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It's great to work your core, but why do core exercises in isolation when you can work your entire body? Here are some highly functional exercises that will translate to a longer drive, a harder punch, a faster pitch and a granite midsection. Whether you want to improve your aesthetics or train for athleticism, these exercises will do the trick.
Barbell Russian Twist
This exercise is best performed using a landmine attachment inserted into the center of a 45-pound plate. If you lack a landmine, simply stick one end of a barbell into the bottom corner of a wall.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding the top of the barbell in front of you with your arms extended.
- Lower the bar to one side, ensuring it stays "square" to your chest while you simultaneously rotate your hips in the direction of the bar.
- Repeat in the other direction.
Start with easy resistance to prevent hip or back injuries. Rotating the spine with too heavy a load is dangerous. This a great exercise for athletes who need rotational power for pitching, making a drive to the green, or throwing a knockout overhand right.
See it here:
This is one of my favorites. It really emphasizes the contra-lateral transition of power. In other words, when your hips rotate against resistance, this exercise translates the power generated from your hips to your opposite-moving upper limbs. This is critical for sprinters and other athletes who need a hip-to-shoulder girdle power transition, as in a tennis serve. This exercise also works great for cyclists, because they have to shift their power from one side of their body to the other.
- Set two cable towers to about mid-abdomen height.
- Be conservative with the resistance, as this exercise is more about going through the motor patterns technically than moving a heavy load.
- Stand between the two towers, one arm reaching forward for the cable in front of you and one reaching for the cable behind you.
- The arm that is "pulling" has its corresponding leg in the front position ("right arm, right foot").
- The opposite arm performs a chest-press-type movement.
- Perform the push-and-pull sequence simultaneously, ensuring that as you push the weight, you pivot your hips toward the weight.
See it here:
Another fave of mine! (Actually, can't they all be my favorite?) I originally started integrating this exercise into prescriptions for my kayaking clients. Many of them complained about experiencing extreme core fatigue.
For this exercise, you perform a Sit-Up without rotating under a resistance.
- Sit perpendicular to a cable tower and grab the cable handle with both hands.
- A conservative resistance is a better option as this exercise isn't about going heavy, but rather maintaining a firm, tall core without "crumbling" throughout the movement.
- Hold the handle in front of you, keeping your arms straight at all times.
- Perform a Sit-Up as you normally would, without allowing the weight to collapse your core.
Here's the video:
Barbell Windshield Wiper
Ahhh....the wiper. This is a great exercise for intermediate level fitness enthusiasts. It forces your upper body to stabilize against a load while activating your lower half.
- Hold a barbell in the "up" position of a Bench Press.
- Lower your legs to one side of your body.
- Repeat for the other side.
If you're a beginner, try this exercise with both knees bent at a 90-degree angle to reduce the difficulty. To increase the difficulty, try it while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Stability Ball Roll-Out
Alas, we've made it to the last exercise. If you don't have an ab wheel, this exercise is a great replacement.
Proper technique here is critical to reaping the benefits, as it combines the plank with dynamic shoulder extension.
- Draw your abs into your spine and hold them there throughout the entire course of the exercise. If you feel strain on your back, your abs are no longer engaged and your back is compensating.
- Kneel down on a mat and put a stability ball in front of you.
- Push the ball forward with both hands, reaching as far as you can.
- Press your hands down into the ball—almost as if you are trying to push through the ball toward the floor—and move your body back to the starting position.
Keep your arms nice and straight. A slight bend in the finishing position is OK. However, if your arms are bent 90 degrees or more, they are bending too much.
Now give it a try:
Check out my previous articles on this topic: "5 Vital Core Exercises You Aren't Doing" and "5 Core Exercises That Work Your Entire Body."