These three abdominal and core exercises laugh at the situps you're currently doing.
I’m sure that everyone has seen a commercial for how to get perfect Six-Pack Abdominals. But from an athletic standpoint, what does it mean to have a strong core? I have worked with athletes that were super lean and had great looking abdominals but still had lower back issues. On the flip side, I’ve worked with athletes that didn’t look like much but could do any exercise that I asked them to do for days on end. So what is the difference between the two?
In order to answer that question, you have to realize that the core of the body facilitates the kinetic chain. For example, some football players can bench press 340lbs and squat 500lbs but still can’t seem to maintain his blocking position on the offensive line. Why is that? Usually it’s because he lacks the core strength to maintain his posture and never gets an opportunity to put that upper and lower body strength to good use. In my basketball players we are constantly working on lower back strength for our big guys. Why? Because in order to maintain position on the low block, we have to remain upright and present a big target for our guards, which stems from having a strong core.
Simply put its all about force transfer. Force transfer occurs in a basketball player pushing off the ground in order to jump and dunk a basketball as well as in a baseball player setting his feet and using his hips to hit a home run. In any case, if the core is weak, or unstable, the efficiency of movement will decrease and you the athlete will be less successful. So your training focus should be on the functional capability of the core and not the look of it.
The following 3 exercises are a great way to strengthen your entire core and increase your understanding of what I’m talking about.
1. Single Leg Heel Touches:
A basic exercise where the goal is to keep your back flat on the ground and touch your heels lightly to the ground.
Don’t Cheat: Make sure you don’t put your hands under your butt. Your palms should be flat on the ground outside of your hips.
Step it up a Notch: To make things a little tougher, cross your arms across your chest instead of having them flat on the ground.
Why do them: This exercise is a great indicator of how weak your core really is. If you can do 15 reps with each leg and your arms across your chest, progress to the second exercise.
2. Medicine Ball Heel Touches:
A little tougher now, take a 4-6lb medicine ball and hold it between your knees as you do heel touches.
Don’t Cheat: Just like the above, don’t put your hands under your butt. Your palms should be flat on the ground outside of your hips.
Step it up a Notch: To make things a little tougher, cross your arms across your chest instead of having them flat on the ground. You can also increase the weight of the medicine ball.
Why do them: Now that we’re adding a med ball between your knees, the hip flexors and adductors start firing. Stronger hips mean more torque, more power, and more speed. When you can do a set of 20 with a 10lb med ball you’re ready to move on to the exercise below.
3. Leg Scoops:
The toughest of the 3 to do correctly. It’s a combination of a leg lift and the heel touches. Remember to keep your back flat on the ground.
Don’t Cheat: Just like the above, don’t put your hands under your butt. Your palms should be flat on the ground outside of your hips. Also make sure to keep your back flat.
Step it up a Notch: To make things a little tougher, hold a tennis ball between your feet while doing the exercise.
Why do them: This exercise helps improve your core strength through dynamic movement which replicates how your core is used on the field or the court. Do 2 sets of 20 in one direction and then change direction and do 2 sets of 20.
(I have to give some credit for this last one to my intern, Duval Kirkaldy. It was all him!)
These exercises are designed to start getting the adductors firing and improve your pelvic control which will, in turn, help improve your athleticism. So if you care more about function and performance, give these core exercises a shot as they’ll do a lot more for you than those sit-ups you’re currently doing. Athletes have strong cores. Do you?
And 1R, if you're looking to ensure your core recovers properly between training sessions, we at OneResult recommend the following post-lift proteins: