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Hard Core Training: 3 Muscle-Building Core Workouts

Your core consists of dozens of muscles that perform multiple tasks, including holding you upright and protecting your vital organs. Strengthen your core with these 3 workouts!
Q
What exactly is the core?

Some fitness experts say: "Your core muscles are probably the most important group of muscles in your body. They literally hold you up. Your core muscles are responsible for your posture, and they are the basis of your strength. Your arms, legs, and head all rely on your core for support and balance."

Huh? For real? I don't know about you, but I think my head, arms, and legs are pretty important. To say that one is more important than the other is like saying the left wing of an airplane is more important than the right.

Basically, the "core" is your torso. Chop off your upper and lower extremities, and guess what? You're left with the core. But remember that your body works as a machine. All the moving parts are integrated beautifully so that you can dance with the grace of Baryshnikov, kick the crap out of the bad guy like Bruce Lee, and do back flips like Nadia Comaneci. The "core" is one important part of many important parts in the human form.

The Muscles of the Core ///

The best way to think of this is to imagine a group of muscles wrapping around the torso. The main muscles include those of the back or posterior.

Posterior Core Muscles: Erector Spinae (large muscles that run vertically giving you a "Christmas tree" effect if you are muscular), Latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, gluteus maximus (glutes), etc.

Anterior Core Muscles: Rectus abdominis (six-pack), internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, and hip flexors.

Core Workouts ///

There is more than one way to work the core. Here are a couple of different options for effectively working your core.

Traditional Core Workout
Unique Core Workout
  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    2 warm-up sets; 4 sets, 5, 10, 15, 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunges Dumbbell Lunges

    Dumbbell Lunges

    4 sets, 24 reps per leg
  • (Note: It may look odd to hold one dumbbell, but think about it: If you hold one dumbbell, it forces the obliques, spinal erectors, and quadratus lumborum muscles to fire in an attempt to stabilize your torso.)

  • Pushups Pushups

    Pushups

    2 sets, to failure
  • Single-Arm Push-Up Single-Arm Push-Up

    Single-Arm Push-Up

    2 sets, to failure
  • (I once had a teacher tell me that if you do push-ups every day, you'll never have to do another sit-up in your life.)

  • Jackknife Sit-Up Jackknife Sit-Up

    Jackknife Sit-Up

    3 sets, 12 reps
  • Plank Plank

    Plank

    Keep your body in a straight position and hold for at least 60 seconds. Lift one foot in the air for added difficulty.

Non-traditional core training ///

1. Go to a batting cage and hit some baseballs or softballs.
Think about it: No movement activates the core better than rotating your torso while swinging a bat, trying to hit a ball faster than a teenage girl can scream, "It's Bieber time!"

2. Paddle on a kayak, outrigger canoe, or dragon boat.
Perhaps some of the best and most enjoyable core work involves a body of water, a paddle, and a boat. The rotation/flexion/extension involved in paddling sports makes this a favorite among core enthusiasts.

3. With a training partner, do wheelbarrow training.
This is something you probably tried in grade school. Get a workout partner, grab his legs, and have him walk on his hands. Can you visualize? This is an effective core workout, and it's a blast! Just don't drive your partner's face into the ground. Not a blast.

4. Punch and kick a heavy bag.
Do you ever leave work pissed off? Well, go to a boxing or MMA gym, put on some gloves, and beat the stuffing out of the heavy bag. The whole-body movement of punching and kicking will activate the core like crazy.

5. Do one of the grappling martial arts: wrestling, judo, or jiu jitsu.
Whether you're a fight fanatic or not, the grappling arts will train your core. Just try not to kill your sparring partner.


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SkUlLstArSsMokE

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SkUlLstArSsMokE

Im definitely doing these!

Jan 7, 2013 5:03pm | report
 
atokad

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atokad

hanging leg raise, decline crunch, and DB side bends work just fine for me

Jan 7, 2013 5:22pm | report
 
sterling44

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sterling44

Hanging leg raises, Weighted decline sit ups, and cable crunch's

Jan 7, 2013 7:05pm | report
 
Rownd

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Rownd

YES! These are my favorites!

Feb 3, 2013 10:08am | report
DoNNiii

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DoNNiii

Cable crunches? when your on your knees and hold the rope behind your head and crunch ?

Jul 15, 2013 4:52am | report
NiasBalata

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NiasBalata

my core & abs workouts are almost the same :)

Jan 7, 2013 10:37pm | report
 
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'11"
  • wt: 181.28 lbs
  • bf: 17.3%
001DMC

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001DMC

Squats work everytime.

Jan 7, 2013 11:51pm | report
 
Archinfinite

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Archinfinite

One arm incline press paired with one arm rows (standing with a staggered stance without using hands). You will feel it if you forego the rest for 3-4 sets

Jan 8, 2013 5:22am | report
 
revoo

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revoo

gotta try that

Jan 8, 2013 10:09am | report
 
kasundhanushka

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kasundhanushka

its in my list

Jan 8, 2013 12:00pm | report
 
dapperdon77

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dapperdon77

Squats, decline crunches with weight

Jan 8, 2013 12:28pm | report
 
cdiniz

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cdiniz

SQUATS!!!

Jan 8, 2013 12:34pm | report
 
BeachBody25

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BeachBody25

I love squats!

Jan 10, 2013 11:16am | report
audioartemis

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audioartemis

Definitely gotta try that "unique" core workout a shot! The single arm pushups got me curious. Gotta work on the weak-side body imbalance!

Jan 8, 2013 12:42pm | report
 
zombiedrill

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zombiedrill

NOTHING trashed my core as much as my first Brazilian JuJitsu class. 7 days to recover!

Jan 8, 2013 1:04pm | report
 
tal9123

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tal9123

Core? What about Deadlifts?

Jan 8, 2013 1:24pm | report
 
Homix

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Homix

Single-Arm Push-Ups to failure! That's like half rep =)

Jan 8, 2013 1:25pm | report
 
alex192

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alex192

Haha. I was thinking the same thing!

Jan 8, 2013 6:50pm | report
lildochwd

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lildochwd

My core has been the hardest thing to work on. I'll get there.

Jan 8, 2013 7:46pm | report
 
blueeyes065

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blueeyes065

love kickboxing!

Jan 9, 2013 8:45am | report
 
alaaalou

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alaaalou

me too

May 6, 2013 9:22am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'10"
  • wt: 169.76 lbs
  • bf: 10.0%
danielmcfalls

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danielmcfalls

back in the Marines i saw the best results doing leg lifts and while doing so instead of up and down hold it half way up , have ur partner hold up his hand. while you go clockwise around his/her hand then in reverse. we did 4 sets of 25 both ways. but id will add some of these since my abs are so far gone lol.

Jan 10, 2013 7:39am | report
 
ChrisLiu

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ChrisLiu

got to try this!

Jan 11, 2013 7:51am | report
 
Fightingathlete

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Fightingathlete

Any martial arts training is great for your core, I train muay thai and the core is the centerpiece of most of the workouts. I like how this article mixes it up!

Jan 11, 2013 10:30pm | report
 
robdoglol

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robdoglol

Taekwondo here.. couldn't agree with ya more

Jan 16, 2013 6:08pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 58 Comments

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