Abdominal Training

Let's talk a little bit about "training your abs" shall we. This has always been quite a popular topic of discussion since I have been working in the fitness industry. I hear a lot of questions about it all the time. I only feel it's right to share my main thoughts/approach on it. The way I approach 'ab training' or core training is first and foremost: Train like an athlete and train for performance. When you start training like this you'll start training a lot of different planes of motion Vs just one, in which most people do when they 'train their abs' - via crunches and sit ups (which I hope that by now you don't do). I like to train the core so that it's not only beneficial for looks, but also for your performance more than anything. After all, what's the good in having a set of abs when your lower back is jacked up all the time and you can't run or jump around without getting pain? That ain't fun at all. So that's why it's always important to approach core training with a performance type of direction. Performance training will always have it's benefits, plus it will give you the best of both worlds in helping you get stronger, faster, and more athletic - plus more ripped up and lean (that's if you choose to eat somewhat clean on top of all things). When it comes to training your core I think it's good to approach it by breaking it down into a few categories: 1. Always train the "Big Bang for your Buck" movements. This style of training involves big complex movements like deadlifts, back squats, front squats, overhead presses and your Olympic lifts. Most people don't even think about how much your core actually gets hit when doing these movements, but truth be told, they hit 'em hard (that is, when you do them correctly). My favorite right now would have to be the front squat as those hit your abs like no other. I remember I use to hate these, mainly because my mobility sucked. But since that's improved, I don't hate them as much as I use to. 2. The smaller core movements. This refers to using the movements that are a bit more targeted to hitting your core, but not so complex in regards to the amount of weight you use. These movements include: Overhead squats (lighter, higher rep sets). Any front loaded barbell movement like lunges, lunge step ups, thrusters etc... Double kettlebell front racked carries. Turkish get ups with a db, kb, barbell, or a small person, (I haven't done that last one yet). Single arm movements like db snatches, presses, lunges, overhead walks and carries. These movements all hit the core hard, but are still not as focused on the core as the next set of movements are. 3. Focused abdominal movements: Planks Hanging knee tucks, knees to elbows, toes to bar (strict and kipping) Ab mat sit ups Plate twists/rotations Ghd sit ups, back extensions, hip extensions Hollow rocks and their variations So, get stuck into the big movements, yes they will take up the most time, but prioritise them, that's what you want. This will still allow you to fit in the other smaller core movements. Hopefully I haven't bored you too much with all of these examples, but I feel they are critical to know in regards to attacking your core training.   By: Matt Jones, InnerFight Performance Coach