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If there is one thing that every trainee in the gym does every single time, or to be more precise what everybody wants to achieve, it must be ABS! I won’t even tell you, how every time when somebody approaches me after a workout and says “ I will do some crunches for my abs”, I am about to get the gun, out of my pocket and shoot myself! 😉

There is nothing wrong with doing exercises for your abs, but the problem is that your goal is wrong! I won’t pay special attention to the myths about a strong, defined six pack, as I already did this HERE( 5 Myths That Are Sabotaging Your Six Pack Progress). Now I will just remind you that what you want to achieve with THE APPEARANCE of your six pack, is more about eating clean!

And the so called “six pack exercises” or to be more precise core exercises, have a whole different meaning! Some time ago I wrote this post “Build a Body That Matters” ( read it HERE). There I payed special attention to the fact that besides helping you look better and get fitter, workouts have one more IMPORTANT goal- to make you healthier. Healthier in the sense that you will be more functional, get rid of unwanted pain and etc.

Well, here is when core exercises play a huge role! How often do you choose your “six pack” exercises mindfully? A choice which is based on not just putting a check on the exercises about your abs, but most importantly a choice, dictated by the conscious will too load specific muscles, in order to make your torso stronger, so you could keep your posture in a neutral position and get rid of unwanted lower back pain ( caused by muscle imbalances).

…yes, no need to answer the question! I guess that you rarely give it a thought! Back in the days, I used to make the same mistake! I had “favorite” exercises and “annoying” exercises. And of course, I rarely did the annoying once. Lucky me, after some time in the gym and in a result of some pain here and there, I decided to learn more and I realized that core exercises are really important and picking the right once is twice as important!

And because as always I am really talkative, let me move on to the meaningful part!

Some time ago I read a really good line: “ The body was not meant to flex or bent over and over again; it is meant to resist.” And here is the key to a healthy and functional body! If you are doing countless crunches, the only thing you could achieve is get injured or contribute to muscle imbalance and bad posture! As you know each muscle in your body has a particular function. By training your body, you need to make sure that you load your muscles in a way that will make them stronger, and help them perform their functions better! Besides that muscles never work independently. Something like a chain. When one link ( muscle) in the chain is weak, then sooner or later it will be torn there, i.e. you will get injured or you will be in some kind of pain!

And what are the functions of your torso? To contribute to keeping your body in a neutral posture! Or in other words the torso should perform anti-lateral flexion; anti-extension; anti-rotation; hip flexion with neutral spine!

Ok, I promise I am done with the boring part! I hope that I did not lose you on the last paragraph!

What does that mean? It means that you should train in a way, that includes and that will strengthen each one of the functions mentioned above!

Let’s start with the exercises, which focus on the anti-lateral flexion.

Waiter’s Walk

Kettlebell Windmill

Suitcase Deadlift

Exercises which focus on the anti-extension

Ab Wheel Rollouts

Ball Rollouts

You could do this with rings or TRX.

Cable Chop

Here you could do the plank and other plank variations.


Landmine Twist

Paloff Press

Hip Flexion with neutral spine

Depending on how you distribute your workouts throughout the week, make sure that you will train your core in all four aspects listed above! Train to become fitter and healthier. Not just better looking!

I recommend you read this article, on Mike Reinold’s website.

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Ines Subashka

Инес Субашка е основател на IFS - зали за кондиционни тренировки и мобилност. Автор е на 6 книги за здравословно хранене и движение.

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