3 Core Workouts That Translate to the Ice—and to the Field and Court

How can Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask twist his body to block so many shots? He has amazing core strength. Build your core through these three core workouts.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made sure winning Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals was never in doubt for Boston. How was Rask able to control his body to make over 28 saves for the shutout win over the Blackhawks?

Strong abdominal muscles. Rask uses his core to keep his body stable on the ice when extending his arms in multiple directions to make saves.

But core strength is not just for NHL hockey goalies. It's essential for success in every sport. Having a solid core helps LeBron James pivot into his dunks and NFL receiver Calvin Johnson diagonally lunge across the goal line to make touchdown catches.

These elite pro athletes are not performing hundreds of Sit-Ups and Crunches. Those exercises alone don't constitute a good core workout. The following three workouts are fine examples of how athletes should be training their abdominal muscles. Incorporate them into your summer workouts today, and create some astonishing plays for yourself next season.

Core Workout Guidelines

  • Perform supersets with no rest between exercises
  • Rest 15 seconds to hydrate between supersets to maintain the intensity

Core Workout One

Sets/Reps: 3x4


Perform 10 Supermen with arms and legs extended in prone position on the mat. On your last rep, stay in the prone position for a 10-second hold.

Prone Planks

Immediately follow your 10 Supermen with a 60-second Plank hold. Make sure your form is flawless by keeping your hands shoulder-width apart, feet hip-width apart, shoulders down and back and core tucked in.

Seated Medicine Ball Twists

Using a moderately-heavy medicine ball, perform seated Medicine Ball Twists with your feet off the floor for 30 seconds.

Side Planks

Finish with a 60-second right Side Plank, then switch to your left side for 60 seconds.

Muscles worked

  • Supermen: target the upper, middle and lower back
  • Prone Planks: strengthen the lower back, upper and lower abdominal muscles
  • Seated Ball Twists and Side Planks: effectively work the obliques, lower and upper abdominal muscles and lower back

Core Workout Two

Sets/Reps: 2x3

Dumbbell Side Lunges & Twists

Holding a light to moderately heavy dumbbell (60 to 70% RM) at your chest, perform 10 Side Lunges and Twists to the right, then to the left.

Dumbbell Side Chops

After finishing the Lunges and Twists, immediately perform 10 Side Chops using the same dumbbell. Make sure you assume an athletic stance while holding the dumbbell at your right ear level. Then explosively drive the dumbbell across your body to your left ankle for 10 repetitions. Once you finish, switch immediately to the opposite side.

Farmer's Walk

Carrying one heavy dumbbell in your right hand, walk forward 20 yards forward and back, then go again with the weight in your left hand. (See Exercise of the Week: Farmer's Walk.)

Muscles Worked

  • Side lunges & Twists and Side Chops: work glutes, legs, groin, obliques, lower and middle back, shoulders, lower and upper abdominal muscles
  • Farmer's Walk: an excellent full-body movement engaging the core muscles along the spine

Core Workout Three

Sets/Reps: 3 x3

Opposite Knee Mountain Climbers

Beginning in Push-Up position, perform Mountain Climbers for 45 seconds bringing each knee to your opposite elbow.

Bird Dogs

Stay in push-up position and immediately perform Bird Dogs. Start by raising your right hand off mat in front of your head and your left foot off the mat. Hold 30 seconds then switch to the other side.

Single Leg Dumbbell Cross Rows

Holding a light to moderately-heavy dumbbell (60 to 70% RM) in your right hand, assume a squat position with left leg planted and right leg off the floor. Bring the dumbbell across your body toward your left ankle, pause one second and explosively pull it toward your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades for one second. Perform 10 reps then repeat on your opposite side.

Muscles Worked

  • Mountain Climbers: promote lower body endurance and hip power
  • Bird Dogs: enhance balance and stability
  • Single Leg Dumbbell Cross Rows: help improve balance and strengthen back, arms, obliques, legs, hips, groin and upper and lower abdominal muscles

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock