Stronger abs, obliques, and lower backs begin with these four exercises.
To be a superior athlete, you need a superior core. Why? Because core strength helps keep you injury free, enable you to run faster, jump higher, and throw harder. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t hurt that a strong core will, undoubtedly, ensure you have the best abs on the beach too.
However, when most think about developing a strong core, they think of performing endless crunches at the end of their strength training sessions. If that’s how you approach core training, the time has come for a change. Truth be told, the best core strengthening exercises are those performed away from the abdominal mats. They’re those that integrate the entire body. So, let’s look at some of the top crunch-free core strengthening movements.
If there’s one move that’s going to challenge your core, it’s the renegade row. It hits all of the muscles in your back, while hitting your abs and every tiny muscle lining your spinal column along the way. When performing the renegade row, be sure to keep the body in the straight angled position. As your hips start to rise or fall, you’ll be putting too much stress on the lower back vertebra while also placing the shoulder girdle in an awkward position. Thus, be sure to start out with a lighter set of dumbbells than you’d normally use for single arm rows when doing this exercise until you grow comfortable with the movement pattern. Perform 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps with each arm.
Single Leg Squats With The Leg Elevated
To target the lower body along with the core, we turn to single leg squats with the leg elevated. Single leg squats are extremely challenging – and frankly more challenging than a set of heavy squats for most people. To really bring the abdominal core muscles into play though, you’ll want to keep your foot elevated as high as possible. This will target the top portion of the abs, while the lower abs and obliques (along with the spinal column muscles) will keep your body in balance as you lower yourself down. When doing these, make sure you go as low to the ground as possible, preferably hitting the full squat position, before rising back up again. Again, perform 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps on each leg.
Push-Ups On An Exercise Ball
The last crunch-free move to add is the push-up on an exercise ball. Many athletes already do push-ups, but adding a ball will definitely intensify things. The exercise ball causes you to become instable, forcing the abs to contract to help you retain balance. Place your hands up directly on top of the ball and perform 3-4 sets of 20 as you normally would.
Alternating Leg Raised Plank
The plank on its own is a very well known, crunch-free, core exercise but to add to the intensity, consider alternating one leg up off the ground as you perform it. By lifting up one leg, you’ll reduce your base of support, thus increasing the amount of tension placed on your abs. Try holding that position with your leg raised for a 20-30 second count before switching sides and repeating.
You’ve now got no more excuses as to why you’re bored with traditional crunches. Give these core exercises a try and you’ll not only strengthen your entire midsection, but you’ll end up performing, and looking, better too.
To ensure that you're getting the most our of your core workout, 1R would recommend the following supplements: