LET'S BUILD CORE

LET'S BUILD CORE

ROMAN CHAIRS

Emphasizes upper abs

  1. Sit on the Roman Chair bench, hook your feet under the support, and fold your arms in front of you.

Rest the front of the Roman Chair bench on a block of some sort to create an incline and increase the intensity of the exercise. Keeping your stomach tucked in, lower yourself back to approximately a 70-degree angle, but not all the way back, so your torso is parallel to the floor. Raise and curl your torso forward as far as possible, feeling the abdominals crunch together in a full contraction.

You can introduce variable resistance into this exercise by starting with the front of the bench raised, and then when you are getting tired, lower it to the floor and continue with your set.

CRUNCHES

Emphasizes upper abs

  1. Lie on your back on the Hoor, your legs across a bench in front of you. You can put your hands behind your neck or keep them in front of you, whichever you prefer.

Curl your shoulders and trunk upward toward your knees, rounding your back. Don't try to lift your entire back off the floor; roll forward and crunch your rib cage toward your pelvis. At the top of the movement, deliberately give an extra squeeze to achieve total contraction, then release and never your shoulders back to the starting position. Don't move quickly. Do each rep deliberately and under control.

You can vary the angle of stress on your abdominals by raising your foot position. Instead of putting your legs across a bench, try lying on the floor and placing the soles of your feet against a wall at whatever height feels most comfortable.

TWISTING CRUNCHES

Emphasise upper abs and obliques

  1. Lie on your back on the floor, your legs across a bench in front of you.

You can put your hands behind your neck and curl your trunk up toward your knees, rounding your back. As you do this, twist your torso so that your right elbow comes across toward your left knee. Release and lower your torso back to the starting position.

Repeat, this time twisting in the opposite direction, bringing your left elbow toward your right knee. Continue to alternate, turning in one direction and then the other throughout your set

REVERSE CRUNCHES

Emphasizes lower abs

This exercise is performed by lying on a Bench Press bench that has a rack at one end.

  1. Lie on your back on the bench and reach up behind you to hold the rack for support. Bend your knees and bring them up as far toward your face as you can without lifting your pelvis off the bench.
  2. From this starting position, bring your knees up as close to your face as you can, rounding your back, with the glutes coming up off the bench and crunching up toward the rib cage. Hold for a moment at the top and deliberately squeeze the ab muscles for full contraction. Slowly lower your knees until your rear end comes to rest on the bench again. (Don't lower your legs any farther than this. You aren't doing Leg Raises.) Again, do this movement deliberately and under control rather than doing a lot of quick reps.

HANGING REVERSE CRUNCHES

Emphasizes lower abs

Hanging reverse crunch is another version of Reverse Crunches, and only you do it hanging by your hands from a bar or resting on your forearms on a Hanging Leg Raise bench instead of lying on a bench.

  1. Get into the hanging position and bring your knees up to the level of your abdomen.
  2. From this starting position, raise your knees as far as possible toward your head, rounding your back and rolling yourself upward into a ball. At the top of the movement, hold and crunch the ab muscles together for a full contraction, then lower your knees to the starting position with the knees pulled up. Again, don't lower your legs beyond this starting point.

Many people and most bodybuilders (because of the mass of their legs) can't do Hanging Reverse Crunches. An easier variation is to lie head upward on a slant board. Hanging reverse crunch gives you more resistance than Reverse Crunches on a flat bench, but you can dial in the amount of resistance you want by the angle at which you set the slant board.

VERTICAL BENCH CRUNCHES

Emphasizes lower abs

Vertical bench crunch is a variation of Hanging Reverse Crunches.

  1. Position yourself on a vertical bench that allows you to support yourself on your elbows and forearms and bring your knees up to the level of your abdomen.
  2. From this starting position, raise your knees as far as possible toward your head, rounding your back and rolling yourself upward into a ball. At the top of the movement, hold and crunch the ab muscles together for a full contraction, then lower your knees to the starting position with the knees pulled up. Again, don't lower your legs beyond this starting point.

CABLE CRUNCHES

For upper and lower abs

Cable crunch is an effective one.

  1. Attach a rope to an overhead pulley. Kneel down and grasp the rope with both hands.
  2. Holding the rope in front of your forehead, bend and curl downward, rounding your back, bringing your head to your knees and feeling the abdominals crunch together. Hold the peak contraction at the bottom, then release and come back up to the starting position. Make sure the effort involved is made with the abs. Don't pull down with the arms.

MACHINE CRUNCHES

For upper and lower abs

A great many bodybuilders feel that machines are unnecessary when it comes to ab training. But others swear by some of the ab training equipment currently available. Charles Glass, for example, often has his clients use a Nautilus Crunch machine. However, in all cases, concentrate on feeling the rib cage and the pelvis squeeze together as the abdominals contract. If you can't achieve this feeling, then it may not suit the piece of equipment you are using to your individual needs.

SEATED LEG TUCKS

For upper and lower abs

  1. Sit crosswise on a bench, holding on to the sides for support. Raise your legs slightly and bend your knees, and lean backward at about a 45-degree angle.
  2. Using a scissors movement (this exercise is sometimes called Scissors Crunches), curl your upper body toward your pelvis, rounding your back, and simultaneously lift your knees toward your head. From this position, lower your torso and knees back to the starting position. Feel the crunch as your rib cage and pelvis squeeze together.

SEATED TWISTS

Tighten the obliques

  1. Sit on the end of a bench, feet flat on the floor and comfortably apart. Place a broom handle or light bar across the back of your shoulders and hold it.
  2. Keeping your head stationary and making sure your pelvis doesn't shift on the bench, deliberately turn your upper body and shoulders in one direction as far as you can. Hold at the extreme rotated position, then turn your torso and shoulders back in the other direction as far as you can, keeping the movement entirely under control rather than swinging. Because this exercise contracts the oblique muscles but uses no additional resistance, it keeps them tight but doesn't add any extra bulk that might thicken your waist.

BENT-OVER TWISTS

Tighten the obliques

  1. Standing with your feet apart, place a broom handle or light bar across the back of your shoulders, hold it, and bend forward from the waist as far as is comfortable.
  2. Keeping your head stationary and blocking your pelvis from rotating, deliberately turn your upper body and shoulders in one direction as far as you can. Hold at the extreme rotated position, then turn your torso and shoulders back in the other direction as far as you can, keeping the movement entirely under control rather than swinging.

LEG RAISES

Leg Raises are a traditional abdominal exercise that has fallen out of favour with exercise physiologists. The reason is that the abdominals don't attach to the legs, so raising and lowering your legs works them only indirectly as stabilizers. The muscles that raise and lower the legs are the iliopsoas muscles (hip flexors) that run from the lower back across the top of the pelvis and attach to the upper portion.

FLAT BENCH LEG RAISES

Emphasizes lower abs

  1. Lie on your back on a flat bench, your rear end just at the end of the bench, put your hands under your glutes for support, and extend your legs out straight.
  2. Keep your legs straight, raise them as high as you can, pause, then lower them until they are slightly below the bench level.

BENT-KNEE FLAT BENCH LEG RAISES

Emphasizes lower abs

Lie on a bench in the same position as with Flat Bench Leg Raises. Bend your knees, then raise your legs as far as possible, pause at the top, then lower your legs again, keeping them bent throughout the entire range of motion.

BENT-KNEE INCLINE BOARD LEG RAISES

Emphasizes lower abs

  1. Lie on your back on an incline board, head higher than your feet. Reach back and take hold of the top of the board or some other support.
  2. With your knees bent, raise your legs as high as you can, then lower them slowly, stopping just as your rear end touches the board. Exhale as you lift and inhale as you lower your legs. Bending your knees makes the movement a little easier and helps to increase your range of motion.

BENT-KNEE VERTICAL BENCH LEG RAISES

Emphasizes lower abs

  1. Support yourself on your arms on a vertical bench.
  2. Holding your upper body steady, bend your knees and raise them as high as you can, flexing your abs through the full range of the motion. Keeping your legs bent, lower them again to the starting position.

Any variation of an exercise forces the muscles to respond in new and different ways. When working the abdominals with Vertical Bench Leg Raises, try doing the movement using each leg alternately instead of simultaneously.

HANGING LEG RAISES

Emphasizes lower abs

  1. Grasp an overhead bar and hang at arm's length.
  2. Keeping your legs relatively straight, raise them as high as you can, hold them for a moment, then lower them under control back to the starting position. Keeping your legs straight adds to the resistance in this exercise, which makes the movement more difficult.

TWISTING HANGING LEG RAISES

For the obliques and detail at the side of the torso

Start as in Hanging Leg Raises, hanging at arm's length from the bar and keeping your legs relatively straight. Next, raise your legs as high as you can slightly to the side while twisting the torso to involve the obliques, serratus, and intercostal muscles. Hold for a moment, then lower them under control to the starting position.