Feb 4, 2013

In Part 1 we covered the lower body, Part 2 covered upper body, and the next logical piece of the anatomical puzzle would be the CORE.

I really loathe using that word but technically it's in the middle and it's the direct connection between your upper and lower halves. This is a seriously important thing to remember. All of the power generated by your legs will have to pass through your core in order to reach your upper body. And this will happen in every plane of motion and at every angle possible. So keep in mind that your "core" is a lot more than just that ever-so-elusive 6 pack.

We will break down our core movements into 4 subcategories:

  • Rotation/Anti-rotation
  • Flexion/Anti-extension
  • Lateral Flexion/Anti-lateral Flexion
  • Complete Usage


You've done these before and you've probably done them incorrectly. Woodchops are very useful for teaching the core to stabilize during rotation. Make sure you are using your legs to drive the weight and not just throwing it with your arms. Keep your stomach TIGHT and don't twist your torso too much. Go from high to low or from low to high, use a cable stack, bands, a medicine ball, or whatever you have available.

Grappler Twists
I really like using these when I need to teach some one how to utilize their hips and core to generate rotational power. The move itself looks very similar to a hip throw in judo. To explain it in words would take considerably too long and would probably be confusing as hell so please check out the video below.

Pallof Presses
These are probably the easiest and most effective ant-rotational exercises you can do. The learning curve is below minimal and they work right from the start. I use bands but you can easily utilize a cable stack and do the same thing. Again an explanation would be too wordy so direct yourself to the video below.


Hollow Body Holds
This fundamental gymnastic position will transfer over to increased athletic ability and body awareness. It is the same position you would be in during a handstand and just about every other gymnastic movement. Lay on your back, press your back into the floor by contracting your core, lift the legs about 6 to 8 inches off of the floor while pointing the toes, and extend your arms overhead with your shoulders off of the floor as well. The goal is to be able to hold this position for 60 seconds. Take your time with this and perform multiple sets of a few seconds until it adds up to 1 minute. Gradually increase the amount of time you hold the position.

Ab Wheel Rollouts
Rollouts have been a great addition to my core training arsenal. You don't just have to use an ab wheel either. You can use a barbell, TRX, rings, or even furniture sliders. Keep your core tight and don't let your hips sag AT ALL during the entire movement. Squeeze your glutes and roll out and back with control. When these become easy try adding a weighted vest, a weight plate, or perform them standing.

Yet another exercise derived from gymnastics, the l-seat will make your core bulletproof. The position looks exactly like it says in the name - an "L". You prop yourself up in the top portion of a dip, point your toes, raise your legs until they are parallel to the floor, and then slide your butt forward until it is even with your hands. This is NOT EASY. There are a few regressions that can be utilized to get you where you need to be and once again I will reference a fantastic resource - "Building The Gymnastic Body" by Coach Sommers.

Hanging Leg Raises
As simple as they might seem, hanging leg raises are often performed incorrectly and can lead to inflammation of the biceps tendon, shoulder issues, and a sore lower back. Don't turn these into the BS crossfit move where you swing your toes up to the bar with hip drive. Use a controlled motion and strive to bring your toes to the bar with as little swing as possible. And don't use those straps that you put your arms in either. Hang from the bar and do them right. Not only will these strengthen your core, they will strengthen your grip, lats, and upper back as well.

Lateral Flexion/Anti-lateral Flexion

Side Bends
These are an oldie but a goodie. Grab any implement you like and hold it in one hand directly at your side. Lean towards that side by dragging the working hand toward the knee being careful not to lose thoracic extension or pushing your hip out too far to the opposite side. Lower and return under control.

Suitcase Carries
Nothing like picking heavy weight up off the ground and carrying it for distance with ... one hand? Suitcase carries are farmer's carries with the only one hand. Start off light and for stability raise your opposite hand out to your side about shoulder height. Yeah that pain you're getting on your side and inbetween your ribs, those are obliques and intercostals. Thank me later.

Complete Usage

Turkish Getups
The reason I put these into a category all their own is I can't really pinpoint one movement pattern. TGU's hit every aspect of the core in dynamic fashion (through movement). Instead of burdening you with any more reading just check out the video below for an example.

The last installment of the biggest bang for your buck exercises will include my go-to EXPLOSIVE movements to make you more powerful and athletic. Stay tuned.

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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