Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Real Way To Train Your Core

Every muscle relies on your abs, hips, and lower back, a.k.a. your core. It's your base—and your center of attraction. Here's everything you need to sculpt a rock-solid midsection

1. You can strengthen your core without moving a muscle. Whereas most muscles propel you, your core resists movement—for instance, to protect your spine when you twist your torso. So don't be surprised by how hard it is to stay still in this core workout. You're conditioning your core to do its job more effectively.

2. Slouching sabotages your six-pack. Training your core helps correct poor posture. But an hour a week of core work can't compensate for the 50 hours spent slumped over your keyboard. The fix: Stay tall through your hips and keep your head up and shoulder blades back and down all day long.

3. Core muscles contract first in every exercise. All the energy you exert originates in your torso, before being transferred to your arms and legs. So a weak core reduces the amount of force you're able to apply to a barbell. When you hit a plateau in presses, squats, or any other strength move, ask yourself if you're training your core as hard as you can. 

Side Bridge
Lie on your side with your forearm on the floor under your shoulder to prop you up, and your feet stacked. Contract your core and press your forearm against the floor to raise your hips until your body is straight from ankles to shoulders. Hold for 15 to 45 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Contract your abs and butt muscles forcefully to keep your body straight.

Plank with Diagonal Arm Lift
Assume a modified pushup position with your feet shoulder-width apart, forearms on the floor. Keeping your torso steady, raise your right arm for-ward and to the right, so that it points to 2 o'clock. Hold for 2 seconds, then lower and repeat with your left arm, raising it to 10 o'clock. That's one rep. Your elbows should be bent 90 degrees and directly under your shoulders.

Single-Leg Lowering
Lie on your back with your legs extended straight up. Keeping your legs straight, lower your left leg until your foot is 2 to 3 inches off the floor. Return to the starting position, then repeat with your right leg; that's one repetition. Think about pushing the bottom of your heel away from your hip as you lower your leg. Don't point your toes; keep your foot flexed toward you. Lead with your heel.

Swiss-Ball Knee Tuck
Assume the pushup position with your shins resting on a Swiss ball, hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your abs tight, draw your knees toward your chest until your toes are on top of the ball. Slowly straighten your legs so the ball rolls back to the starting position. Lift your hips as you bring your knees toward you so your shins rise off the ball.

Cable Kneeling Chop
At a high-pulley cable, grab an end of rope with each hand. Go down on your right knee, with your left knee pointing toward the weight stack; this is the starting position. Rotate your torso away from the stack as you pull your hands to your chest, then down and away from you. Reverse to the start. Keep your torso upright as you extend your arms away from your body.


Glute-Bridge March
Lie with your knees bent and your arms and heels on the floor. Push down through your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your body into a straight line from knees to shoulders. Next, bring a knee toward your chest. Reverse the move, then repeat with your other leg. That's one rep. Don't allow your hips to sag at any time during the movement.

Pick Your Plan
3 routines for the results you want. 

-The Fast-Muscle Sequence
Beginning your workout with core exercises reinforces proper posture. That means you'll use better technique to lift more weight in every exercise, which translates to bigger muscles all over. The best part: It takes just 3 minutes.

How It Works: Perform the side bridge [1], followed by the plank with diagonal arm lift [2]. Hold the side bridge for 15 to 45 seconds on each side, then do four to 12 repetitions of the plank with diagonal arm lift. Do this routine at the start of every weight-training session.

-The Painproof Circuit
Have a creaky back? Then this is the workout for you. It improves the endurance of your core muscles, which removes excess strain from your back and distributes weight more evenly throughout your body.

How It Works: Do the glute-bridge march [6], plank with diagonal arm lift [2], cable kneeling chop [5], and side bridge [1] in a circuit. That is, perform one exercise after another without rest. Complete six to 12 repetitions of the glute-bridge march, four to 12 reps of the plank with diagonal arm lift, and six to 10 reps of the cable kneeling chop, and hold the side bridge for 15 to 45 seconds on each side. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit once or twice. Perform this routine 2 or 3 days a week at the end of your workout.

-The Peak-Performance Workout
When your core starts to give out, so does your game--no matter what sport you play. But use this five-exercise circuit and you'll move faster, with more power and greater ease. All told, you'll perform better in any sport--and in the weight room.

How It Works: Do the plank with diagonal arm lift [2], glute-bridge march [6], Swiss-ball knee tuck [4], cable kneeling chop [5], side bridge [1], and single-leg lowering [3] in a circuit. That is, do one exercise after another without rest. Complete four to 12 repetitions of the plank with diagonal arm lift, six to 12 reps of the glute-bridge march, six to 12 reps of the Swiss-ball knee tuck, and six to 10 reps of the cable kneeling chop. Hold the side bridge for 15 to 45 seconds and perform six to 12 reps of the single-leg lowering. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit. Try this at the end of your training, 2 or 3 days a week.

------Hard Move, Harder Muscle------
Squats train your midsection harder than many ab or lower-back moves. Single-leg exercises pose an even greater core challenge. Try this at the end of your workout.

Cable Single-Leg Squat To Row
Grab a mid-pulley handle with your right hand, with your arm straight and your palm facing left. Bend your left leg slightly and straighten your right leg behind you so it's just off the floor. This is the starting position. Row the handle toward your side as you straighten your torso and draw your right knee toward your chest. Do two or three sets of 10 to 12 reps with each leg.

Pull the handle to your side, so your elbow passes your torso.


Workout by Craig Friedman, M.S., A.T.C., C.S.C.S., By Myatt Murphy, Photographs by Scott McDermott, Workout Photography by Beth Bischoff, Posted Date: March 7, 2007

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