Don’t confuse an ab routine with a core workout. A true core workout program develops dozens of muscles attached to the hips, pelvis, lower back, and abdominals. We’ll focus on four muscle groups: the erector spinae, along the spinal column; the rectus abdominis, from the middle of your rib cage to your pubic bone; the obliques, alongside your waist; and the transverse abdominis, under your obliques.
Developed core muscles help you react faster and stronger, and let your body distribute stress evenly and absorb shock effectively. Athletes who give these muscles proper attention will reap enhanced balance, body awareness, coordination, and flexibility.
The most effective exercises for developing power, such as deadlifts and squats, require a strong core to stabilize and protect the lower back. Conditioning the deep core muscles gives you the foundation needed to lift more weight with less risk of injury.
The more centered your spine is in relation to the rest of your body, the more erect you’ll sit and stand. Strong lower-back and abdominal muscles help you run with proper technique, sustain a long commute, even sit at a desk all day. Clothes fit better, and you appear taller, slimmer, and more confident.
Developing your core helps you perform daily tasks with less effort and fatigue. This means you’ll have more energy to burn in the gym or on the field, and less time on the sidelines from early exhaustion or injury.
This program strengthens major and minor muscles at the same time. Many of the exercises involve rotation of the spine, which engages more of the erector spinae and the internal and external obliques. Your core muscles work all day long, so they’re resistant to fatigue. That means you won’t need many rest days on this program.
The plan can be a separate workout two or three times a week.
Don’t worry about the number of reps–concentrate on form and on going slowly.
Create your routine by… Picking 1 move from section A, 1 from B, and 2 from C
Create your routine by…Combining the 4 moves you didn’t use during week 1
Create your routine by…Doing all 8 moves in the order
Create your routine by…
Doing all 8 moves in the order shown
Lie on your left side with your legs and feet together, your right hand on your right hip, and your left forearm on the floor so your elbow is beneath your shoulder. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulder to ankle. Pause, slowly lower your body, and repeat, then switch to your right side.Watch Your Form:Keep your neck in line with your torso as much as possible to avoid straining your trapezius and neck muscles.
Lie on a Swiss ball so your head, shoulders, and upper back touch its surface. Your knees should be bent, your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest. Slowly twist your upper body to the left until you’re lying on your left shoulder. Slowly rotate back to the starting position. Repeat the move, this time rolling to the right.Watch Your Form:Resist the urge to tilt your head excessively up to the side or down to look at the ball or the floor. Your head, neck, and spine should form a straight line and remain that way.
Lie on a hyperextension bench with your ankles under the ankle pads. Hold a light medicine ball to your chest and lean forward until your upper body is almost perpendicular to the floor. Slowly raise your torso, twisting your upper body to the right and extending the ball away from you until your arms are straight. Rise until your body is just past parallel to the floor. Reverse the motion, then repeat, twisting and reaching to the left.Watch Your Form:Go slowly: 3 seconds up and 3 down. Rushing uses momentum and increases risk of injury.
Lie face down on a Swiss ball with your waist on top of it. Place your feet against a wall or under something sturdy. Cross your arms and bend forward until your upper body covers the ball. Slowly raise your torso off the ball, gently twisting to the right, until your torso is slightly past parallel to the floor. Lower yourself and repeat, this time twisting to the left.Watch Your Form:At the top of the move, the top of your pelvis should rest on the Swiss ball. If you can feel the ball against your lower abs, you’re not forward enough on it.
Assume the pushup position with your shins on a Swiss ball and your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart and beneath your shoulders. Keeping your head down and your abs drawn in, slowly pull your knees toward your chest. (The ball will roll slightly forward.) Try to keep your hips down to maintain the stress on your abdominals. Pause, then straighten your legs to roll the ball back out behind you.
Watch Your Form: Keep your belly button pulled in toward your spine. This engages your transverse abdominis, which helps protect your back.
Use a weight that allows you to do no more than 12 to 15 repetitions. Stand with your right shoulder toward a high-pulley cable station and grab the rope or handle with both hands. Keeping your toes forward and knees bent, slowly rotate to your left as you draw your arms across and down. Pause when your hands are above your left thigh, then slowly reverse the motion. After a set, repeat the move with your left shoulder facing the stack.Watch Your Form:Don’t pull the weight with your arms or back. Keep your elbows at the same angle so your core muscles control the movement.
Hang from a bar and have a partner place a light medicine ball between your knees. Rock your pelvis upward, then slowly raise your knees up and to the left. Slowly lower your legs and repeat, this time to the right.Watch Your Form:Raising your knees before your pelvis can cause you to engage more of your hip flexors–the muscles along the front of the thighs. Think of the move in two parts: Tilt your pelvis up first, then raise your legs.
Lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet off the floor so your thighs are per-pendicular to the floor. Fold your hands across your chest. Slowly straighten your legs away from you and to the right. (They should end up at a 45-degree angle to the floor.) As you go, crunch your torso upward and to the left while extending your arms forward. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise in the other direction.Watch Your Form:Spend at least 2 to 3 seconds going up and the same going down. Rushing can disrupt your balance and force you to stop.