4 Exercises to Build an Iron Core

Build From Within

A six-pack turns heads, but unless you have strong deep-abdominal muscles (the ones close to the spine), you'll never develop your optimal midsection. Strengthen these main abdominal muscles—your transverse abdominis and the multifidus—with the following exercises. Perform the drawing-in maneuver with each move (focus on pulling in the portion of your abs below the navel) and you'll activate your transverse abdominis even more.

Plank

Lie facedown in a modified pushup position, with your forearms resting on the floor. Your elbows should be under your shoulders and bent 90 degrees. With your weight resting on your elbows and toes, tuck your chin so your body forms a straight line from your heels to your ears. Keep your shoulder blades back and down and your stomach tight. Hold the position for 10 seconds, rest for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat for a set of 10 repetitions.

 

Long-Lever Swiss-Ball Crunch

Lie on a Swiss ball so that your head, shoulders, and back are in contact with the ball. Straighten your arms above your head until they're perpendicular to the floor. Lift your shoulder blades off the ball and reach straight up toward the ceiling with your hands. Pause for a count of two, then slowly lower yourself. Do three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Lie on a Swiss ball so that your head, shoulders, and back are in contact with the ball. Straighten your arms above your head until they're perpendicular to the floor. Lift your shoulder blades off the ball and reach straight up toward the ceiling with your hands. Pause for a count of two, then slowly lower yourself. Do three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

 

Cable Lift

Attach a rope or handle to a low-pulley cable, grasp the handle with both hands, and stand with your right side toward the weight stack. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower yourself into a partial squat. Keeping your feet pointed forward and your arms straight, stand up as you rotate your shoulders to the left till your hands reach about nose level. Pause, then slowly return to the squat position. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.

 

Medicine-Ball Rotation Pass

Stand with your right side toward a wall or a workout partner about 10 feet away from you. Hold a light medicine ball in front of your chest. Rotate your shoulders to the right as you toss the ball to your partner or against the wall. Pivot your left foot to the right, but keep your right foot pointed forward. Do three sets of 10 in each direction.

 

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