Today I’d like to talk about the best core exercise that simply takes 1 minute to do yet, if done before your workouts and consistently over time, can potentially help you accelerate your results.
Not to mention that it will help to lower your risk of damage. And perhaps even alleviate some of the back pain you’re experiencing. Isn’t it a little too wonderful to be true? Here’s the truth. The phrase “best core workout” does exist. And that’s exactly what I’m going to discuss in today’s article. Most people assume they are training this muscle group appropriately. They aren’t, though. As a result, this muscle becomes weaker with time. This leads to a plethora of problems both inside and outside of the gym.
Want to avoid these problems, which will only stymie your progress at the gym? Of course, you do. And you’ll be able to do so with the program I’ve created. The Unorthodox Training membership program has been specifically designed to aid you in properly training each muscle group. You will not only learn about health and fitness for your goals but also learn about avoiding harm or injuries as well, but you will also grow as swiftly as possible in this method.
Core Muscle Anatomy
A common misconception is that your core is your abs, and that is untrue. Your core is made up by more than just the abdominal muscles as you can see in the core muscle anatomy image provided above.
The Transversus Abdominis Is a Frequently Ignored Muscle
After all, it is one of the most important muscles in our core. The transversus abdominis is the name for this muscle. This muscle is placed behind the rectus abdominis, also known as the “abs.” It also wraps horizontally over your lower abdomen to assist stabilize your spine. Consider it like a weight belt. And you use (or “should use”) this muscle in concert with your other core muscles whenever you move your arms or legs, as well as when you lift weights at the gym.
Particularly in squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and overhead presses. The more powerful this muscle is, the more stable you will be. And the more energy and strength you can put into motions that need a lot of stability, the better. As a result, you may be able to speed up your progress.
What Causes the Transversus Abdominis to Be So Weak?
The problem is that this muscle is extremely weak in many people. It is also one of the most common causes of strength plateaus in large lifts as well as back pain. I mean, I had been ignoring this muscle unconsciously for a long time. And it wasn’t until I focused on growing this muscle that I was able to break through the strength and physical growth plateaus I had been encountering for quite some time.
Why is this muscle so prone to weakness? It’s because standard “abs” exercises like crunches and bicycle kicks are ineffective for this muscle. In truth, studies show that these activities have minimal effect on strengthening this muscle. This is due to the fact that isometric workouts, which aim to enhance both muscular endurance and coordination, are the most effective technique to train this muscle.
But how does this look in practice? And what exactly is this activity you’ve been looking forward to learning about?
The Best Core Exercise Is the Dead Bug (Also Known as the Dying Cockroach).
It’s referred to as the “dead bug.” This core exercise has been used in a number of studies to improve core stability. Why? It appears to be the most effective at activating the transversus abdominus and other core muscles.
This is referred to as an “anti-extension” exercise. To prevent your lower back from arching as you extend your arms and legs, brace your core and deep abdominal muscles here. Doesn’t it seem simple enough? Many people, however, struggle to perform this essential activity correctly. And this is why many people are unable to:
Move their hips without arching their lower back OR lift their arms above their heads without arching their lower back…
This can threaten your spine’s posture. As a result, when you finish your exercises, inefficiencies are produced. The dead bug helps to resolve these issues by teaching you how to move your limbs without compensating at your spine.
Some of you may have seen or attempted this workout previously. But I assure you, you didn’t do it correctly. And, more importantly, in a way that strengthens the transversus abdominis as much as feasible.
Because the fundamental goal of this workout is more than just stretching the arms and legs. Instead, it is to brace and stabilize the core while moving isometrically at the extremities. The one I’m exhibiting here, on the other hand, is a more sophisticated advancement that, when done right, will be too difficult for the vast majority of you.
How to Perform a Beginner Dead Bug Version of the Dead Bug Exercise
To begin, I’d like you to complete the following. Simply lie on your back with your knees bent. Take a deep breath into your abdomen, followed by another deep breath out. During a near-maximal exhale, draw your belly button into your spine to stabilize your core and flatten your lower back into the ground.
You should prepare yourself as if a ball is about to land on your stomach. This should provide you with a firm sensation throughout your core and lower back. Feel your stomach and sides to see if there is any tightness. What happens if you don’t properly brace? Instead, you’ll simply engage your rectus abdominis, or “six pack,” which is exactly what we don’t want.
When you’ve mastered this, continue to breathe while keeping your core braced. Repeat with your arms straight up and legs bent to 90 degrees. At this point, your lower back should be flat against the ground. And you should still brace yourself as if the ball were about to land on your stomach. At this point, you should be able to feel your core straining hard to maintain that position.
I’ll be absolutely honest with you. Can you hold this position for at least 60 seconds while bracing your core and breathing through it? How can you expect to keep this up for a complete set of Squats, Deadlifts, or Overhead Presses… Where you’re now placing weight on your body and putting a lot more strain on your core stability than we are with this exercise? You’re not! This is why a lack of this is such a common cause of plateaus and accidents.
So, begin here, nail this for at least 60 seconds, and then gradually improve from there.
How to Move the Dead Bug Experiment Forward
Begin by bracing properly once more and then raising one arm at a time, as illustrated.
From here, you can work your way up to one leg at a time.
You can then go to the full dead-bug from here. The opposite arms and legs are stretched at the same time in this position.
From here, you can advance to something like hollow body holds. And the same holds true for hollow body rocks.
However, you must keep the following points in mind during all of these guys: your belly button drawn in and your lower back flat.
360-degree core bracing at all times
Not to mention keeping proper breathing throughout.
You might also try the action while wearing a resistance band around your lower back. This keeps your back flat against the ground. Otherwise, the resistance band will untie itself.
Essentially, you want to complete whatever sequence you choose in such a way that if someone put a ball over your head, your core would be ready and braced for the ball to hit at any time during your reps. This is not a simple task. I’m literally trembling in this room from exhaustion from just carrying out this basic deed.
How to Incorporate the Dead Bug Exercise Into Your Day-to-Day Routine
When and how should this be applied? What I would recommend is that you start with a progression that best suits your current level of core strength and that you can execute for about a minute without entirely tiring yourself.
This should be done as part of your warm-up routine before starting your workout. This is especially true if the workout involves core-strengthening exercises. Your core stability and endurance will gradually improve as a result of this. It will also aid in the improvement of your proprioception and core activation just prior to your workout. This enables you to use your core as it should be in your workouts.
As a result, your body will gradually build the habit of firing correctly and using your core in your actions. This translates to more strength and more reps, particularly for exercises that need a lot of core stability, such as the pull-up, push-up, overhead press, squat, and deadlift.
If your core is particularly weak, I’d even recommend completing this exercise in between sets of these movements.
This is merely to get your core moving and to reinforce that neurological firing pattern while you move. In this case, though, you will want to avoid becoming fatigued. As a result, your movements will almost certainly be lighter. Focusing on this, on the other hand, can help you develop considerably better core stability during your activities. As a result, long-term gains will be bigger.
Takeaway: The Best Core Exercise to Perform
But I hope you can see how these muscles, which we often neglect, can hinder our progress and put us at risk of harm. As a result, it is vital that you do not overlook them in your training.
The Best Core Workout For Thinner, Stronger Abs (YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!)
Do you understand the distinction between abs and core training? Then you should check out this article. I’ll go over the best core workout for bigger, stronger abs in this article.
Isn’t the finest abs workout also the best core workout? To be sure, most people use the terms ‘abs’ and ‘core’ interchangeably. And you’re under the impression that working out your abs also works out your core… right? But here’s the truth. That is not the case at all. And it is this lack of awareness that causes concern. Why? Because, even if they regularly exercise their abs, their cores remain rather weak and unstable. Particularly if they spend a significant amount of time sitting throughout the day. And I mean, yes, you can do 100 crunches in a row, and you could even have a lovely six-pack. However, this does not imply that your core is strong. It also does not imply that it will support and assist you in your regular activities and exercises.
This can cause a slew of issues. For example, lower back discomfort, as well as a variety of additional problems in the future. This was something I witnessed firsthand. For years, I assumed that because I worked out my abs on a daily basis, I had my “core” covered. Not to mention the heavy lifting in the gym.
But I had no idea I wasn’t genuinely working on my core. In addition, I wasn’t utilizing my core as much as I should have in my heavy lifts. Unfortunately, all of these things finally caught up with me. As a result of my core being weakened and less solid over time, I encountered a slew of plateaus and imbalances.
Everything else is built on the foundation of your core.
Recognize that your core is the foundation for everything else. If your core is weak, your ability to gain strength on your exercises and to build the muscles surrounding each of your joints will suffer. As an added bonus, it will also bring aesthetic benefits. Regular core exercise has been demonstrated in studies to enhance the thickness of the deep abdominal muscles. That is, they may aid in pushing your abs deeper into your stomach. As a result, they become a little more noticeable.
Crossfitters and powerlifters are prime examples. As you may be aware, their actions necessitate a huge amount of core strength and stability. As a result, their abs typically protrude. Even when they have a higher body fat percentage.
I hope I’ve persuaded you to pay more attention to your core. How exactly do we go about training it now? That’s exactly what I’ll describe in this post, along with the finest full-body core workout you can perform right away for a stronger AND more attractive stomach.
How to Strengthen the Core Muscles
Before we begin the core workout, we must first cover the muscles that comprise the core. And the correct method for training them.
As a result, the term “core” refers to the area of your body between your diaphragm and your pelvic floor. This means that all of the muscles that support this region and stabilize the spine are considered to be part of your core. And, when it comes to core training, it’s crucial to remember that each core muscle has a specific purpose. However, unlike a conventional bodybuilding routine, your goal should not be to train each of these individual muscles separately. Why? There are two reasons for this:
According to research, you cannot train these individual core muscles in isolation.
Because the core muscles act together synergistically, they should be trained in this manner.
As a result, a much better method would be to use core exercises that target the core in every aspect that your core could be challenged in a lift, sport, or just your regular life.
And workouts for a weak core can be divided into four categories:
Anterior core stability exercises entail training the body to prevent arching the lower back excessively (extension)
Posterior core stability exercises – We teach the body to resist rounding the lower back excessively (flexion)
Lateral core stability exercises teach the body to avoid bending to one side.
Rotary core stability exercises entail training the body to resist excessive lumbar spine rotation.
As a result, we’ll use these four categories to identify the four movement patterns we’ll want to target with our core workout. And with that, we’re ready to get started on the workout.
Exercise 1: Abdominal Bracing is the best core workout for abs (Activating The Core)
The first exercise we’ll conduct here will be a “activation” activity. It will assist you in learning how to contract all of your core muscles at the same time. Because of the amount of time we spend sitting in a relaxed condition, our bodies tend to forget how to do this.
So you want to lie on your back with your knees bent. Then, from here, take a deep breath into your belly, followed by a deep breath out. Then, as you near maximum exhalation, brace your core as if you were about to be punched in the gut. As a result, your lower back should become flat on the ground. And, if you feel across your midsection, sides, and lower back, you should feel firmness in all of these regions. While holding this contraction, keep breathing normally.
This is known as abdominal bracing. Dr. Stuart McGill, a recognized expert in spine mechanics, invented this word initially. He discovered that abdominal bracing can co-activate all layers of your core muscles at the same time. During your lifts, your core should contract and operate in this manner. And not just in your daily life, but this is what gives your spine the core stability and stiffness it requires.
So, in the future, keep abdominal bracing in mind. Apply that practice to each of the exercises we’ll go over. And ultimately, it will just happen on an unconscious level.
If just doing this for a minute or two exhausts you, what else can you do? That’s a solid indication that your core muscles are probably fairly weak.
Reverse Crunches are the second exercise (Anterior Core Stability)
The next exercise, reverse crunches, has been addressed in previous articles (as in my lower abs article). It does an excellent job of testing our anterior core stability.
What you want to do here is lie on a bench or on the ground with your legs bent. Over your head, your arms should be gripping onto something. Apply the abdominal bracing practice we went over before to posteriorly tilt your pelvis and flatten your lower back. Lift your knees to 90 degrees, then curl your pelvis up towards your belly button. And then gradually come back down. Maintaining a flat lower back throughout each rep is important.
To advance, slow down the reps and/or begin loading it by placing a ball between your knees. Squeezing a foam roller behind your legs is another option. This keeps the hip flexors from taking over the movement. As a result, the core musculature is better activated.
You should feel a significant tension in your deep abdominal muscles as you complete them.
3rd Exercise: Bird Dog (Posterior Core Stability)
Following that, we’ll test our posterior core stability with one of the best core exercises, the Bird Dog, which is also highly recommended by Dr. Stuart McGill.
We’ll be on all fours with your back neutral for them. Brace your core. Then simply kick one of your legs back while elevating the opposing arm until they are both straight. Hold for a few seconds here. Then, return to your starting position and repeat on the other side. Avoid unnecessarily arching your back as you do so. If you find it difficult to accomplish this while maintaining your spine neutral, you can begin by performing one arm and leg at a time.
The aim here is to simply maintain that core bracing while challenging it by moving your arms and legs.
Suitcase Carriers (Exercise 4) (Lateral Core Stability)
The suitcase carries will next be used to test our lateral core stability. This is where you hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in one hand and take steps while keeping your torso upright and shoulders level. You want to appear to be walking without any weight on one side.
According to Dr. Stuart Mcgill’s studies, asymmetric weight helps push the deep lateral muscle in a manner that huge exercises like the squat cannot. Nonetheless, it is necessary for improving core strength and stability.
As you walk with the weight, you should feel the lateral core muscles on your opposing side engaging.
Palloff Press is the fifth exercise (Rotary Core Stability)
Finally, we’ll use a palloff press to improve our rotational core stability. We’ll wrap a band around a fixture and take a few steps out to the side here. Take an athletic stance, with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Check that your core is braced. Then, begin with your hands at your chest and just extend your arms forward and back while avoiding the urge to twist inwards.
You can also do this with a cable pulley if necessary. This workout puts your body’s capacity to resist a twisting motion to the test. This is an important component that many people’s training routines lack.
You should feel your lateral core muscles and obliques fighting to resist that inward rotation as you execute them.
Action Plan for the Best Core Workout for Strength
To summarize the article, below is a breakdown of the greatest core training routine:
Abdominal Bracing (Exercise 1) (1-3 sets of 60 second holds)
Reverse Crunches (2-3 sets of 10-15 reps)
Exercise 3: Bird Dog (2-3 sets of 5 reps each side)
Suitcase Carriers (Exercise 4) (2-3 sets of 30s carries each side)
Palloff Press is the fifth exercise (2-3 sets of 5-10 reps each side)