Sometimes you just want to hit the abs.  Maybe you have just enough time to get something in and why not focus on that area that is usually the cause for most concern?  Perhaps you have all the time in the world but you haven’t given the old core area enough focus lately and as a runner you want to make sure you have good core stability and strength.  Well you are in luck because below you will find a good, basic routine to work your core but not take up a lot of your day.  Depending on how you decide to approach it, you might only lose about fifteen to twenty minutes of your day and you’ll still get a great workout in! 

You can do this routine a few different ways.  You can run through the exercises one at a time taking rest between each set or you can get through them as a circuit, taking your rest in between each round.  Either way you will get a great burn in the core and tighten up the waistline.

Exercise 1: Mountain Climbers.   This is a great exercise for getting the heart rate up, warming up the core muscles, and strengthening the rectus abdomius.

Exercise 2: Plank.  This exercise lets the heart rate come down while focusing on strengthening the lower back and rectus abdominus.

Exercise 3: Knee Unders with Crossover.  With you exercise you will once again get the heart rate cranking as well as hitting the hip flexors, obliques, and transverse abdominus.

Exercise 4: Leg Raises:  A basic old school exercise that will round out the routine but incorporating the lower portion of the rectus abdominus, hip flexors, and lower back.

Rest 45 seconds between each exercise unless you are doing these in a circuit, in which case you should do a set of each exercise and rest one minute between rounds.  Do each exercise for 30 seconds for beginners, 45 seconds for intermediate, and 1 minute for you crazies out there looking for an intense burn.


5 responses »

  1. Mom says:

    Good job son:)

  2. Physiotherapist says:

    I’ve read a few things you’ve posted and nothing you write seems to have any sound anatomical or biomechanical basis. Your post which analysed the pros and cons of sit ups was particularly concerning.

    Every exercise you have listed in the above core routine will strengthen the “core” if by “core” you mean the outermost layer of the middle third of your body, more specifically, the rectus abdominus and possibly the erector spinae. These muscle groups tend to be overactive The word “core” should be reserved for the postural muscles that stabilise the trunk i.e. transversus abdominis, multifidus and the pelvic floor muscle group. Only by strengthening these muscles will you have a stronger back and improved balance. The muscles your routine focuses on will create a rippled 6 pack effect (if there is minimal overlying body fat) but they will almost certainly cause intervertebral disc degeneration, pelvic floor strain and weakness and put you on the pathway towards chronic back pain and possibly stress urinary incontinence.

    • Thank you for your comments and while I always welcome constructive criticism I have to disagree with you on some of your statements. I fail to see how what I write has no biomechanical or anatomical basis. I agree the core is multi-layered and that my post did not cover all those layers but I also prefaced and stated more than once that it was a basic routine.
      I also listed every muscle that would be majorly worked during each exercise. Yes it only focuses on the outer muscles but that was the point of this routine and the muscles worked in it are part of the core. They are not the secondary or stabilizing muscles you listed but they do comprise part of the core. This routine is also meant to get the heart rate elevated so the person doing it can use it to burn calories and not take a lot of time doing it. Thus the calling it basic.

      I agree that people need to spend time working the muscles you listed to fully develop and stabilize the core but that work is not typically done in a basic workout or one that is intended to be more intense.

      This is obviously only my opinion based on my education in corrective and performance exercise and years of experience working with people. While I agree with some of your points because they’re right I also feel some of your claims are misguided as I was very clear about what the routine was intended to accomplish and I do not agree that doing this routine would put someone in a position where they would get injured. If so I would not recommend it.

      • Physiotherapist says:

        “Yes it only focuses on the outer muscles but that was the point of this routine and the muscles worked in it are part of the core. They are not the secondary or stabilizing muscles you listed but they do comprise part of the core”.

        No they do not comprise part of the core. A core is deep, it is comprised of the slow twitch “stabiliser” muscles. You are working superficial fast twitch “mobiliser” muscles. Muscles which are typically overactive and this overactivity leads to muscle imbalance, poor alignment of the spine and pelvis, vulnerability to injury and, ultimately, back pain.

        Please list one reason why you would want to build hip flexor strength in the normal population. What functional activity does it help with? On a more superficial level, where is the aesthetic benefit?

        Please explain how “knee unders with cross over” strengthen the transversus abdominis, as you purport?

        If you can’t hold your lumbar curve in neutral when planking or doing leg raises (and I would bet my bottom dollar that you cant, very few can) then it’s an exercise that most certainly does more harm than good.

        In summary:
        If your aim is to create a routine that strengthens the six pack and raises the heart rate then you’ve done it. But don’t call it a core strengthening routine because people will then think their core work is complete and it hasn’t even started. If you called it a six pack strengthening routine then I would not be criticising you for using the wrong nomenclature, but I’d still be criticising you for not demonstrating that you understand how critical it is to achieve core stability before you train the rectus abdominis, particularly in rapid dynamic exercises.

        If you have access to journal articles, you might find this explains things a little better.

        C.M. Norris, Functional load abdominal training: part 1, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 3, Issue 3, July 1999, Pages 150-158, ISSN 1360-8592, 10.1016/S1360-8592(99)80020-5.

      • I feel I see your complaint better and I understand where you are coming from in terms of the semantics. I can even follow your logic about the activity and prescribed exercises. However I have to reply with some disagreement. I personally cannot find any published article or medical “anything” that does not include the rectus abdominus as part of the core. I agree it’s part of the mobilizer group of muscles but that is all still part of the core. Perhaps not the inner most or more intricate part of the core but still part of it.

        As to your hip flexor issues. This is a running site and the hip flexor’s level of strength and mobility is quite essential to runners. That is why they’ve been incorporated into the routine. To the transverse abdominus point those muscles lie under the internal obliques which are typically activated by rotational movement. By bringing the knees under and across the assumption is that the obliques get worked and the movement should include, if not force, a drawing in of the abdomen. This vacuuming of the abdomen should bring an incorporation of the TVA.

        I agree with your thoughts about stability and how the average person is lacking proper strength levels for most of the movements they do. The problem is that most people will never take the time to develop that strength and stability. It’s just the nature of this world so I work within it as best I can in an attempt to help as many people as I can. The exercises listed here are typically considered quite basic and that’s why they are listed. It’s fairly difficult to properly describe more advanced movements and feel a person will know how to do them correctly. That’s why they see professionals in person.

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