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Ab Strength for Squats

Hi CT,

My goal is to squat 315 and deadlift 405 beltless weighing at 145-155.

I think a weakness is going to be upper back strength but in particular abdominal strength to support the load. My abs are very thin. Do you have any advice on what I could do to gain strength in these areas to support these goals? I dont think leg raises or planks will cut it.

Any advice really appreciated!

My current maxes are about what you’re trying to achieve (I’m 5’7", 5% BF, & 156lb). I like ab wheel rollouts & Pallof Presses the most, which seem to have helped me reach those figures. There are others, which I’m sure CT will mention, but for me those are great. Plkus they allow easy progression and are also easy to change (rollouts from knees, from knees on a platform, from feet, Pallof Presses standing or Kneeling etc etc).

thanks, i am not too strong at ab wheel roll outs so i was thinking of this. i can do them from the knees but not many. what is your ab wheel strength like, would be good to have a target.

[quote]vegeta99 wrote:
thanks, i am not too strong at ab wheel roll outs so i was thinking of this. i can do them from the knees but not many. what is your ab wheel strength like, would be good to have a target. [/quote]
about 10 from standing for 3 sets with standard technique.

BUT, and this imo is really important, the way to do ab wheel rollouts properly is to squeeze your glutes HARD the entire time. This will cause a very slight (but not dangerous) rounding of the back, but the abs get hit hard. Bret Contreras and CT have spoken about this technique tip. And in doing this I use the kneeling position as it is very hard to do from standing… plus I honestly feel if you do it correctly and controlled 6-8 reps for say 3 sets is about all you’ll need.

Ben Bruno’s 2 articles (1 from today!) are great: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/not_your_average_bs_core_training & http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/not_your_average_bs_core_training_1

I use the sliders a lot (buy large furniture sliders) and the bodysaw is a nasty one. Anti-extension like wheel rollouts

Might help to understand where you came from, that is, what were your lift PRs recently, what are they now. The sensible progression in the two lifts with solid form and sufficient volume will take care of the adaptations you want. Also, if 1RM’s are your goal, it’d help to train in the lower rep ranges. Ride a low rep cycle for all it’s worth until you cease to be able to increase loads.

Take advantage of other things to build your upright stabilization strength like doing standing presses instead of seated/back supported. Do barbell rows instead of chest supported machine rows. Add heavy carries to the end of your day. You can even do heavy overhead DB carries. Are you doing any explosive lift? Heavy high pull, kettle bell swing or dumbbell swing.
Run us down the details of what you are doing now.

Here’s my take on it. YES abs strength is very important in keeping a porper lifting posture under load. However people think that this can be solved by doing trunk flexion movements (crunches, weighed crunches, cable crunches, leg raises, swiss ball crunches, etc.)… this is not the case…you need the “bracing” action to be effective, not the trunk flexion one. Why? Because when doing moves such as the squat, deadlift and the likes you must keep the lower back arched, you can’t do that if you flex the trunk!!!

So over-training the trunk flexion function might actually do more hard than good.

Ab rollouts, heavy overhead supports, plank progression, pallof press, woodchops are better movements for your needs. But the best might simply be to lift heavy without a belt (e.g. top half deadlifts beltless, top half squats beltless… as an assistance exercise, not a main one of course).