Core training is very important for athletic performance. Having a core that is stronger and has better endurance can improve almost everything athletically. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: to get that shredded, strong-as-a-rock core you’ve always wanted, you can stop the Crunches and Sit-Ups.
Traditional Crunches and Sit-Ups produce unnecessary spinal flexion while ignoring a large portion of the core musculature. You can get way more bang for your buck while saving wear and tear on those precious discs between your vertebrae by avoiding these movements.
So now you know you can stop performing 800 Crunches and Sit-Ups every day; but what do you replace them with?
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There are a lot of options, but this article focuses on static holds, which consist of holding a position that is especially taxing—in this case on the muscles of the abdominal region and hip flexors.
You may be surprised by how tough these holds can be. Just look at any gymnast or barstar. They use static holds all the time in their routines and training. I would venture to say that some of these movements are the hardest things you can do with your body, period.
Here are a few holds you can try.
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- Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you.
- Lean back and raise your legs off the ground, making sure to keep your back straight.
- To keep your back straight, focus on pinching your shoulder blades together.
- Extend your arms out in front, with your hands together.
- For more difficultly, add a slight rotation of your upper body, keeping your hands together and just moving from shoulder to shoulder.
- Aim for 3 sets of 30-second holds.
Box Bent-Knee L-Sit
- Set up two high boxes with enough space between them to fit your body. Angle the boxes so the ends you will be using are closer together than the opposite ends.
- Stand in the narrow end and place your hands on the ends of the boxes with your arms straight or with a slight bend in your elbows.
- While holding yourself up, bend your knees at 90 degrees and raise them as high as you can.
- At first you may only be able to hold for 10-15 seconds, but don’t worry; in no time you will be holding yourself up like a champ.
- Work yourself up to hitting 3 sets for 45 seconds.
Box Straight-Leg L-Sit
- Set up the same as the Box Bent-Knee L-Sit.
- Lift your legs up so they are straight and parallel to the floor. Hold this position.
- Try to work yourself up to 3 sets of 45 seconds.
Hanging Straight-Leg L-Hold
- Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms fully extended.
- Slowly raise your legs so they are straight out in front of you and parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position. If you need make the hold a bit easier, bend your knees slightly and bring your legs in toward you.
- This is a bit more difficult, so aim for 3 sets of 30 seconds.
Ring/Suspension Trainer Bent-Knee L-Hold
- With your arms extended, push yourself up above the handles and hold yourself in place. Like the top position of a dip.
- Bend your knees at 90 degrees and raise them as high as you can.
- Keep the rings or suspension handles close to your sides.
- Try for 3 sets of 30 seconds.
Ring/Suspension Trainer Straight Leg L-Hold
- Assume the same position as the Ring/Suspension Trainer Bent-Knee L-hold.
- Raise your legs straight out in front of you.
- Hold for as long as possible. This is the toughest version. If you can handle it, your whole body is very strong.
- If you’re tough, you should be able to hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
Give these a shot to supercharge your core training and get even closer to your athletic goals!