“I don’t need to train my abs, I use them enough in my main lifts”

This is what lazy people say. So, I’m going to share my ab training exercises. Direct core training is something I’m a big believer in. It’s something that you can do a lot of if you’re in an imposed lockdown at the moment, as it does not require equipment.

A strong midsection plays a pivotal role in stability of the body and this is something that should never be overlooked. There are many different ways to train your ‘core’ so let’s go through a few different ways I like to do this.

Anti-extension work

As the name suggests, this is where you’re resisting extension of the lower back

Extension is the pattern of creating an arch in the lower back. For example, if you’re lying on the ground and you arch your back and are able to fit your hand under your lower back, that would be going into an extension pattern.

When you are lifting, you want to be able to control the movements of the pelvis. A lot of the time however, people don’t have the strength to control this and it results in them getting dumped into an overly extended position by default. This can result in poor movement qualities and the risk of getting injured.

This is where anti-extension work comes into play.

Ab training exercises that target anti extension include:

  • Planks
  • Hollows
  • Deadbugs

Hollows:

Trunk and hip flexion

When I first assess a client, I generally look at their active range of motion in hip flexion.

ab training exercises

What is an active range of motion?

This refers to taking yourself through a range of motion as far as you can without any external assistance. For example, an active range of motion for hip flexion might be lying down with straight legs and bringing one leg up as high as you can.

If their hip flexion is limited, I would then figure out why this is happening and possibly prescribe some form of hip flexion drill. Developing strength and controlling your hip and trunk flexion means more control in your heavy compound lifts that require this skill, such as heavy squats and lunges.

There are both bent knee and straight leg hip flexion drills that you can use but this would depend on your own individual presentation.

Ab training exercises that target hip flexion include:

  • Leg
  • raises
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Toes to bar
  • Reverse crunch
  • Knee tucks on a swiss ball

Hanging Leg Raise:

Rotation and moving away from the sagittal plane

Developing strength and exposing yourself to different movement planes can be one of the best ways to mitigate potential injuries. Instead of moving in straight lines up and down or back and forth, start pushing the boundaries of movement.

If you play sport or participate in activities that require more than straight lines, this category is for you.

Ab training exercises that target this include:

  • Side planks
  • Wood chops
  • Windmills

Depending on your individual needs, you might focus on one category more than the others. Doing direct core work is a great way to bulletproof your body and to assist in your other lifting endeavours.

If you find it boring, I would suggest trying to super set these exercises with other main lifts or trying some new ab training exercises that you enjoy.

There are also other categories of ‘core’ work that you can address such as anti-rotation however these are a few categories to focus on for now.

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