This has a lot to do with the fact that compound movements we often emphasize as being essential to every high quality workout, namely squats, deadflits and bench press train the core muscles as well.
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But is that enough to get the truly world class abs with deep muscle belly separation and functional strength to match? Most often it's not, unless you're a true genetic freak.
For us mere mortals, getting to work to build these muscles requires consistent hardCORE workouts. There five exercises provide the punch and deliver the goods. Without further ado, here they are.
5 Crazy Core Exercises
1. Frog Sit-upsWhat's that you ask?
Unless you've heard about Vince Gironda. If you have, you probably know everything about it. The Iron Guru who trained countless top bodybuilders (including Arnold) during the Golden Era, had a few complaints about the regular sit ups. He realized that they put a lot of strain on the lower back, stiffen the hips, and don't allow for the full range of motion when it comes to ab training.
So what did he do? He reversed the movement.
Instead of pulling your upper body towards your knees, you're pulling your crossed legs to your head. Your head shouldn't be lying completely on the floor though. It should be slightly elevated by your hands. This is a very powerful movement that will have you feeling the burning sensation across your midsection after only a few reps.
It's a great replacement for the standard crunches, or at least an addition until you get used to them completely. It's especially effective for the lower abs. So give these a try and get back to us with your experience.
3 best lower ab workouts with the guru of abs DaShaun Johnson.
2. Barbell Floor WiperThis is one exercise you haven't seen performed in your local gym, yet it's a powerful move that is used by many pro athletes to strengthen their core.
It's performed by lying on the floor and holding a barbell with some weight (preferably a 45 lbs plate on each side) in front of your chest with your arms straight. What you do then is get your legs straight and keep them together.
In that position you raise them to one plate, then lower them back to the starting position. Then from the starting position you raise them to the opposite plate. Bring them back to the starting position and repeat the process.
What's the benefit of holding the barbell you might wonder? It acts as a stabilizer, and makes the movement a combination of isometric and isotonic contractions, so you get the benefits of a plank and the standard leg raises in one exercise.
3. Weighted PlanksThe easiest way to make an exercise hard is to add some weight. The same rule applies to core exercises.
Planks are a top isometric exercise, and I simply have to include them in this list. But many trainees who visit this site have relatively strong abs and they can hold a plank for longer than a minute, which can get a bit boring after some time.
If you belong to that group, simply add more resistance to your plank either with a weighted back-pack or by placing a plate or two on your back. This second option might require some assistance, but if you train in a gym it shoudn't be an issue.
Hold the position as long as you can, and add weight on a consistent basis to get continual benefits.
4. Dragon FlagDo you know the favorite ab exercise of Mel Gibson? It's the DRAGON FLAG! Maybe Mel is not your top fitness idol, but he certainly has a fine taste when it comes to exercises. The dragon flag is a magnificent movement that will have your abs screaming in somewhat pleasurable pain.
So how do you do a dragon flag?
First you should lie down on your back on a hard surface, preferably a bench. Than grab the bench from both sides of head with your elbows pointing up. This will ensure you have the necessary support as you raise your legs. Your legs should be straight and kept together.
Now you should raise your whole body on top of your shoulders, mainly through the support of your core muscles. That is the end position. After you've made it, slowly lower yourself until your body is almost completely down on the bench. Keeping the tension in your core, slowly go back to the end position again, and repeat the process until you're exhausted.
This is an advanced exercise, and it takes some time to master. It can be dangerous if you go too quickly so make sure you nail the technique without trying any acrobatics. It's a great exercise that hits basically the whole torso, including the midsection, back muscles, and even shoulders as you stack your weight on top of them and keep them in an isometric contraction.
5. Weighted Leg RaisesThere are not many core exercises that can be effectively made harder through the use of additional weight. But the leg raises (and previously mentioned plank) is one of those gems. So what you need to do is basically the standard leg raise, by hanging from the bar with your arms approximately shoulder width apart, and bringing your legs upwards towards your upper torso.
The way you can add resistance is by holding a dumbbell between your feet throughout the movement. Voila! You've made a standard core exercise X times harder, depending on the amount of additional resistance you use.
Plus, you can now use strength progress on leg raises as an indicator of your core muscle development.