T Nation

Directly Training Core: Should I? How?


#1

Well, whats what’s the verdict?

An end goal of size and strength in mind. I have never really done direct core work at all and focused entirely on heavy compounds, couldn’t stand all the skinny guys doing sit ups every day thinking its gonna make them ripped.

However I’m starting to wonder. I’m about 200 pounds 6’3 or so and have never even had ‘skinny guy abs’. Unless I’m really posed and flex my core is aesthetically disappointing.

What to do? I’ve put on about 50 pounds in the last 2 and a half years so I suppose I cant expect some crazy abs (obviously seen some fat gains bu t its better then being really tiny).

Do I start crunching and all that boring shit?
What do big mother f*uckers think


#2

Heavy rope crunch
Ab roll outs
Hanging leg raises
Wood chops

Treat your them like any other muscle, not every skinny guy has impressive abs, they have to be built.


#3

@kd13

i’m chiming in because i have a question closely related to op’s.

i believe one of the shortcomings of my physique, apparence-wise, is the fact that my waist doesn’t look tight or small at all.

while i tried to ignore this for a while, i was taking a look at my physique in the mirror and i realized how protruding my mid-section looks when relaxed:

and while flexed it doesn’t look as bad, you can still see it’s not very aesthetic at all

i’m wondering if i might be doing something wrong diet-wise or, as the topic is about, training-wise.

is there any way to make this better with core training? i’ve heard that ab vacuums might be the solution. is that bogus or do they actually work?

also i’m still not sure my diet is headed in the right direction. looking at these pics, would you still consider me “not fat,” as you stated in my other topic? i’ve come to the point of thinking that i might be tracking calories in a wrong way and that i should double-check myfitnesspal’s entries for the foods i consume.

thoughts?


#4

20180129_213401

A quick question for you, does this look like a tight waist? impressive abs? V shape physique?

This is me a while back, lacking the one thing needed for the proportions you desire. Muscle mass!

It’s the same as what I told you in the other thread, you need to put the time in and build some muscle to achieve what your after, you have a bit of fat on your waist but that is not what is stopping you looking like a physique guy, it’s the lack of muscle. Yes you could loose all the fat you have and look like I did in the pic above.

I will also add that posing, posture and angles all help to give the illusion of a tighter waist and better abs.


#5

Not really. Although I will go ahead and say that I probably have more muscle mass than you had in that pic. How much did you weigh at the time?

I’ll probably upset you because it looks like I’m about to say the same thing for the fourth time but I probably never managed to express that I meant well—I believe (although I might be wrong) that for “looking good at the beach,” without having to necessarily impress people specifically into bodybuilding, up until you have lots of muscle mass there is a point, a ratio between muscle and fat, an equilibrium which allows you to look your best for your current development. As in losing some fat, enough to look more defined and not as soft, but not enough to actually lose size visibly and have your performance go down. Do you think that’s achievable, even short term, and also desirable? I’m not looking to get to 8% bf

Here i believe my “problem” might be composed of 2 things. First obviously we have the layer of fat covering my abs. Then I believe that regardless of the fat, my midsectiom is sticking out a little too much. Like those with a bear pregnant looking gut: they aren’t necessarily very fat, but their gut is protruding for some reason. I believe it might have to do with the fact that I have some anterior pelvic tilt, in part. Any way to attack that with training? What’s your experience with vacuums like?


#6

Yep.
The myth that you don’t need to directly train the core is, well, just that - a myth.
You might get away without it in the beginning, but sooner or later it will catch up to you.
Some people might have aesthetic and powerful midsections without direct core training, but chances are it’s not you (or me, for sure).

For strength, the most important factor is probably bracing. You want your core to be tight and able to stand a lot of pressure. In turn, this will make all your lifts (all of them, bar none) more stable, which will help you lifting heavier stuff or doing more reps and get stronger (while possibly packing mass, too).
One of the forum users has a great video about bracing and a Youtube channel with a ton of free and useful infos:

For aesthetics, as you noticed, “skinny abs” are not pleasant. It’s the same for every muscle actually, it just happens to be more noticeable for abs. When it comes to aesthetics it’s not an “and/or” scenario, you want BOTH of these factors to be true:
-the muscle has to be developed enough to have a good shape and fullness;
-your bodyfat % has to be low enough to actually show that good shaped and full muscle;

The first one depends on your training, the point of skinny guys is that they have a low enough bodyfat % to show the abs, but the muscles are not trained and not formed.
The second factor relies heavily on your diet, you could have the strongest core in the world but your abs won’t be visible if bodyfat is not in check. You can see this in powerlifting / strongman / weightlifting behemots, they surely have strong abs but their midsection is soft because they’re covered by body fat.
You want both of these in check but we’ve already noticed that if some respectable strength is in your goal, you’d need to train the core anyway, so under that aspect you’re killing two birds with one stone. Training your core will improve your performance, shape the muscle and lay the foundation that you’ll be able to show off when you’ll lower your bodyfat % with your diet.

I know jack shit about dieting, there’s a lot of competent people in here, hopefully they’ll chime in.
About what exercises to do for core training, some have already been mentioned.
Leg raises are master race, if done properly they just have too many additional benefits to ignore them. I don’t scoff at traditional crunches either to be honest, just do them properly, don’t try to throw your face into your nutsack.
Loaded carries are great too. Overhead side bends, even with an empty bar, are tougher and better than what it seems.
And brace, especially during big compunds, it does make a difference. You might get sore abs just by starting with it if you don’t do it already. I happened to feel sore abs while doing standing barbell curls at the end of workouts by bracing.

Treat them like any other body part really, make core training a staple in your routine once or twice a week, it’s definitely a good start. Don’t overdo it, it’s as pointless as training arms six days a week for 200 sets of 10, doesn’t work that way. CT has a few articles about abs blitz where he programs them to be worked more times a week (4-6) for a short period, you might want to look them up after you got used to core training.


#7

If you think you can look the way you want to look by loosing a little body fat then go for it. I’ve never doubted that you could spend a month or two to loose a little fat and look a little better, I just think your time could be better spent in the grand scheme of things. But as always with this kind of stuff it’s all down to what makes you happy, so if you think dropping some weight will do the job then go for it.

The sticking out stomach is all very normal, it’s just people don’t photograph it much as it’s not showing there physique at the best. It’s probably food in your stomach, a little bit of poor posture, maybe a bit of bloating from certain foods, but that’s all very normal. One thing that can help is learning to suck in and contract your midsection to display your abs, then do this as often as you can throughout the day. Now this may help by tightening up the muscles or it could just help because it becomes habit to hold your posture better. If you do clean up your diet or drop the cals then the full of food and bloat problem will also be better, but please it’s normal, posed Instagram pictures have sold you a false image of normal.


#8

These wil build up your abs and massively boost your performance on the big lifts over time…

Now that youve bulked and are lifting heavy, from an aesthetics point of view you just need reeealy low bodyfat/highly conditioned to have great abs.


#9

Umm do you have an actual goal or is it… everything? All the things?

Maybe you have a priority right now? Like get big and strong first and then cut later to get fuckboi abs?


#10

Definitely, it’s all part of having good posture. Throughout the entire day I hold my chin high, walk purposefully and keep my gut in check. Do it long enough and it becomes 2nd nature.


#11

If you have the time and can be bothered than do some direct core work specific to your goals.

I’ve neglected that stuff since forever like my bodybuilding days and now that I’m Powerlifting I still do lol. I don’t think I’ve missed much (unless direct core work is the secret to a bigger bench *gasp)


#12

Crazy abs requires two things.

Low bodyfat

And big abdominal muscles.

Two distinct requirements, two distinct things to accomplish. Build abdominal musculature with direct (GASP) abdominal work, like any other muscle, and lower your bodyfat so you can see said muscles.


#13

Much appreciate the the relpys everyone! Geuss to day I hit some abs affter after everything else!