26 May 5 Ways to Challenge Your Core (Bodyweight Edition)
If any of you had a Memorial Day like mine, it was probably filled with American flag speedos (don’t ask), beer bongs, too much chips and guacamole, white sangria, and using your friend just for their yacht. I love having friends who own boats.
When the festivities were all said and done, you probably felt you needed to hit the gym to burn the calories, but the hangover was telling you to just simply mosey on through the work day and survive.
And with beach season in full swing now, we wish we could do some serious backtracking and return to pre Memorial Day bod. For my males, perhaps you don’t give a shit and you’re comfortable with that “Dad bod.” You are comfortable sporting a bod that isn’t too jacked that you want to splash six pack selfies across your Instagram, or a bod that isn’t so huge you want to always keep a shirt on. It’s jusssttttttt right.
And for my ladies, perhaps you want to look like this for the summer:
Before I turn all crazy feminist and Alice Paul on you guys and bash the double standard until my eyes are popping out of my head, I’ll hit the off switch right now. You’re welcome.
So I’ll just leave it at this: if you want to learn Adriana Lima’s Victoria’s Secret fashion show diet for her body, see this.
And if you follow that…Congratulations! You are a MORON.
While our diet plays a critical role in shaping our physique, I’m not here to slap anyone on the wrist for eating what they want to eat. I’m not here to laud restrictive diets of Victoria’s Secret models either. In the midst of summer especially, food should be enjoyed and not obsessed over. Summer is prime time to relish in BBQs with friends and family, alcoholic cocktails at Jimmy Buffet concerts, and cheeseburgers in paradise. And you bet your ass when I go to Vegas in 20 days, I’m hitting up In-N-Out burger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oh, I forgot…and second breakfast.
Certainly, knowing I’m going to have a bit of a rocky diet this summer, I still want to do my best to look and feel fit. I have ramped up my strength training, focusing a lot on compound lifts, metabolic resistance training, and sprinkling in a lot of extra core training.
My last post on core training 5 Ways Ways to Challenge Your Core included a menu of anti-extension and anti-rotation exercises with the use of equipment only. So if you aren’t one of the cool kids who has a TRX, all colors of the rainbow in resistance bands, or ab wheels, you still have your bodyweight to work with, which costs about $200 less than all of the fancy schmancy workout tools. Slow clap for you.
For all of you determined abs of steel peeps, I have compiled several videos of bodyweight core progressions to work with (all of them still having the anti-rotation anti-extension component to spare your lower backs):
1.) Long Arm Plank
Why It’s Important: Besides being the easiest way to lengthen the lever arm with no equipment, you can still make the move a bit more dynamic by switching back and forth from a short lever arm to a long lever arm in both the forearm and push-up position.
2.) Three Point Plank
Why It’s Important: Once you’ve reached your maximal plank holding record, it is time to move on so you do not continue bore yourself, unless you want to be a total badass and try a basic plank balancing bottles of wine on your back. Your next step would be to give the three point plank a try. This progression has a great rotation aspect, with the unsupported side being pulled by gravity. The challenge is to keep your torso completely parallel to the ground. Generally, I have my clients start in the hand position, but if hyperextension of the wrists is causing pain, I move them to forearm position.
3.) Inchworm Complex
Why It’s Important: A lot of my athletes hate me for this exercise, but the benefits of this one far outweigh the nasty stares and eye rolls I get. Truly, this is an “I told ya so” movement. I use inchworms primarily for dynamic stretching of the soleus, gatrocnemius, and hip extensor group, but also for the core aspect. Feel free to pepper in a push up or two for added work.
4.) Plank with Glute Activation
Why It’s Important: Any chance I can combine core and glute work, I will. Holding a plank while raising one leg up at a time adds a level of difficulty to the plank, but also provides glute activation with an isometric hold for 1-2 seconds in the end position.
5.) Elevated Plank Variations
Why It’s Important: By elevating our feet on a bench, we place extra work on our shoulders and core. This can be done as an isometric hold, or you can progress to the marching movement as shown here: