Notice I didn’t say ab exercises because these moves work way more muscles than just your abs – they work your ENTIRE core.
I could have listed things like the single leg squat and deadlift since they are so great in terms of working your core, but since I’ve talked about them a few times recently, I decided to include some different ones to add to your exercise repertoire.
Really any single limb movement is going to engage your core more be it rotational or anti-rotational. For some single limb movements you can use to work your core, check out this blog with single limb exercises.
Below are some core focused moves that I really love!
- Wall push – This move can either be super easy or super tough…It is up to you. To do this move, stand up against a wall and push into the wall as if you are going to move the wall backwards. Get up nice and close to the wall as if you are at the bottom of a push ups. Drive all the way up through your feet into your hands against the wall. Your core should be tight enough that if someone comes and pushes on you from any angle you won’t move. (To make the move more difficult, have someone actually push on you from all angles as you hold!)
- Pull up and hold – You can do this as a chin up or pull up. You can do it off a bar, off a peg board, off of TRX straps…wherever. But what you need to do is pull to the top of a pull up or chin up and HOLD. Keep your legs straight down toward the ground and your chin above the bar. Keep your chest pressed out and shoulder blades down and back. Squeeze your belly button in toward your spine and keep your glutes tight. Hold as long as you can. This move is also a great way to work on pull ups (especially if you do a slow negative on the way down!).
- Inchworm with row – So when I first started and had to train both of the owners, I busted out this move for one of their workouts because it is probably one of the best full body moves out there! To perform the inch worm, start standing. Place your hands on the ground as if you are performing a hamstring stretch. Then walk your hands out until you are in a high plank or top of a push up position. Then walk your feet back in, keeping your legs as straight as possible until you are back in that standing hamstring stretch. To make this move harder, add a dumbbell back row in the plank position. So with the weights walk your hands out to the plank just like you would with the basic inchworm. In the plank, perform one dumbbell row on each side, then walk your feet back in. Make sure to keep your hips from rotating when performing the row (you want a solid plank position…not butt up toward the ceiling!). To make this move super hard, add sliders or even plate weights that will slide to your feet. Instead of walking your feet back in, slide them together back in, like you are performing a jackknife. The sliders will also make it more difficult as you walk out and as you hold the plank.
- Power Ropes Sidewinders (Can also do rainbows) – I picked this rope move because it is super super good for the obliques and works rotation unlike the moves above which all work in the sagittal plane. In a nice athletic stance, you rotate side to side as quickly as you can, causing the rope to smoothly snake all the way down. You can also mix in some rotation with the rainbow wave, which reminds me a bit of a Russian twist. You start at the hipbone and make a rainbow up to the shoulders and down to the other hipbone. For videos of these moves, check out John Brookfield’s Youtube. He and Ingrid have some great moves for the ropes, including waves and pulls (as well as a lot of other cool random stuff!).
- Windmills (or progressed to Turkish Get Up) – So I actually saw these in an article the other day and was like “I haven’t done these in FOREVER and I used to LOVE them! I haven’t done them in forever because recently I’ve been doing the Turkish Get Up. BUT both are great for shoulder stabilization as well as core strength. To perform a windmill, you can start with out weight. Feet should be about shoulder width. Turn out the toe of the side that you aren’t going to work to about 45 degrees. Straighten the other arm up toward the ceiling. You are then going to hinge over, driving the butt cheek of the arm that is up out to the side as much as you can. Then you are going to stand back up, keeping the arm straight toward the ceiling the entire time.
- Landmine wipers or twists – So this can be both a rotational and anti-rotational move. You can either rotate from hip to hip with the barbell or you can decide to fight against rotating as you lower the barbell down to about shoulder height on each side.
- Sit Thrus – One of my favorite moves. It kind of looks like breakdancing when it is done correctly…at least to me anyway. To do this move, start in a table top crawling position. Start up on your hands and toes with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then you are going to literally sit through. With your right knee bent, you are going to sit through your left side, raising your left hand off the ground. Then return back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. (Check out the top two photos below to see the two main parts of the move.)
- Planks with pulls or waves – So there are actually like three exercises really included in number 8. There is the plank with a pull from either in front or behind. This one can involve a hip hinge like the one show below with the chain.
There is also the plank with a pull through across the body. With this one you reach your hand under and across your body while holding a plank to grab a rope or a sandbag. You then pull the bag or rope across your body to the other side. Depending on your goal for the move, you can either use a slight hip hinge or you can fight against the rotation of your hips to hold a strict plank. And last, but not least, there is a plank with one-handed battling waves. I had my volleyball girls do this one the other day. It is harder than you would think!
- Handstands – Handstands are just an amazing move. A full handstand without support requires a lot of core strength. As you work up to that, you can work on your core strength by doing variations of the handstand. You can start with a downward dog and then progress by walking your feet up a wall. As you get your feet up higher on the wall, walk your hands as close as you can to the wall until you are completely vertical. Once you get in super close, you can advance the move by walking side to side or lifting one hand up to tap your thigh.
- Bar rotations – I found these when reading Nick Tumminello’s articles. He has some AMAZING STUFF about…well…EVERYTHING! These honestly are like a standing variation of the Russian twist, but I definitely like them better! (And I kind of like them when I need to vent a bit of anger…they feel like I’m fighting something haha)
Runners up: I really love these moves as well so want to mention them even if I don’t go into detail.
Medball throws both sideways and overhead. Medball slams both rotational and straight ahead.
Any front loaded exercise like front squats or good mornings. When you front load you force your core to work harder to stabilize!
Also, I love any sort of hanging knees to elbows or feet to bar or even skin the cats. However, since crossfit became popular I feel like most people know those so chose not to include them. Also, those can be incredibly tough and not easily done by everyone. Everyone can do some variation of the exercises above.
I also wanted to include a ton of plank variations…Plank on the power wheel. Plank with reach throughs. Plank with reach back and out. Planks on sliders where you slide your feet backwards and stretch out then come back to starting…ACTIVE planks. I love ACTIVE planks. But there were just so many that I honestly feel like planks need their own full article if I’m going to touch on them!
And last but not least, resistance band rotations and even the stability press…actually especially the stability press. I love anti-rotational moves!
What are your favorite core moves that aren’t either crunches or sit ups?
So one of the challenges for the Under Armour challenge was to film the move you “love to hate.”
It was sort of hard to pick one…just kidding…but not really…
There are so many moves that I really don’t like doing, but at the same time I love them because I know that I only hate them because they are super good for me.
Usually the moves I love to hate are moves that never seem to get easier and almost always leave me feeling tired and sore the next day. They are moves that the masochistic me likes.
The Top 10 Moves I Love to Hate!
- “Walking Lunges” – So these are in the video I made for the challenge. I wear a weight vest while doing them, which only really makes them more “lovely.” To do them you jump up and slightly forward as you switch and lunge on the other side. There is something about this plyometric “walking” forward that is torturous. Your legs burn and you get winded. Definitely a move to love to hate.
- Balance Lunges – These are always uncomfortable and painful. Maybe it is just that my balance isn’t awesome but I never have fun doing these. With these, your back foot is up on a bench and you are balancing in a lunge position. Like with the split squat, you just lower the back knee to the ground without going forwards or backwards.
- Dips – These are also in the video. I did them with a weight vest. They suck enough without it though. These for me are just frustrating. There are some days when I can easily bust out ten in a row and other days when one seems impossible. A great upper body and core exercise though!
- Step ups – I can’t explain why I hate these so much, but it might have to do with the cardio aspect of stepping up and down quickly with weights while my legs burn. I like isolating one leg when I do step ups. I don’t alternate legs and I make one leg do all the work while climbing.
- Overhead presses – I think I don’t like these because my shoulders are weak. Also the burnout of such a small muscle group always gets me. Try not to arch your back too much as you press weight straight overhead.
- Planks – I always seem to do planks after I’ve done shoulders, which makes planks extremely un-fun. Plus I hate any exercise where you have to hold a pose…Maybe that is why I “love/hate” yoga….
- Wall sits – Again…I have to sit still why my legs burn and begin to shake. Who doesn’t love/hate that!?!
- Burpees – So if I’ve killed my upper body, my arms hurt a bit during burpees. If I’ve killed my legs, my legs hurt during burpees. If I haven’t killed anything, I get out of breath and my lungs hurt during burpees. Anyway you look at it, burpees are torturous for some reason!
- Rowing – I’m honestly not sure why I hate rowing so much…Maybe it is the fact that my legs feel like they won’t function and I feel like I’m going to puke when I’ve gone all out on the erg…Yea…I think that might be the reason…
- Pull ups – So actually I love pull ups. Sometimes they frustrate me, but I still love them. I feel like this exercise though is definitely one that most women love to hate…or well just hate for that matter!
What moves do you love to hate?
P.S. Foam rolling video coming at the end of this week!!!
So yesterday night, Candy Ryan and I watched the new Office episode. It talked about the new trend of planking in random places. Of course I was upset to realize that by planking they didn’t mean this:
This second version could, I guess, really work your core depending on how and where you decided to plank, but still…I was sad to find out people weren’t exercising in random places.
I’ve decided Man Bicep should start a new trend…push ups in random places!!! haha Maybe we will try to start this one today…. 🙂