by: Yuri Elkaim

Today, I’d like to open your eyes to the reality of core training and help you discover why it’s more than just sit-ups.

You see, the problem is that most people go about core training or abdominal exercises in the worst way possible. Here are some examples of what I’ve heard and seen during the past 12 years:

“Sorry man, can’t come out tonight. I gotta do abs.” – courtesy of my buddy Sam

“That was a great workout. Now it’s time to finish it off with abs – I’m going for 500 sit-ups today.”

“Dude, what kind of sit-ups are going to help me get rid of this belly flab?”

And on and on…

Can you relate to these statements at all?

The Death of Core Training

In my mind, the fact that 90% of the population has no idea about what proper core training is all about is due to the fact that we’ve grown up in a culture where we’ve been exposed to ab gimmicks and stupid workouts like:

  • the Ab Lounger
  • P90X “ab ripper” *
  • Hip Hop Abs

* I think P90x is a pretty good program but I’m not a fan of the abs portion – not safe.

And this list is by no means exhaustive.

What you have most likely been exposed to through infomercials and various media outlets is that to get abs you need to:

  • Do a lot of crunches
  • Do dance-like moves that get your core twisting in all sorts of weird ways, or
  • Get lots of range of motion in your abs – by twisting or excessive extension – to better activate them and get a better “burn”

Am I right?

But if you’ve followed my teachings for some time now, you’ll know that this is NOT the way to get six pack abs and lose belly fat.

In fact, following this “mass appeal” advice is going to do nothing more than frustrate and set you up for a potential low back injury (especially if you’re sedentary to begin with).

In sum: core training is not about doing sit-ups, crunches, and moving your torso in all sorts of weird ways… it is the exact opposite

A New Way of Looking at Core Training

I’m guilty of putting in the occasional stability ball crunch or “traditional” ab exercise into some of my workouts but those are generally for my clients that are well-trained and have a good foundation of core stability.

What we need to start understanding is that the primary function of the core is to resist rotation, flexion, and extension. Not to initiate those movements.

Essentially, your core muscles want to keep your torso (and spine) as neutral and as stable as possible. This has been backed up and furthered by extensive research by Dr. Stuart McGill, the “Queensland” group out of Australia, and many other biomechanists and exercise physiology experts.

Much of this research has shown, when you do a sit-up (for instance) you impose a huge amount of “pull” on your lower back. Overtime, repetitive “flexion” exercises like sit-ups wear down your intervertebral discs, predisposing them to potential slipped disc (ie. herniations) or other vertebral issues.

So instead of continuing to do endless sit-ups for your core workout, let’s look at the core training exercises you should be doing.

The 2 Most Effective and Safest Core Training Exercises

Below are 2 of the most effective and safest core training exercises that you should be doing during your workouts.

1. Plank: hold for as long as you can without allowing your low back to droop (cave in)

2. Side Plank:  same idea as the plank but one side at a time. Awesome exercise for your obliques.

Check out these 11 unique plank variations.

In addition, I’ve just put together 3 new videos (see below) showing you some new core exercises that focus on stability – not excessive movement – and get you thinking and training differently.

3. Pallof Press

4. Side Plank Twist (advanced)

5. The Upright Bird Dog

So there we go… 3 new exercises to add to your workout arsenal. I guarantee that these will produce far greater benefits to your abdominal muscles without the unnecessary stress on your spine.

What Next?

Did you enjoy this article on How Long It Takes to Get Abs?

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Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.