Time and time again, clients come to me with the same complaint. That complaint usually sounds like this:
"All I do is work out, but where is my six pack?"
Well, I usually rebut with this statement:
"What are you doing to create your six pack?"
Now, the answer usually consists of some sit ups, maybe some planks and the occasional leg lift.
But notice the word that I used in my rebuttal. I used the word create. When I hear that word, I think of art. And then the Sistine Chapel comes to mind. Michelangelo did not simply paint the chapel (as if he just painted by numbers and slapped some colors on that ceiling Happy Trees style). It took years of planning, strategizing, organizing and commitment to create his masterpiece. As with the masterpiece, your core needs to be worked in different ways, focusing on different muscles in the region and using different tactics to create a final product that is up to par.
I totally understand that your abdominals are not a wonder of the artistic world (well, maybe you'd like to think they are). Yet, your core is a pillar of your livelihood. It is an integral part of our health, as well as an aesthetic part of our existence. In laymen's terms, we want our core to look like Arnold, feel like Superman (or woman) and keep us young like Jack LaLanne.
To get the most well-rounded core (well-rounded meaning healthy, strong and good-looking), try these five tips.
1) The Around the World Plank
The Around the World consists of three different movements: the hi plank, the side plank and the reverse plank. First, perform a normal hi plank for 30 seconds. Immediately after this, roll to your right without touching the hips to the ground. Perform a right side plank for 30 seconds. After this, roll over onto your rear without ever touching it to the ground. You should be on your hands and heels, tabling out your body and head facing towards the sky. Hold this for 30 seconds. Roll to your left, don't touch the ground, and hold left side plank for 30 seconds. Finish back where you began, in hi plank, and hold for an extra 30 seconds. Trust me, you'll be burning after this. But add on two to three more rounds of the Around the World, and you'll be on a path to the core you seek.
Check Out the Around the World: http://youtu.be/sdsJTCdMrKE
2) The Hammy Crusher
Think about a one-leg deadlift that has been up way too late thinking about how to spice up its life, and you will understand this combination exercise. First, start in upright position with arms to the side. Bend at the hip, lifting your left leg back straight behind your right leg. As you bend forward, balance yourself on your planted right leg and reach down to touch the floor (This is where it is very similar to the one leg deadlift or golfer pick up). This can be done with a straight leg or a slightly bent one. Once you touch the ground with both hands whilst balanced on one leg, tilt back up to a standing position using your hamstrings, glutes and core to pick you up. On your way back to an erect position, swing your left leg up and kick it out in front of you karate style (this will activate your core in another manner and give you an extra power blast). After the big kick, lower the left leg and come back to standing position. You can alternate legs as you perform this, or stick to one leg at a time. I like to time myself using an exercise like this. Perform 5 rounds of hammy crushers at 45 seconds each. In between rounds, perform 15 seconds worth of sit ups as an active rest. This will really get that midsection working.
Check the Hammy Crusher Out here: http://youtu.be/-VXZVypKUmc
3) Get Ups
There are two exercises, in my own opinion, that are the best for overall fitness. One is the burpee. Any variation of a burpee will add wonders to your fitness level. The second is the Turkish get up. I have combined these two into something that my clients hate to love. I call it the Get up. It is simple. From standing position, sit down on your bottom. Roll back onto your shoulders, lifting your lower back off the ground and into a reverse sit up. Thrust yourself back forward, and using your elbows and forearms as push off points, propel yourself into standing position. Then lower yourself back down and do it again. Try this: Perform 60 seconds of get ups followed by 30 seconds of mountain climbers. Take a 60 second rest, the. Do it again five more times.
Check Out the Get Up now at: http://youtu.be/tcIYHO3Heyo
4) The Grasshopper
I personally love this one. It seems ridiculous, but when you are done with it, you are left breathing like you ran a mile and feel like you just did 100 crunches. Except that it took you only 2 to 3 minutes to complete instead of 8 to 10 minutes. Start in high plank. Balance on your right leg and two hands and kick your left leg diagonally under your body towards your right hand. Straighten the leg, rotate the hip slightly and touch your left ankle to your right wrist. Keep shoulders parallel with the ground. Retract the left leg into original starting high plank position. Next, bring the right leg to the left hand in the same fashion. For beginners, just bring the bent leg in, touching your left knee to your right elbow and visa versa. Try this: Alternate legs for 45 seconds with 15 seconds rest for five rounds. Your cardio will be tested, but your core will be invested. This will make those obliques work!
Check Out the Grasshopper here: http://youtu.be/UXXVS7WqUJs
5) Eat clean!
So this last one is simple. Eat quality food that fuels your body correctly. Lay off the simple carbs and the trans fats. Load up on the lean proteins, complex carbs like veggies and low-glycemic fruits and good fats. Remember that eating your way to the body you want is more than half the battle. Try eating 5 to 6 small meals per day instead of the 2 to 3 large meals most peeps eat. Incorporate protein in each meal, along with good carbs like deep green veggies and quinoa. Eating as clean as can be combined with a solid workout schedule will bring you closer to looking like Adonis, feeling strong like Hercules and bring a smile to Dr. Oz's face.