“More core, more core, more core!”
This is the request/demand I get when I ask my clients what they would like to see more of in their workouts. It’s almost as if I can hear their fits pounding on the table, not satisfied until I give in to the chant.
Let me make something clear, it’s not because I don’t already incorporate plenty of core moves into the workouts that I design, it’s because working the core as much as possible makes people feel as if they are working towards a flatter, more toned stomach.
Am I right?
It makes sense! I mean even I love waking up with a stomach that is a bit sore with each little chuckle. Having our “trouble” spot tender post workout makes us feel as if that trouble spot won’t be a trouble much longer.
Because y’all love ab exercises so much (as do I), I am going to share with you something special today…
My favorite core exercises that use weights.
Now before you hit the play button, let me make something perfectly clear:
These moves will not give you a 6-pack stomach!
These moves will help to strengthen your core to help improve your overall fitness, help ward off back pain, and will of course help to develop the muscles that are in your stomach.
Oh and they’ll also help with handstands!
But they aren’t going to get rid of the fat the resides on top of them. Only a clean diet and a total fat burning workout can do that job.
So should you not do core work? Of course you should, like I said ab exercises are extremely important to overall fitness, mobility and even health! But don’t do these moves for 100 reps with a false hope.
The Best Core Exercises With Weights
A quick recap of the exercises…
Rack & Overhead Holds
- Simply holding a weight on just one side of the body takes incredible core strength!
- Stand up straight, squeeze your butt and engage the core as you hold a weight either straight overhead or in the “rack” position.
- Don’t have a weight? Make one:
- Amazing for the obliques!
- Start on your knees in a lunge, with the front knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Press your weight overhead, rotate from the core and you lower your hand down to the ground.
- From the core, return to start.
Low Windmills (Standing)
- Start standing with one foot turned out completely, the back foot turned in to 45-degrees.
- This is a hip hinge move (like kb swings).
- Push your hip out as you lower your body down, allowing your hand to trace along your leg.
- Contract the abs to return to start.
Pullover Toe Touch
- Start by laying down, with a weight at your chest and legs up to the sky (straight and together).
- Complete a weighted pull-over and at the top of the move, contract your stomach to “crunch” up to reach the weight towards your toes.
- Sit down with a weight to the side of you. Pull your feet off the ground, and rotate the weight from side to side.
- A modified version is keeping your feet on the ground.
- Yes, I’ve done this move in several videos because it’s one of Dan’s favorites!
- This is tough but awesome! Make sure to concentrate on pushing your back flat to the ground to avoid pressure to the lower back.
- Simultaneously pull the feet off the ground (around 6-inches) as well as the shoulders so that you are looking at your toes.
- Control your body as you rock back and forth.
- Start just like above but don’t rock.
- Hold the weight above you and slowly lower it to a position with straight arms that you can hold while maintaining proper form.
- Start by laying on the ground, holding a weight.
- Using your core, come up onto your butt while pulling your knees in as well. Lower back down, but avoid allowing the feet to make complete contact with the ground before repeating.
- Sit on the ground, holding a weight.
- Slowly, pull the knees in towards your body and straight your legs.
- Squeeze your abs to maintain balance as you complete shoulder presses with the weight.
How To Add Core Moves To Your Workout
Remember how I mentioned that everyone wants to do more core targeting workouts?
Let me just go ahead and confess… I will never do a workout that is nothing but ab moves. There is no point to that, and I am all about making the most effective and time efficient workouts possible.
Remember, if you want to increase your fat burning potential, if you want to have a flat stomach, then you need a total body workout that INCORPORATES core work but doesn’t center around it.
The 5 Core Rules Of Core Workouts
1. Target the abs towards the end of a workout.
Your core is used in so many moves… from squats to sprinting! So, if you burn it out before you even get started, the rest of the workout can suffer.
2. The core deserves a rest day.
You wouldn’t work your arms two days in a row, right? Then why would you put your abs through that?
Like all other muscles, they need time to recover so that they are able to grown stronger.
3. Abs make the perfect active rest.
One way I add in core moves is by making it apart of active rest. Between circuits or exercises, it’s not unusual to see me doing a 60-second plank or pumping out some leg raises. Nothing too intense, but if done throughout the duration of the workout… it adds up!
4. The core is more than just abs.
Keep in mind that the core includes not only the abs, but your entire trunk. This includes your back.
For a balanced program, make sure that you’re spending amble time on your back as well. Think of your legs… you know it is important to work your hamstrings and your quads! A balance workout helps yield faster results as well as battles injuries.
Think back extensions and good mornings!
5. Be different and push harder!
Just like your legs need to be continuously challenged in order to see results, your stomach is the same.
Don’t rely on the same workout every single time. Up the reps, the weight, the moves, etc. in order to challenge the muscles and keep them on their toes!
Exercise is meant to stress the muscle fibers, so if you do the same old thing and it adapts then results will be extremely slow!
If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Mine would either be jump rope or burpees! Both do a great job at working all the major muscle groups in the body!