'Core Muscles' Abs / Back Strength & exercises

  • This is an area I have damn-all strength in. Legs and arms / shoulders are okay / getting there.

    What are the best exercises for strengthening your 'trunk'.

    Not just for up-and-down standard sit-up / crunch movements, but also for twisting motion etc (if you know what I mean...)

  • everyone's favourite, [color=red][b]deadlifts[/b][/color].

    Might start getting into them again too I think on my weights days.

  • What Bart said first of all. Then my bit:

    I'm going to speak like your abs are sentient beings - don't be afraid.

    One thing you should always do with your ab exercises is keep the muscles guessing - don't get into too much of a routine because you'll find the little buggers learn really fast. They've had it too good for too long after all

    So mix up your ab work especially with a range of exercises including:

    • no sit ups - after you reach a certain angle you start compensating with your legs which is a waste of time;

    • garden variety standard crunches;

    • crossover crunches - done like a crunch but left elbow to right knee at the top and then right elbow to left knee - you can do a "twist" at the top if you like where you do both elbow touches on the same crunch and then alternate;

    • hand to knee - this is an isometric exercise and I'll just cut n paste what I told Barn: lie down, lift your legs so your thighs are at 90 degrees to your hips, and your shins at 90 degrees to your thighs. Place your hands palm-down against the top of your knees and simultaneously push your hands against your legs and your legs against your hands. This should feel alright for the first few seconds, and then start to kill once you get near your limit. This one is very easy to cheat yourself with, so it can be good to get a training mate to pull your heels away from your body gently in order to increase tension. Being isometric this is a great alternative to straight up muscle compression.

    • back extensions - you know the drill - face down on the floor at full stretch, then hands behind head and raise chest off the ground a few inches, hold, and slowly back down. You may find yourself accidentally using your butt muscles to help here - stop it simply by examining the control you have over your muscles. If you go to a gym they may have a bench for back extensions where you lock your ankles under the bar and bend at 90 degrees to do the extension - this makes isolating your back muscles easier, and you can grab a 20kg weight and do the exercise without activating your butt muscles.

    • back twists - much like the crossover crunch, you do the back extension (on the bench I mentioned above or floor), but once extended, you twist your torso through the spinal plane (not too hard) and then back to level and down again. This is best done with your arms out, and using a broom handle or weight bar (once you get stronger at it) across the shoulders to extend your arms is always good. Note that using the weight bar or broom handle when doing it on the floor is exceeding difficult :nta

    • [url="http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/BackGeneral/CBSeatedRow.html"]http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Bac ... edRow.html[/url] - cable seated row. This is actually farking good for your arms and shoulders as well and can be used not only for lower back but for cardio when done at speed. Just like the rowing machine, but DON'T use your legs A trainer used to do this one to me in between reps of bench press and it hurt like a motherfucker when flat out.

  • Thanks lads. Good tips.

    Appreciate the lengthy post Nick.

  • here's a sit up variation, that concentrates on the stomach muscles like no other I have used.

    Sit in the 'up' position for the standard old fashioned sit ups - no one holding your feet, just you.

    The start going back as you would for a sit up.  As soon as your feet start lifting, go back up, that is one.

    Should be able to do full sit ups like that, no one holding you.  key, never let your back hit the ground, as that is resting.Â

    You will be amazed about how far you can't go back, embarrasing in fact to start with, before your feet leave the ground.  Unless you have strong as abs to start with!!

    I can now do full ones after the fitness trainier at rugby training mocked me to pieces after I was going back about 6 inches before doing a back flip!!

  • Hey IR,
    Here's a few exercises I do to strengthen my core.  You should concentrate on using correct posture for these exercises and make sure you are always pulling your stomach in around the belly button area.  This helps keep correct posture and also targets your 'inner abs'.Â

    Warm up by kneeling on a swiss without holding on to anything and keep you abs braced.  Do this for 3 minutes.  Might take awhile to get used but stick at it.Â

    The plank or bridge.  To do this one you lie down resting upon your forearms and toes. Draw your stomach in and up while keeping your back flat, then hold this position for 30 seconds.  If you find this too hard and can always start off by doing it on your forearms and knees.  Do three sets and when it starts getting too easy just increase your time.

    Swiss ball roll forwards works basically the same muscles but it's always good to vary your workouts.  Get a swiss ball and rest your forearms on it while kneeling on the floor.  Pull your tummy in and roll the ball forward and stop when it starts to pull, then go back to the starting position.  Do 3 sets of 10 reps of this exercise.  When it starts to get too easy progress to rolling for forward so that your knees are off the ground and you’re on your toes.

    Not sure what this one is called but lie down on your back and put your hands by your obliques just above your hips.  Before you life your legs off the ground pull in you stomach and press you lower and mid back against the floor.  You should never be able to get your hands under your back.  Now lift your legs off the mat and make sure you keep back pressed against the floor.  If it's too hard bend your legs a wee bit.  Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

    Go down on to your hands and knees and suck in your stomach as hard as you can for 30 seconds.  It should start to burn after 10seconds.  Do five reps of this and increase the time if it's too easy.

    Last one is to get a broom handle and hold it against your back so that it's touching the back of your head, in between you shoulder blades and your tail bone.  The hand holding the broom handle should be in the middle of your lower back.  Now slowly bend over while holding in your stomach and stop just before you start losing your good form.  Hold this for 30seconds and do it for three reps.Â

    I can't stress how important it is to pull you stomach in while doing all your exercise.  That's all your exercises at the gym not just the abs and core ones.  Hope this helps!

  • I tend to do a lot of my gym-work on a swiss ball (dumbell press, etc), or super-set an exercise (say, squats, leg-press) with another swiss ball exercise that targets a similar area, but involves keeping your core correct.

    As opposed to Nick I do full-sit-ups (drop-set holding plates) and then go straight into doing crunches using a cable pull-down machine (again drop-set). Also either use a rotary-torso machine or do "woodchoppers"- again on a high cable pull, using a rope for the handle and doing a two-handed "chop"across your body,twisting your torso.

    As others have said, try and concentrate on pulling your belly-button towards your spine when doing most of your exercises.

  • Lads - these are all great tips / advice.

    Thanks for your input.

    [quote name='Bones']
    I tend to do a lot of my gym-work on a swiss ball (dumbell press, etc), or super-set an exercise (say, squats, leg-press) with another swiss ball exercise that targets a similar area, but involves keeping your core correct.[/quote]

    Bones - this is what I am trying as well. If you do any sort of free weights work with a swiss ball, and focus on keeping good form during each lift you really work your core as a by-product.

    All it takes now is application on my part...

  • IR, a good core stability one is sitting, back straight on a Swiss ball, and holding a medicine ball at arms length, rotate your trunk without moving your hips as far as you can go.  It will feel relatively easy, and you won't necessarily feel it at the time, but your intercostal muscles will be absolutely killing you the next day.

  • Who are you kidding Dodge?  You've never seen the inside of a gym in your life!

  • As Bart said deadlifts are great. As ar squats. Any heavy lifting not only stresses you core but your entire body and gets all the muscles working together and at the ratios they were meant to. You can fuck around on a swiss ball and so as many crunches as you like but nothing will build your overall strength like these kind of movements. If you want nice abs (which is what many people make the mistake of thinking when they think 'core') then hit the treadmill.

  • try shovelling metal for an hour and  a half - that gets the intercoastal, back, abs, and hammys and shoulders and - the entire body!!

  • [quote name='BartMan']
    try shovelling metal for an hour and  a half - that gets the intercoastal, back, abs, and hammys and shoulders and - the entire body!!

    Spot on big lad.

    Great upper body work out is also forking silage to cattle.

    Shit - I am wasted on an office job...Â

  • [quote name='Irish Richard']
    Great upper body work out is also forking silage to cattle.

    Shit - I am wasted on an office job... 

    Nah - it involves shovelling just about the same amount of shit

    Compared to shearing and shed work, office job is fucking good. Pays a lot better too.

  • and picked up a couple hundred bales of hay last night fund raising for rugby club - that's a pretty good upper body workout too!!  Although with 4 of us, it was hard to raise a sweat!

  • As a fundraiser offer to spread metal/stones on people's driveways. All you need is a flatbed truck or ute with decent springs. A metre of small stone will cover a fair way and it is a damn good workout shovelling and spreading it.

    Nick, don't give up the MTB for a road bike. You'll have to go twice as far for the same burn. It's amazing the resistance those fat tyres give.

    I'm currently on a weight gain (need to put a few on in the right places for rugby) so am ineligible for the comp, but I actually find that an exercise regime helps me bulk up rather than slim down. Riding to and from work is good for the aerobic, especially if running late and having to hammer it.
    has anyone tried boxing? I have been doing it to harden the old body up for taking tackles and hitting the hard ground and find it is an awesome aerobic workout. Once you've practiced the old 1-2 a bit and worked out a rhythm find a favourite song with the right beat about 3-4 minutes long and try to go at that beat for the whole song. Guaranteed o be gasping after that.

  • Using the 'cable cross' doing hammer throws (very similar to what Bones said) is absolutely killing me at the moment. Great for the whole stomach region + legs + arms etc
    Only just started doing these as part of a program last week but I can already feel the difference.
    The good thing with the cable cross is you can increase the weight if you need to make it harder.

  • OK I have only just got back into all this but Toddy's bridge is a killer and really seems to work your core. It is easy to cheat by raising or dropping yr arse but if done properly it is a great workout exercise. Problem is that at 1st your diaghram wants to help out which means no matter how hard you suck it in, you get oxygen debt real fast.

    Only done it twice - 5 reps of 30 secs and I can't hold the 5th. Trainer tells me he did fitness checks with Armed Offenders - one guy held the bridge for over an hr until they told him to give it a rest.

  • Bones et al swiss ball exercises I vouch for.
    But if you don't have elab equipment ie any, you can try this: lie on your back, raise your legs 5-20 deg until you find the angle most difficult to keep them up in the air and [i]then[/i] do the situps, you can also do incline ones if you want variety.
    Always found bent over rows really work the back and the backs of the arms. Put one knee on the bench, grab weight off floor in one hand, lift until biceps are parallel to your torso, repeat with other arm (changing knee of course). In my younger days I think I was getting up to 30-37.5 kgs, 4 sets of 10, would change sets and reps now that I know better

  • Funnily enough we're focusing on core strenght for preseason training more than running endless miles up and down the field.  Here's what we did to kill ab's tonight (all three parts, upper, lower and obliques (the sides)).

    First lower ab's.  The good old leg raise, just lie on your back, raise your feet about 6 inches off the deck and hole them for 30 seconds, three sets will do.

    Second exercise for the upper abs, called many things, but in the army we called them 'V Situps'.  Point your toes at the sky at about a 60 degree angle from the ground, then try to touch your toes with your hands, just get a rhythm going, again 3 sets for 30 seconds each.

    Third exercise for obliques, lying on your back, knees up, feet on the ground, simply touch your ankles with your hand, basically side to side, three sets for 30 seconds (trust me, after the first two this hurts).

    To finish up we did 'bridging", which is basically holding the press-up position (but on your elbows) for about 20 to 30 seconds, the aim is to tense your trunk and keep your body rigid, a couple of sets will do that one.

    The last exercise was bridging, but on your side, rest all you upper body on one elbow, feet on the ground and try and keep your trunk straight, two sets for 15 to twenty seconds each, on both sides.

    It may be hard to visualise these but if you get the jist it's well worth giving it a go, I know I'm going to be bloody sore tomorrow, but the pain was made less be having a pretty hot chick (trainer) taking the guys through our fitness tonight!


  • [quote name='BartMan']
    and picked up a couple hundred bales of hay last night fund raising for rugby club - that's a pretty good upper body workout too!!  Although with 4 of us, it was hard to raise a sweat!

    That's good work. When I was in school I worked summers at a building supply yard. I spent a lot of my time loading and unloading pallets containing about 40 100 pound bags of cement mix. In the heat of summer. Then I used to have to deliver it to contractors, and unload by hand. Hard yakka I can tell you. I did this job for about a year. I was built like a brick shithouse in those days. I wouldn't want to do it again though. After having part of a disc surgically removed from my back last year thanks to heavy squatting, I think my heavy lifting days are over.

  • deadlifts.  Forgot how much they hurt the day after.

    Did three sets, 10 reps, at 60kg - so not a great weight.  but by christ my Hammies the next day thought I had just lifted a word record weight!!

    But they are GREAT, I love them, MORE, MORE  😁

  • There are no better exercises for overall power and total body training than deadlifts and squats. Actually, you can build plenty of muscle and overall size (if that's the sort of thing you are after) by focusing solely on three exercises and lifting heavy:

    1. Deadlifts
    2. Squats
    3. Bench press

    That's it. Throw in some ab work and aerobic training, and you've got the best possible workout for building muscular strength. When I was younger, I went from training 6-7 days a week, sometimes twice per day, to training only 3 times a week and focusing only on power movements--the three above. If power is your objective, this is the way to train. But be prepared to buy new suits and trousers, because you will put on size at a rapid rate if you train properly.

  • Yes, followed a programme for a while doing just that - three days a week, one each day you would cane one exercise heavy heavy and low low reps, other two exercise just heavy and mid low reps.

    ALmost killed you, but was awesome, Imiss all that mad headed rugby training!  Used to train with my prop, who was bigger and stronger than me - each time I would catch up in the weights department he'd pull ahead again.  Everyhwere but deadlift - would beat him there, legs pretty equal, chest he was too much!!

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