T Nation

Most Beneficial Ab/Core Workouts for PL?


The title really explains it all. I am a bad program hopper but went through a base cycle of Smolov for squat and Smolov Jr for bench and loved it. Now I have been on the Texas Method for about a little under two months and it finally feels like a program I can stick with. My question to the T-Nation community is what does everybody think are the best excerises to work your core/abs that directly relate to powerlifting. Most ab routines I know of work on definition of the abs but i wanna pack on some muscle around the core because i do feel my little beer belly is a hindarance

Height -6'1
Weight- 195 lbs

PR's (at the moment)
Bench - 240
Squat- 280
DL- 315

Tomorrow is my heavy day in the cycle so hopefull ill have some videos up for critque


Start training without a belt.

Deload your squats and deads a little.

Add in some front squats and front squat holds. Also some heavy partials or walk outs on back squats (and make sure to "hold" the weight at the end of standing up).

If you must do sit ups, do them off a decline or an edge and focus in the negative of the motion.

Wait awhile. If you are squatting and pulling with enough volume and weight, the core will develop.


I should add I really just like beltless training so I'm biased. But it is one good way to strengthen your core without doing a lot of extra exercises.


Just a question in regards to front squats: I notice that these hammer my lower back more than anything. I don't really notice very much stimulation in my abs. I'm trying to prevent my pelvis from dipping in the hole by keeping a tight lumbar arch and core... Am I missing something or do I just have poor execution?


Hey man,

my favourie ab exercises are gh sit ups with weight behind the head, even weightless these mess me up for days, but you really need to focus on curling your midsection and not just tightening at the hips.

Also, side bends are great, and my last one is supermans off the Gh raise, like a plank.

I feel those 3 more than cover all the bases.


Hey dude, sorry I didn't address this enough on your form video, but the pelvic rounding is causes by tight hamstrings. Loosen those bad boys up with dynamic moves and static stretching after training, and you'll see a great difference.


I cycle a ton of different "core" movements.

Front squat holds
Planks (BW for time, weighted for time)
Band Antitwists (Pallof press?)
Standing band crunches
Knee raises
Knee ins from TRX straps
Ab wheel roll outs

And I'm always looking to add more. I often superset a couple of these for a few sets each at the end of some sessions.


Props, man, thanks alot!


I like heavy partials, heavy front squat lockouts. Lots of planks and plank variations. Back raises, situps. Basically any gymnast ab workout is great for ab strength. Static holds and stuff. Ab wheel is good. Just make sure you're getting better (stronger) all the time and not doing 3x8-12 situps one a week. That's useless.

I usually switch off. One day I'll do low rep ab strength, and the next I'll do some higher rep stuff. Then I'll do a day of planks, maybe take a day off from direct training and just do bear crawls, then start over. When I was strength training exclusively I did strictly strength work for my abs, 15-30 second sets or 6-8 reps. Planks, L-sits, 6-inch-holds, upside down hanging situps, squat lockouts.


Thanks for the replies guys if anything I have a bunch of stuff to play around with over the next few weeks


i'd like to disagree on this (not trying to be a douchebag but i might sound like one). Most people tend to have too much anterior pelvic tilt to start with so stretching the hamstrings will only be counter productive. My advice would be to work on external rotation of the hips, if you can get your thighs out and externally rotated you will find you can keep a good lordotic arch in the bottom position.



also the occasional hanging leg raises to free up the lower back


Can't beat the ab wheel, check out this mutant:

Heavy chin ups will also wreck your abs


This. I recall reading something from Bret Contreras where he tested abdominal activity during a variety of exercises, and chin ups ranked very high on the list.


Aren't these essentially Roman Chair sit ups? I did some a couple of days ago and I'm still sore.


Front squat holds for time with very heavy weight.


My exact workout from the 3 days ago:

Snatch grip DLs with a belt for a 6rm, 50 SLDLs with 315, blast strap fallouts for 60 total reps, and pallof presses. I can't take a deep breath without severe and mind altering abdominal pain.

Anyway, here are my guidlines for awesome ab work:

-Anterior loaded
-Neutral hip
-A Shit load of weight


Could you give an example for each?


-Anterior loaded- Front squat carries, zercher carries, anything with a bar/load held in front of your body

-Unstable- Do a heavy Farmers walk but with only one bar in one hand. Stand up as straight as you can and don't die. Also, hanging weights from bands from the bar during heavy holds or anterior loaded work will create and almost uncontrollable, chaotic enviroment. Your entire core musculature is designed to fight movement, rotation, and the force of gravity on your body. Creating more of these forces to fight against in random swinging patterns will work what the core was orignally designed to do. Also, it will wreck your shit.

-Neutral Hip- Standing up.

-A Shit load of weight- A shit load of weight.


Cool, Thx.