How to get a hard core
Most people only think of the "six pack" when they consider training their core. Yes, it includes the classic rectus abdominus) six pack, but it is so much more than that. For a serious sportsperson, a strong core has nothing to do with whether they have a six pack or not. It's about bullet proofing their midriff and back against injury, and about being able to compete in their sport at a high level enabled by a strong link between their upper body and lower body. A strong core is therefore paramount.
For those that want a six pack, many spend too much time concentrating on exercises flexing at the hip, like the classic crunch, and not enough time on ensuring diet and nutrition is assessed. A calorie deficit is introduced and a sensible plan is followed to lower body fat and reveal a six pack. No amount of sit ups will lead to a six pack if there's a layer of body fat over those abs. No matter how many sit-ups you do, you won’t make a six pack appear if there’s a spare tyre around your middle. You have to get rid of the body fat to see those abs and you do that by all around exercise rather than sit-ups alone.
Conversely, many sportspeople ignores their core, preferring to play the sport or even do beach weights when in the gym. As someone once said to me, “think of the core like a link in a chain. You could have a steel chain, with one polystyrene link, as soon as it’s put under tension, only one link will go; the polystyrene one.” Your upper body and lower body can be as strong as you like, but if the adjoining core is weak, then the whole chain will fail.
Even if you don't feel like you have a weak core, "prehab" would still be a wise move. It doesn't take much neglect for the core to become weak and thus open to injury. "Prehab", if you haven't heard of it, is like rehab, only that you do it pre-injury to avoid injury rather than post injury to help fix yourself and prevent re-injury. A prehab programme is simply a programme to prevent injury of a specific muscle or group of muscles. Below is an example of one week’s prehab core training.
Complete 3 sets of 8-12 reps of each exercise (4-6 reps each leg of alternates/rotations)
- Swiss ball seated alternate leg extensions
- Swiss ball lying alternate leg extensions
- Swiss ball lying rotations
- Heavy Kettle Bell swing
- Cable crunch
- Heavy single arm Kettle Bell push press
- Swiss ball back extensions
Complete 4 rounds of the below. 30 seconds each exercise, no rest between exercises.
- 1a. Kneeling Swiss ball balance
- 1b. Mountain climbers
- 1c. Weighted plank
- 2a. Hanging knees raise
- 2b. Swiss ball jack knife
- 2c. Kettle Bell waiter walk
- 3a. Rollout
- 3b. Side plank reach through one side
- 3c. Side plank reach through other side
- 3d. Hollow body hold
- 4a. TRX pike
- 4b. TRX knees to chest
- 4c. TRX body saw
Once through of the below
- Renegade row 10sets 10reps
- Weighted plank 3rounds, 30sec on 30sec off to failure
- Incline bench reverse crunch 3 sets to failure
- Heavy KB swing Tabata timings
- Two point bridge 3 sets 10reps
What you choose to do for the remainder of the week depends on your overall aim. If you’re playing/training for a sport on one of the allocated core days above, switch the core day to another day in the week to suit your training schedule.
If you are training core to support an overall fitness regime, then stick to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday and train with weights 2-3days a week as well. It’s also worth throwing in some intervals or classic low intensity steady state exercise if fat loss is your overall aim.
A good breakdown might be:
- Monday - core
- Tuesday – upper body
- Wednesday - core
- Thursday - rest
- Friday - core and CV
- Saturday - legs
- Sunday - rest
Whether you’re working out to achieve a beach ready bod, or to build a strong foundation for your sport, a strong core is paramount. Lay the ground work by incorporating the Maximuscle prehab core plan into your training regime.