As you begin to pass the beginner stage and you develop greater and greater core and abdominal strength and endurance, you are going to reach a point where you absolutely must add new exercises in order to keep your body "off guard."
Of course, you should never forget about the fundamentals. As the great Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Fundamentals win it." However, after you've been repeating the same abdominal exercises and abdominal workouts over and over again, your nervous system adapts.
When your nervous system adapts to your workout program, that coincides with what's commonly known as a "progress plateau." You stop getting stronger, you stop gaining endurance and you stop getting leaner.
That's the signal to change to a new abs and core routine. More importantly, for even better results, you not only change your workout routine (ie, sets, reps, rest intervals, order of exercises and so on), you seek out totally new exercises that you have NEVER even done before!
Some people are at a loss as to what new exercise to perform... they simply run out of ideas. They're always shocked when I tell them that there are HUNDREDS of core and abdominal exercises. Dozens of them are fundamentals, and then there are HUNDREDS of subtle variations on those fundamentals. There is never a reason to get stale, get bored or stay stuck at a plateau.
That's where I come in. Abdominal and core exercises are my specialty and I've got hundreds of them in my bag of tricks. I'm going to teach you some of these lesser-known core conditioning exercises that you have probably never seen before, that will help you smash through any plateau like a sledgehammer through fine china!
Remember, fundamentals are important, so you might only do these new and unique, "esoteric" exercises for 2 or 3 weeks to break a plateau, although you could do them longer if you like the results. In any case, changing your program radically to keep your abdominal and core muscles guessing is one of the keys to continuous improvement and outstanding results
With this approach you are going to get both cosmetic results (having the "six pack abs" look) and functional results (increased static and dynamic stability in the abs and core, improved posture, better athletic performance and more efficient functioning of your entire body as a unit).
The program you're about to see includes some radically different and new exercises than what you're probably used to. When you look at some of the exercises, you may say to yourself that they don't look like "abdominal exercises." That is 100% correct. This is not an "abdominal" exercise program as much as it is a core conditioning program, although believe me, you will feel those abs contracting hard to stabilize your body!
This program works well as a transition between more traditional (fundamental-based) programs, not to mention it will be a welcome dose of variety which will relieve you of the boredom of the same old, same old!
David Grisaffi's "Core In Four" Abdominal Workout Program
|A1 Swiss Ball Lateral Roll||2-4||5-8||Body weight||3-3-3||60 sec|
|A2 2 Arm Pump||2-4||6-8||Body weight||slow||60 sec|
|A3 Dumbbell Arm Bar||2-4||5-7||-2||slow||60 sec|
|A4 Swiss Ball Forward Roll||2-4||4-6||Body weight||3-3-3||60 sec|
"Core In Four" Abdominal Exercises
(A1) Swiss Ball Lateral Roll:
Note: This exercise requires a Swiss ball and a dowel rod
The supine lateral ball roll is an excellent integrative exercise that will challenge anyone - even athletes and advanced exercisers.
Position: Sit on the ball and gently rollout so that your trunk is parallel to the floor. The ball should support your head and shoulders. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Place a dowel rod across your chest and grip it with your palms up.
1. Slowly slide your right should blade off the ball, keeping the dowel rod parallel to the floor and your hips in a neutral position (do not let your hips drop). As you partially roll off one side of the ball, you will feel the opposite side of your waist and core musculature strongly contract to stabilize your body.
2. Slowly return to the middle position.
3. Gently slide your left shoulder blade off the ball and hold for the allotted time (3 second count).
4. Repeat to roll left and right on the ball for the desired number of reps
(A2) 2 Arm Pump:
The 2 arm pump develops many muscle groups, including the entire core. It also develops flexibility at the same time. The 2 arm pump may look a bit like a dive bomber push up or a hindu push up. It is similar, but if you look closely, you can see that it's not the same.
This movement is like a push up into a low back extension, then the hips are lifted, then the hips are dropped, the chest is dropped to the floor, and the movement is repeated.
Position: Lie flat on the floor or exercise mat with your hands flat and pointing forward next to your body at shoulder level.
1. Gently draw in your belly button to activate your core stabilizing muscles. Slowly push up your chest and arch your back with your head up looking forward. Your lower body should remain in contact with the ground.
2. Slowly push back and elevate your hips toward the ceiling. You head will come down and you will be in a push up position with your pelvis up.
3. Slowly return to the first position and repeat for the prescribed number of reps.
(A3) Dumbbell Arm Bar:
Note: This exercise requires a dumbbell or weighted object.
The dumbbell arm bar (or "arm bar roll over") improves stability in the shoulder girdle and is great for balance.
Lie on your back with a dumbbell in one hand. Place the other arm at 45 degrees to the body toward your head. The dumbbell arm is pointed toward the ceiling.
1. Slowly raise the dumbbell from extended to your side to arms length over your chest.
2. With dumbbell at arms length over your body, slowly roll over onto your side (roll toward the open arm side).
3. Cross over your dumbbell side leg, while still keeping your dumbbell arm up toward the ceiling.
4. Roll back over to the starting position and repeat for prescribed reps
(A4) Swiss Ball Forward Roll):
The swiss ball forward roll is a compound exercise involving many muscles and joint structures. It allows you to integrate full body movement while maintaining good form. (note: the dowel rod is not a requirement - it is being used to illustrate proper spine position.)
Position: Set your forearms just below the top of the ball.
1. Gently draw your belly button in toward your spine to activate your transverse abdominis, which aids in stabilizing your pelvis and lumbar spine.
2. Slowly roll out on the ball until you are fully extended. Make sure your arms and hips move together. Make note of when your rectus abdominis starts to contract strongly. This is your stabilization threshold: do not extend any farther. Use this to determine distance as a benchmark for improvement.
3. Repeat for the prescribed number of reps.
"Core In Four" Abdominal Workout Tips:
This routine should be performed every other day (three workouts a week). Don't let the looks fool you - it is more challenging than it appears! Remember to focus on form first. Master the exercise form first before adding weights or reps.
This program was originally designed for my baseball players and other throwing athletes to improve performance and conditioning. A pleasant side effect they all noticed was better muscle development in the abdominal and waistline region! In my opinion, there's nothing better than being more functional and becoming a better athlete while improving the way you look at the same time!
Being that this core program was created for highly conditioned athletes, it was set up as a circuit (sometimes known as a "giant set"), which means all four exercises are done one after another non stop.
This makes it an advanced and highly challenging program, however, if you're a beginner or intermediate (I'm assuming most of my readers are not elite athletes), you can still use this workout. All you have to do is rest 60 seconds between exercises as indicated in the chart above.
If you ARE an athlete or you're highly conditioned, then do this routine with all four exercises in a row (no rest between exercises). Just remember, if you are a beginner, train like a beginner. If you are an athlete, train like an athlete. If you are advanced, train with advanced methods. Always individualize. Never copy someone else blindly.