Better Than a 6-Pack

May 6, 2013 | Allen Langford

Sure, it's great to have solid lower- and upper body strength, but your core is the pinnacle of your training. It directly affects everything from your breathing, posture and stability to your total body strength. (Read why in The Athlete's Core.)

People get too caught up in the glory of having a 6-pack. No amount of Sit-Ups and Crunches will strengthen your core. In fact, they probably won't even get you a 6-pack. (See Death of the Crunch.)

Even athletes with 6-packs can have weak cores. That's because the core is more than the abdominal muscles. It's also comprised of the hip abductors/adductors, hip flexors and lumbar spine.

How do you know if your core is truly strong? Take the following test to see how your core STACKs up.

Superman

When performing this exercise, if you're unable to lift your arms and legs at least two inches off the ground, your core is weak and you need to do this exercise every time you work out.

  • Lie on your stomach on a mat or the floor.
  • Face your head down with your toes on the ground.
  • Lift your arms and legs as high as you can while keeping them as straight as possible.
  • Tighten your glutes and your lower back as much as you can.
  • Hold the top of the position for two seconds before coming down.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.

To increase the intensity, alternate lifting only your right leg and left arm (and vice versa) for 12 to 15 reps.

Planks

If you are unable to perform a Plank for one minute, your core is weak and you need to perform this exercise every time you work out. If you can hold a Plank for one minute, try performing it for shorter intervals with little rest between them.

  • Lie face down on the floor or a mat.
  • Position your elbows under your shoulders and plant your feet on the ground.
  • Raise your body off the ground and bear all your weight with your forearms and feet.
  • Keep your body in a straight line. Your butt and hips should not sag near the ground.
  • Tighten your stomach as much as you can.
  • Hold this position for at least one minute.

To increase the intensity, extend your right arm and lift your left leg and hold for 20-30 seconds (and vice versa).

Stability Ball Reaching Plank

  • Grab a 55cm stability ball and place your hands on the side of the ball.
  • Keep your body upright. Your chin should be right over the ball.
  • Keep your feet on the ground and your legs together. Your body should be in a straight line.
  • For 30 seconds, move the ball backward and forward without changing your upright position. The only thing that should be moving is yours shoulders.
  • If you are unable to balance your body, then your core is weak and you should do the exercise on your knees.

To increase the intensity, bring your right knee toward the ball as you move it; switch sides after 15 to 20 seconds.

These exercises are good for testing your core strength. Don't get caught up in the 6-pack craze. Strengthen your entire core. Your whole body will get stronger and your performance on the field will improve dramatically.

Topics: CORE | ABS
Allen Langford
- Allen Langford is the director of performance coaches at Athletic Body Mechanics in Houston. A former four-year starting cornerback at the University of Wisconsin, he...
Allen Langford
- Allen Langford is the director of performance coaches at Athletic Body Mechanics in Houston. A former four-year starting cornerback at the University of Wisconsin, he...
Must See
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,008,240
RGIII Talks About His Legacy RGIII Talks About His Legacy
Views: 29,796,331
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 5,741,735

Featured Videos

James Harden Resisted Euro-Step James Harden Resisted Euro-Step Views: 27,251
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,312
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,074
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,792
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,829
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,228,339
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,429
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 890,413

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

YardBarker