear as if your body is folding in two.
- Once you feel like your knees are about to bend, slowly walk your hands out as far as you can in front of your head and pause for 3 seconds. The farther you can place your hands in front of your head, the more your core will be fired up. This exercise not only improves core stability, it also improves shoulder strength and stretches the calves and hamstrings.
Perform 2 sets of 10 reps. It's important to keep your body in a straight line when you crawl your hands out in front of your head. Do not allow your hips to sag below your upper back. If you find the 3-second hold too easy, bump it up to 5 seconds or crawl your hands out even farther.
4. Pallof Press
You will need a cable machine for this one.
- Adjust the handle to chest height.
- Turn so that your side faces the machine.
- Keeping an athletic stance (feet shoulder-width apart and hips back), grab the cable with both hands and hold it in the center of your chest.
- Maintaining this position, push the handle forward by straightening your elbows and keeping the handle centered to your chest.
- Pause for 2 seconds and return to the starting position.
Go for 2 sets of 12 reps on each side. Maintain a long flat back while keeping your hips back. Avoid any movement from the feet, knees, hips and torso.
5. Pallof Press with Shuffle
Once you have mastered the Pallof Press, take your core training to the next level.
- Begin in the same position as the Pallof Press. When you push the cable away from your body, keep it out and perform small lateral shuffles away from the cable.
- Move in a slow, controlled fashion, moving your upper and lower body together.
- Take 3 to 5 steps away (depending on the length of the cable) and return to the starting position by slowly shuffling back.
- Shuffle over and back 3 times on both sides.
Great athletes have core strength in every direction. Rotation and stabilizing strength is the key to power development. It allows you to transfer power from your lower body to your upper body without losing force production. It will help you take your game to the next level.
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