Having a 6 pack may look awesome, but for a truly strong body you will also need to train your obliques (the muscles at the side of your abs), your lower back, and your thighs. All of these muscles form a kind of support around your midsection to keep you strong and stable while you workout.
The plank is an essential core strength building exercise for any beginners. It teaches you to clamp your entire body, which is very useful when performing other exercises too, such as a squat or pull up. The aim is to hold the position for a set length of time, or for as long as possible without dropping or lifting. If you feel any kind of strain in your lower back rest, and when you try again keep your pelvis pulled in towards your belly button.
-Make a straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
-Keep your elbows underneath your shoulders.
-Keep your pelvis and belly button pulled in to stop your back from arching.
-Stay relaxed and breathe.
-The intention is not to squeeze but to stay organized.
This exercise is great for activating and firing up the core. It will help you develop control when contracting your core muscles. Unlike the plank it involves moving, which means your abs will be contracting and lengthening, but will remain under constant tension. It does require a little bit of co-ordination, but is simple to perform with a little bit of practice. Try 3 sets of 6-10 reps, or whatever it takes to feel your core light up!
-Push your stomach into the floor to close the gap under your back.
-Extend 1 arm and leg straight out from the body.
-Bring your arm and leg back to the middle and repeat on the other side.
The reverse crunch is a useful exercise to help strengthen the lowerpart of the abdominals. Its a great starting exercise that leads into progressions like leg raises, hanging leg raises and eventually, toes to bar. Aim to pull your knees up to your chest enough to raise your hips off the floor, making your stomach curl inwards. Try doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
-Keep your knees bent with your heels close to your bum.
-As you lower your feet to try to keep them slightly elevated from the floor.
-Aim to slightly lift your hips at the top of the movement to get full ROM
The glutes form part of your core and can give you a big boost in strength when they are engaged and used in training. Make sure you don't neglect them. To begin building core strength from the glutes, try glute bridges, which can be performed with or without weight on your hips. Lying with your legs bent, the goal is to drive your hips forward by contracting your glutes;you might need to consciously squeeze to ensure your hamstrings and lower back muscles don't take over. Try 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
-Pivot on your shoulders and push your heels into the floor.
-Move your hips forward by squeezing your glutes tightly.
-Avoid arching your back.
-Keep your hips off the floor as you lower to hold tension through your set.
The side plank will work your obliques which are the muscles on each side of your abs. Like the plank this exercise is performed as an isometric hold, however, you can also raise and lower your hips to make this a dynamic exercise too. Including this exercise in your training regime will ensure that you have stability along the sides of your core. You will also notice your abs are braced on this exercise too. Try holding for a set period of time, or for as long as you can on each side.
-Place your lower elbow directly beneath your shoulder.
-Lift your hips from the ground to form a straight line along your body.
-If you find it difficult try bending and resting on your lower knee.
-Use your top arm for balance or place your hand on your obliques to feel the tension.