Six-pack or not, exercising your core muscles is important. Simple tasks like carrying groceries, lifting packages and bending over utilizes your core muscles. A strong core aids in posture and an ache free back. The core is one of the most used muscle groups in the body.
What Is The Core?
The core is every muscle group aside from your arms or legs beyond the pelvis, not just your abdomen. Your core includes your abdomen muscles (internal obliques, transverse obliques, external obliques, intercostals, serratus), glutes, hips, scapula, sub scapula, lower back, and pelvic floor.
It is difficult to overwork the core, although it can be done. It can be worked at least three times a week. Your abdomen muscles will warn you when you are overworking them through the feeling of extreme cramping after the completion of a circuit that lasts more than 20 seconds. If this occurs, give yourself a few days off for proper rest to avoid injury.
Exercises To Build a Strong Core
Ab circuits are a great way to build your core strength with a bit of incorporation of other muscle groups. It’s imperative to train your lower back as much as your abdomen. An injury will eventually occur if you over train your abdomen without proper attention to your lower back.
✓ Ab Circuit 1
☐ 50 Crunches [30 second rest]
☐ 30 Side Crunches (15 each side) [30 second rest]
☐ 20 Reverse Crunches (keep back flat on ground, bring knees to chest keeping hands on floor) [30 second rest]
☐ 20 V-Ups (back on ground, raise feet up to ceiling and touch them with your hands keeping arms straight) [30 second rest]
☐ 20 Leg Pull-In (back on ground, bring knees to chest and raise them to the ceiling) [30 second rest]
☐ 30 Second Plank [30 second rest]
☐ Repeat for 2-3 Rounds
✓ Ab Circuit 2
☐ Crunches – 3 sets, 25 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Barbell Twist – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Cable Crunch – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Russian Twist – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Dumbbell Side Bend – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
Ab Circuit 3
☐ Reverse Crunch – 3 sets, 20 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Jackknife Sit-Up – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Decline Crunch – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Air Bicycle – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Ab Machine – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
Aside from mainly abdomen exercises, here are circuits that incorporate more muscle groups. Incorporate abdomen muscles, back muscles, glutes, hips and the pelvic floor in these calorie-burning circuits.
✓ Core Circuit 1
☐ Ab Rollout – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Jump Lunges – 3 sets, 12 reps (alternate legs) [30 second rest]
☐ Plyo Ball Twist – 3 reps, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Deadlifts – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Knees to Chest Jump – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
✓ Core Circuit 2
☐ 45 Second Flutter Kicks [30 second rest]
☐ Weighted Back Raises – 3 sets, 15 reps (from decline bench) [30 second rest]
☐ 30 Second Side Planks (each side) [30 second rest]
☐ Barbell Good Mornings – 3 sets, 15 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Leg Dog Raise – 3 sets, 15 reps (each side) [30 second rest]
✓ Core Circuit 3
☐ Ab Cable Prayers – 3 sets, 15 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Spiderman Plank – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
☐ Dog Leg Raise w/ Donkey Kickback – 3 sets, 15 reps (alternate legs) [30 second rest]
☐ 30 Second Wall Sits [30 second rest]
☐ Kettlebell Squat Cleans – 3 sets, 12 reps [30 second rest]
Alongside your training getting your diet right is very important if you want to gain visual abdominal muscles. For your abs to show you must have a low body fat percentage and this comes from exercise and getting your nutrition right.
We are in ‘bulking season’, which means a lot of gym goers will be taking part in high calorie and high carbohydrate diets to put on mass. This will lead to putting on some fat though, which isn’t good for aesthetic abs.
There is such thing as a clean bulk and you can still get in the required nutrients, namely protein, without overloading on carbohydrates. I would recommend Impact Whey Isolate as your post workout shake to contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. The main benefits are:
✓ 90% protein content per serving
✓ Low fat and carbohydrate content
This will help you to put on lean mass and not cover your abs in a layer of fat, which would decrease your abs visibility.
You could also try Impact Diet Whey
Take Home Message
With these six different core circuits, you’ll build a strong core in no time. Incorporate the circuits that are abdomen based with the full core circuit that will strengthen your back muscles and glutes to accomplish a fully strengthened core. Cycle the workouts in this fashion – ab circuit 1 (Monday), rest day, core circuit 1 (Wednesday), rest day, ab circuit 2 (Friday), rest day, rest day, core circuit 2 (Monday), rest day, ab circuit 3 (Wednesday), rest day, core circuit 3 (Friday).
This adds up to 6 workouts in 14 days, or two weeks. A core workout three times a week will drastically improve your strength. It is designed to be abdomen heavy the first week followed by full core heavy the second week. This will allow all muscle groups of the core to be exercised properly with the recommended rest in between workouts. The workouts can also be used after a lift for an extra core workout to replace cardio.