It’s no secret that effective core training has moved far beyond the countless reps of Sit-Ups, Crunches and other old-school staples. There has never been a larger selection of exercises to enhance core strength and stability, thanks to advancements in the industry and the work of many innovative coaches.
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Everyone could use a boost in core strength and/or stability, whether they’re elite athletes or Average Joes. The benefits will carry over into your sport or into your office, and there is no shortage of positive side effects associated with having an efficiently functioning core.
Here are three advanced techniques you can use to take your core strength and stability to the next level.
1. Push-Up to Band Plank
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To execute this extreme core movement, you need a heavy resistance band, a bench and a rack. Start by setting up a bench 6-12 inches in front of the rack. Stretch the band across the rack at an appropriate height—higher is more difficult.
Begin in a push-up position in front of the band setup. Perform a Plyo Push-Up, but instead of landing your hands back on the bench, land them on the resistance band. To achieve this, you must explode up concentrically out of the Push-Up, maintain a rigid core and slightly reach for the band as you elevate.
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Use your core to absorb the force with the band and hold that position with your hands on the band for as long as you can or for a timed interval. I like to perform these in the same manner as a Box Squat, with a controlled reset after each rep and in sets in the 5-rep range. You may also remove the box completely and go from the floor to the band, but I’ve found the bench setup more comfortable and easier to progress as you get stronger.
2. Chaos Carries
I ripped these straight out of the Joe DeFranco playbook. I’ve never seen him perform them, but on his Industrial Strength Show podcast, he has verbally explained them on several occasions. I took that and ran with it. These are not only brutal for core and conditioning, but also extremely helpful hacks for those with limited equipment.
For this version, we connect a kettlebell to a mini-resistance band (or two), then attach the band to a Fat Gripz handle. Easy, right?
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The Fat Gripz handle is great for enhancing grip strength, and you get ultimate core activation from the wobbly kettlebell dangling beneath your hand. For even more of a core challenge, I like to approach these with unilateral loading.
The cues are simple. I’ll spare you another video of my ugly mug walking up and down the turf. Just remain tight, balanced and engaged, breathe efficiently and walk briskly. This is one of the best exercises I’ve ever done, and it’s simple to execute and coach.
3. Resisted Dead Bugs
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Dead Bugs should be a staple in everyone’s repertoire. I don’t know if there is a more scalable, valuable and versatile core movement than the Dead Bug.
The variation I like to coach and perform involves extending one arm overhead and fully extending the opposite hip and leg. At the beginning of the movement, take a deep breath into your diaphragm. Then perform the aforementioned arm/leg extension and take a long, drawn-out exhale while holding the extended position.
Your non-extended arm will be horizontally loaded, forcing you to resist extension at that shoulder and, in turn, forcing you to use your core to its furthest potential. The ability to control the rate and range of extension throughout your torso will pay huge dividends for your core’s ability to perform at the highest level.
Give all of these a try and watch your core strength and stability skyrocket, propelling other aspects of your health and performance to new heights.