Everyone wants a strong, sexy core.
And it doesn’t matter whether your handicap is thirty-three or three, great core strength will improve your balance, boost your distance, and help prevent catastrophic back injuries — ultimately, that means lower scores, more skins, and more fun.
Today, we’ve compiled six awesome exercises to help you blast your core and build a strong, stable, and healthy torso. But first, let’s talk about the most popular core exercise and why you should banish it from your workout routine.
Why Should You Stop Doing Crunches For Core Strength?
Crunches suck for six packs. To learn why, let’s start with your anatomy:
If you look carefully at your core, you’ll notice a grid that comprises the infamous “six pack.” The reason it’s shaped like a grid is that it’s built to resist twisting, turning, bending, and extending, not to generate it. By staying rigid against all types of forces and angles, your abs keep your lower back and organs safe.
When you do sit-ups and crunches, however, you’re not training the core in the way it was designed to move because you’re flexing it up and down. And when you lift your chest in a crunch, your shoulders round forward and create bad posture. Also, during a sit-up, putting your hands behind your head pulls your neck forward and puts strain on your spine.
If that wasn’t bad enough, your knees are bent during the sit-up, which further tightens your hip flexors, which are already so tight from sitting all day. The Harvard Medical School wrote:
One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back — by pushing your curved spine against the floor and by working your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine which can be a source of lower back discomfort.
Skip the crunches and sit-ups and try these six moves for a six pack instead.
Core Strength #1: Super Plank
I hate basic planks — they’re boring, they take too long, and they make me feel like my face is going to explode. Instead of holding one position for 60 seconds, enhance your core activation by moving your body dynamically, while keeping your trunk rigid.
Introducing the “super plank.” Start in a plank position on your forearms. Then slowly crawl up into a pushup position and slowly return to the original plank position. Repeat.
Core Strength #2: Salute Plank
By lifting one arm or leg, you reduce your base of support and create a higher intensity at your core.
Get into a plank position and keep your chest out and your glutes squeezed. Then bring one forearm to your forehand in a salute move. Hold this for three to five seconds WITHOUT letting your hips twist. Then, switch arms. Repeat and alternate on both sides.
Core Strength #3: Ab Rollout
The ab rollout is one of the best exercises to build a strong, powerful anterior core.
Grab an ab wheel (or you can use a stability ball). Get on both knees and push your hips forward by squeezing your glutes. Slowly fall forward holding an ab wheel or with your palms on a stability ball — keep your hips pushed forward the entire time.
Core Strength #4: Bodysaw
By changing the lever arm, you can significantly intensify your core activation.
Get into a plank position and place your feet in a suspension trainer or on a sliding surface (a slideboard, Valslide, or even throw a towel on a hardwood floor). Brace your core as hard as you can and squeeze your glutes. Then, keep your forearms in the same position and push your body backwards as far as you can. Then pull yourself back and repeat.
Core Strength #5: Stir-the-Pot
This is a phenomenal ab exercise that strengthens your core by forcing it to resist against a variety of forces.
Get into a plank position with your forearms on a stability ball. Keep your core and torso stable and use your forearms to spin the ball clockwise. Do this ten times while keeping your body as still as possible — just move your arms. Then switch directions.
Core Strength #6: Jackknife
Get into a pushup position and place your feet in a suspension trainer, on a sliding surface, or on a stability ball. Keep your upper-body as quiet as possible and pull your knees to your chest.