Core Training: Heavy/Light? How Many Sets?

Ok so i want to have a stronger core, lets take abs as one of the points i am working on.

What i dont understand is, say i do 5 sets of planks or variations and try to build the sets over time.
Now why do a lot of people do 15 min+ ab workouts i mean in comparison they must be doing like 15 sets of abs. Is more always better?

I approached abs like other lifts so, i did 3-5 sets, now i could understand that the exercises are much lighter and more endurance based compared to my deadlifts and that therefore i could do more sets.

But say i build up to 15 sets of some ab workout, i always fear that in order to even keep that level of strength/ endurance in my abs i will have to at least do those 15 sets every fucking time i train.

Therefore isnt it best to do some very heavy ab exercise for the normal 3-5 sets?

I am kind of doubting here, please tell me where i am wrong in my thinking out loud and apologies for the incoherent rant, but i am looking for a basic proven ab strength progression like 5/31, starting strength etc are for the big 3, thanks.

Ok… here’s where you are wrong…

You’re looking for a program for one muscle group. Why not just do a program THAT INCLUDES the abs.

A lot of people do a lot of stupid things.

Don’t try to do what a lot of people do; try to do what a lot of SUCCESSFUL people do.


Because every lifting program already hits the abs and i need acessory work on it.

Yes, thats clear, i am trying to find out what succesfull people do :slight_smile:

You already mentioned 5/3/1. Do that. It is a great start.


Personal preference here. For looks I do weighted crunches. I’ll anchor my feet and hold a dumbbell or find a crunch machine. I’ll do 2-3 sets of 10-15 depending on the weight. I also do 10 bottom half/10 top half/10 full.

You’re right when you say train abs like other muscles. Train for hypertrophy. The rectus abdominis will grow and stick out more resulting in more definition and separation for a six pack.

For strength I do anti-extension exercises such as ab wheel or barbell rollouts. Same approach with weight, sets, abs reps. Train to do dragonflies and I promise you’ll be strong and have a six pack (body fat % permitting).

My best workouts had a spinal flexion movement, spinal stabilization movement (ab wheel or lying leg raise type movement), and something for the obliques. If the equipment/space was available I’d do a circuit 2-3 times through.

Stop doing planks.

Right now I do abs on lower body days. I do 50 total reps, one days it’s ab wheel rollouts and the other hanging leg raises/shins to bar. I’m running 531.

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When i do dragon flags my pelvis always pops on the way down, no idea what it is but it feels bad, might be a strength issue thats why ill keep doing my planks for activation before other exercises, but ill just start with the first progression and see how it goes,because i like the idea. Thanks also for the rest of your reply.

That was exactly what i wanted to do, the leg raises for 5 sets. But i think i need to start with something lighter because still having some activation problems and no perfect technique on the leg raises, will eventually try to get there though.

Start with just raising your knees up to the best of your ability. Slowly start moving your feet farther away from you when it start getting easier. Eventually you’ll be doing full leg raises, or even toes-to-bar. Just progress through the difficulties as you ingrain proper technique on the movement.
I like to keep the movement slow and controlled, I’ve seen others flopping around like a fish out of water…don’t be that guy.


Yeah don’t want to do hipflexor raises lol

[quote=“Respeezy, post:1, topic:225195”]
i want to have a stronger core[/quote]
I’d dial everything back and figure out what this means. Why do you want/need a stronger core and how will you determine when it’s gotten “stronger.” Are your abs giving out on the big lifts? Can’t stay upright with heavy overhead work? Having back pain that you’ve traced back to a weak core as opposed to other sources? Etc.

Also, I saw about a half-dozen references to “sets” of ab work but zero mentions of reps. One without the other means you’re missing context and can’t determine actual training volume. That’s a huge variable that will determine results.

Basically, I agree that was pretty much a rant and I can’t sort out an actual question. So I’d say just do this routine and you’d be on track.

The regressions in the article JMaier posted should help. “Feels bad” like it feels painful, or “feels” like it might lead to problems? Popping or clicking sounds usually aren’t a big deal as long as they’re just noise and zero pain comes along with the movement.

Good points by Mr Colucci above. I would add that OP (and others) seem to be using the terms abs and core as if they are synonyms, which they are not. Abs are but one component of the so-called ‘core muscles.’ This is not a semantics issue. If you’re training for aesthetics, you want to focus on ab-isolation work (specifically, targeting the rectus abdominus muscle), and that’s about it. OTOH, if your goal is improving functionality via increased core strength, training must target muscles other than the rectus.

tl;dr Ab training and core training, while related, are not the same thing.

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Thanks for the extended post, appreciate it.
I have lower back problems and activation problems with a lot of muscles. Basically i would like too fix the activation problem and after keep getting stronger without having to worry of my abs suddenly “deactivating” mid set while lifting or doing whatever exercise.

I try to stay polite when people give me advice to do their random routines but i mostly ignore it lol and the truth and also the reason i write so incoherently is that i to be totally honest dont expect much in terms of solutions since most people dont really read posts and just want to be the teacher and drop their 2 cents. So i usually just type my rants and hope for someone that recognizes certain points has had the same problems or is capable of giving interesting information, get me thinking or point me in a good direction. Which every now and than happens :smiley:

The popping doesnt hurt but feels really uncomfortable and it might be total nonsense but it feels like it happens because the movement is to heavy and i lose a bit of control over certain muscles, so it scares me a little.

Will def check your link, thanks / end rant2

Do you have better/stronger looking abs than EyeDentist?

Your above post is pretty stupid. If someone with incredible abs like EyeDentist starts “dropping his 2 cents” and trying to be teacher, me personally would bloody listen.
Not saying he came across trying to be teacher, but I would be asking him questions and encouraging him to be teacher!
but hey each to there own. Rant away.

@EyeDentist I’ve read info you have written about ab training before but not sure where I read it. If you want to drop your 2 cents, I would happily listen.


This is the dumbest thing I have ever read. You are intentionally being vague and incoherent because people come across as teachers?

If you were coherent and specific with your needs, you would get useful answers. Good luck getting anywhere with that mentality.

Why don’t you start over: What exactly are wanting?


Was totally not referring to anyone specific, dont know why you guys get so emotional.
I am simply conlcuding that over the years the times i have gotten usefull information from the forums have been quite small, since i have gotten usefull information i continue to make posts.

I have tried many times to make long well thaught out posts and got the same people not even reading it and just answering the same shit yeah just do starting strength i dont do it myself but blabla. So i nowadays just quickly type the chaos that i am thinking and i get the same answers and people that recognize certain things sometimes give me usefull replys.

Emotional, huh? Emotional because I am highlighting your ridiculous statement. haha Ya, ok man.

It’s extremely difficult to give you accurate information, if you do not ask a specific question. Have you gotten the answer you seek? If not, again: What exactly are wanting?

The thing is i am not looking for specific information, i can google that myself.
Like i said im hoping someone recognizes the combination or a combination of the things i am working on and gives me interesting feedback or pushes me in a direction, i am just looking for discussion basically. I understand it might come across weird or bad but so be it.