The most effective core exercises for body building might not be what you would expect. However before we get into the key body building exercises for your abs and core, why is building strong core muscles so important to begin with?
Having a strong core is extremely important when it comes to body building and for multiple reasons.
Injury prevention-The core is the most important stabilizer muscle on your body. Every movement from your upper body and lower body is made possible by your midsection. Every twist, turn, pull, and push is generated from your core.
Having a strong core means that you have the endurance to stabilize your upper and lower parts of your body. By sitting in a chair hunched over all day, you are not engaging your core muscles in the slightest. As a result when you go out to do something physical you have a much higher chance of getting injured.
A real life example would be in golf. Golf is not a very physically demanding sport and it certainly is not as a challenge on the body as body building is. However, people get back injuries all the time from golfing and the key reason is that they cant engage their core muscles enough because their core muscles simply aren’t strong enough.
Now this is golf… its not very hard on your body. Imagine what can happen if you refuse to workout your core muscles at the gym.
To be fair, most body building exercises to engage your core to some extent which means you are still working the muscles indirectly. However as the prim stabilizer muscle of your body it is important to make time for your core to ensure that you will continue to build overall body strength with minimal risk of injury.
Improved posture- The core muscles are responsible for keeping your body aligned and upright. That being said, it is essential to maintain strong core muscles to ensure good posture.
You might notice guys walking around the that might look big in size but are always hunched. Much of the time this slouching is due to the lack of attention to core exercises in their workouts.
In turn, keeping good posture is another reason why having a strong core prevents injury. Having a strong core means you can sit or stand upright for hours on end and not experience back pain of any sort. When people with weak core muscles try to stand straight for long periods of time, eventually their backs begin to give out or they start to feel pain in their lower backs as a result.
The glamor muscles- Arguably the most important reason body builders are interested in core muscles is that they are the glamor muscles. A chiseled six pack is one of the most key features on a body that will turn heads.
However don’t be mistaken. The term core referes to basically all the muscles in your midsection, and your abs are just one part of the equation. It is important to build a foundation of deep sturdy muscle around your core however once you achieve this foundation, the six pack abs will begin to show.
Being able to have sculpted abs is typically a byproduct of a strong core.
The best body building core exercises
Listed below are the most effective body building exercises you can implement to get a powerful core. Keep in mind that you should not necessarily implement them all at once. Rather you should keep reading to the choice workout section where core exercises are paired up by day so that you don’t make the mistake of working solely the same parts of your core in one workout.
For the upper abdominals
The basic crunch- Crunches are great in moderation for engaging your upper abs. Although the focus of the exercise is the upper abs, this exercise is great for engaging your abs entirely. However most people fail to do crunches correctly.
Begin by lying flat down on your back. With your hands lightly touching the side of your head, lift your torso up off the ground. To get the most benefit, do not force your body up by pulling your head up with your hands but instead focus on using your core to bring yourself up.
In addition, a common mistake most people make is that they curl their body forward so that they end the exercise with their head pointed at their feet. It is important to keep your head facing the ceiling. One trick that can help is to focus on a point directly above your and to keep your eyes aligned with that point as you move your torso up.
Cable crunch- Cable crunches are great exercises for your upper abs since you can adjust the difficulty and strain you put on your abs. First, head over to the cable machine and grab the cable ropes with both hands. Put your head between the you hands and the cables ropes while facing downward. With light knees and a straight back at the start proceed to pull your head and the cable ropes down to the direction of the floor directly below you. The trick here is also to focus on engaging your core. Focus on using your core to bring your torso down and not just thrusting your head down.
V crunch- The V crunch is a bit more difficult then the plain crunch but it also can be extremely effective. While laying down on your back with your hands by your sides, proceed to raise your legs and your torso up simultaneously while balancing on your butt. Your objective is to touch your toes with your fingers.
To get the most out of this exercise, be sure that you keep your legs and torso as straight as possible. The goal of the exercise is to ultimately create the v shape with your body. For a little added difficulty you can squeeze and hold at the top position before coming back down.
Straight leg raises- Straight leg raises are key if you are trying to get rid of that stubborn bit of belly fat built up at the lower part of your core. Start by lying flat down on your back with your hands under your butt (or to the sides if you are up for a challenge). Using your core, lift your feet off the ground while keeping your butt still on the grounds.
To get the most out of this exercise, focus on keeping your legs as straight as you can. Once they make a perpendicular angle with the floor you can let them fall back down in a controlled manor.
Scissor/flutter kicks- For scissor or flutter kicks lie down on your back like you would before doing straight leg raises. For scissor kicks, flex your core and lift your feet off of the ground only a few inches. Begin to horizontally criss cross your legs alternating the one on top every time.
Flutter kicks are similar to do flutter kicks, start by simply kicking your legs at a fast rate of speed a few inches above the ground. Be sure to keep your legs as straight as possible and kick from the hips.
Mountain climbers- this exercise is performed exactly how it sounds. Begin in the pushup position and drive one leg forward as if you were trying to knee your stomach. Bring the leg back to the original position in pushup form. Do the same for the other leg and then alternate legs a fast rate of speed
Keep in mind that most exercises that target your obliques also focus on the abs as well
Side crunch- With the side crunch, keep one hand to your side and one hand behind your back. Crunch like you usually except as you crunch up twist your body and aim your elbow to knee on the opposite side of your body. This will target the chosen side of the oblique. Switch sides once you have done the desired number of reps.
Side jack knife- Lay on your side and prop your head up with your hand while you keep the arm touching the floor extended out. Keep the other arm propped on your head. Simultaneously lift your free leg up and crunch to the side. To get the most out of this exercise keep both your leg straight as possible and really focus on squeezing at the top position of the exercise.
Russian twist- start in the upright crunch position. In your hands hold either a medicine ball or a dumbbell of your preferred weight. Tilt your body back so that its at about a 45 degree angle to the ground and proceed to move the weight in an alternating fashion to each side of your knees. For even more of a challenge you might even want to consider putting your feet up into the air and holding them there while you proceed to do the exercise. To get the most out of the exercise you must keep your core tight at all times.
Side planks- side planks are great for building your lower backs strength and endurance. Prop yourself on your side with your elbow and lift your hip off from the ground. Hold the position for as long as you can.
Back extensions- place your body onto the back extension station while facing the ground. Hook your legs to the anchors. Place your arms across your chest of behind your head and slowly allow your torso to fall forward. While squeezing your glutes raise your torso to the upright position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
To implement these exercises, it is recommended that you do at least one of each exercise from the list every day. Of course it is ok to take off days to allow your body to rest howerver.
When using these exercises it is important to note that you should mix up the exercises every day so that your body is in a constant state of adaptation and growth. Try to do a different exercise for your upper abs, lower abs, obliques and lower back every day.