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The best abs exercises for a stronger core



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Abs, schmabs. Despite its reputation as the hallmark of fitness, a flat stomach doesn’t really mean much (just that you body fat percentage is low enough to tone your abs).

People should focus more on improvement core strength than achieving a six pack. This article won̵

7;t teach you how to get abs (for that, go here) – but it will teach you how to get a stronger core, increasing your overall fitness, physical capabilities and longevity.

Side effects can include visible abs and elation that you never have to do crunches ever again.

Related: The 3 Most Difficult Training Moves and How to Master Them

1. Do more compound exercises

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Squats challenge your core more than crunches ever will.

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Compound exercises represent the the most effective class of exercise moves anyone can do. Also called multijoint exercises, these movements involve multiple muscle groups at once and require complete core stabilization.

Examples of compound basic movements include:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Pull up
  • Imprints
  • Lunges
  • Shoulder presses

If you’re more advanced, these compound moves can challenge your core even more:

A lot of cardio and HIIT movements also involve multiple joints and muscle groups:

For the best core strength improvement, I recommend focusing on the first group – compound basic movements – and using weights that challenge you. You can use bands, dumbbells, kettlebells or a dumbbell with plates to resist.

Another tip: don’t rush through weighted compound exercises. Adding tempos or specific speed prescriptions to your reps (for example, descending three seconds during a squat) forces you to use your core longer and allows you to focus more on your technique.

2. Practice isometric core work

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Planks will improve your core strength in no time.

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During an isometric exercise, your muscles contract but don’t move. “Isometric” comes from “isos” (equal) and “metria” (measure), and it means that opposite muscles apply the same amount of force to each other, resulting in no extension or contraction.

Also called static strength training, isometric exercises significantly improve core strength because they train the exact function your core needs to excel: staying stable under duress. Isometric core work teaches you to tighten and activate your core muscles and create a strong support base for your limbs.

Add these isometric poses to your core strength routine:

3. Do exercises with one leg and one arm

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Challenge one side of your body at a time to improve core strength.

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The next time you exercise, try the following: See how heavy a barbell can lift with your right arm and then your left arm above your head. If you’re like most people, one side will be more of a struggle. Such muscle imbalances are common, but can be remedied through unilateral (unilateral) exercises, which require moving your core muscles through an extended range of motion while unbalanced by your body weight or a weighted object such as a dumbbell.

Try these single leg exercises to improve core strength:

Try these for your upper body:

Note that all the moves in this section are still multiple free weight exercises – one-sided movements on machines, such as leg extensions, won’t do much for your core strength.

Create a core strength program

A well-rounded core strength program includes all of the above exercises. If your main goal is to get a strong core, the majority of your workouts should be weighted compound exercises. Add isometric hold between sets, or book your workout with isometric work. Sprinkle with body weight, HIIT-ish compound movements a few times a week for one cardiovascular boost.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.


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