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Muscle Sport Magazine

Six Exercises That Strengthen Your Core

By Maurice Bright – It’s officially summer time and what that means is all that hard work you’ve put into your body over the last few months is finally able to be flaunted along beach shores and whenever possible just because. The abs are always the first to garner attention from both females and males then the remainder of the muscles follow but did you know that you can build up your abdominals WITHOUT utilizing specific core work? Yes, there is a collection of lifts that engage your core significantly and can help formulate very solid abdominal growth over time. We’re going to cover a few for you guys today so sit back, relax and take notes!

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  • Barbell squat – “Drop that ass low to grow!” or “Aint no fun if the glutes can’t get none,” are just a few of the one-liners associated with squats but none of them touch up on the benefits of core stabilization the barbell squat provides. When you load the bar up and descend with all that poundage on your back, what your core does is tighten up to protect your spinal cord and relieve lower back pain. As the core comes together, all the six different muscles in which compose the abdominals now become engaged and stimulated with heavier weight than typically implemented in ab workouts. This process translates directly to abdominal hypertrophy which in my opinion is more beneficial than any specific core work you will perform.

 

  • Bench press – Just as the barbell squat, the longtime practiced bench press whether its barbell or dumbbell brings your core into the equation almost simultaneously when performed. The core is actually the first to get it on during this compound exercise because a foundation needs to be set to avoid injury and prep the body. Once core stabilization is apparent, the pectorals now have a stable platform from which to contract from to produce force. Given this system, start thinking of the bench press as a nice contributor to abdominal gains as you go about executing it from here on out.

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  • Deadlift – If you happen to have any bitch in you whatsoever, deadlifts will certainly rid you of all of it at the end of the day. Deadlifts are yet another compound exercise which work numerous muscles groups such as the lower back, glutes, quadriceps and abs just to name a few. The job the core serves during a deadlift is to keep your torso from collapsing forward and the maintaining of a vertical torso position requires a lot of strength. The obliques also get in on some of the action here by keeping you from leaning to one side or the other or rotating your body as you deadlift. All in all, your abdominals will contract heavily throughout this lift in an isometric manner or a contraction in which little to no movement takes place. It helps to learn how to go about pulling your abdominals in to support you or pushing them out against a weight belt if you’re using one as the lift progresses.

 

  • Kettlebell swings – I’ve been performing kettlebell swings rather routinely as of lately for my H.I.I.T and the core stabilization I’ve been receiving is crazy gnarly so I definitely had to throw them in here. With kettlebell swings; as the kettlebell elevates up to about chest level, to protect the lower back as I’ve mentioned previously in this article, the body will brace your abs and push them forward with the movement. As the sets and reps progress on, you’ll begin to notice the swaying movement of the kettlebell swings placing a significant demand on your core amongst all the tightening and what not. Don’t be surprised at all if your abs get sore during the exercise or end up sore the next day, it’s all that core stabilization baby!

  • Standing dumbbell alternating curls – A bicep move can even get in on the ab work here! Performing a standing dumbbell alternating curl requires you to drive your heels into the ground with your head and chest up first and foremost. You’re also going to need to keep your abdominals engaged during the entire set to keep your form from creeping back and putting unwanted pressure on your lower back, this “strict form” philosophy also helps to keep your alternating curls as effective as possible in my opinion. The core stabilization you’ll receive throughout the curling is certainly enough to carve some quality lines in your stomach if you’re hitting these cues on all cylinders.

 

  • Standing dumbbell shoulder press – Two dumbbells, six delts and a whole lot of weight. Standing dumbbell shoulder presses really hammer in the abdominals as the weight increases because the core works fairly hard to keep the spinal cord both aligned and protected throughout the pressing movement. Most individuals tend to turn the standing dumbbell shoulder press into a yoga pose by hyper-extending their lower back and that is NOT okay. If the weight is too much to handle then decrease it immediately for your safety. Never ever allow your ego to put yourself in a position where you can be injured, just wanted to go off topic and throw that in there really quickly. Back to the subject at hand, this particular exercise requires a ton of core stabilization and overhead stability so as you perform it remember to stand tall and keep your lats, abs and lower back engaged.

 

There are far more than just 6 exercises that can indirectly stabilize and strengthen your core but I just wanted to give you guys an idea of the types of movements that really call upon the core to work. Am I telling you to ditch the ab exercises at the end of your initial workouts and just stick to indirect stabilization? No. I’m a man of variety and I believe hitting a muscle group in a different number of ways is vital to its optimal development. Now go on, it’s summer time people! Let’s get them abs right and tight!

Maurice Bright is an ISSA certified personal trainer who also manages his own health and fitness website, mauricebright.com in hopes to inform, educate, motivate and inspire whenever possible.
Photo by Simon Lau

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