T Nation

Question Regarding Ab/Core Strength

When training ab strength, should you be focusing on concentric/ecentric strength, or isometric strength.

I ask this because in movements like deadlifts and squats, the abs are only contracting isometrically for the most part, so doesn’t it make sense to mainly train isometric strength?

This brings me to another question, that i previously asked but didn’t get answered.

I have heard that standing cable crunches are a phenominal exercise. Is this actually a crunch, or more of a hip flexion with the spine staying neutral?

A movement becomes more focused on hip flexion once the lower back moves. The hip flexors are tied to some of the lower vertebrae, not sure which exactly. There is an article by Eric Creasey I think where he goes over such things, do an article search.

As far as ab strength it seems to be the opinion of alot of authors on here that squats/DL are the only way to actually make abs stronger.

I don’t have too much of an opinion on the matter, and couldn’t think of too many situations where ab strength is the only focus besides a fitness test

what are you looking to do?

looking to target ab strength as an assistance to squat and deadlifts.

[quote]dankid wrote:
looking to target ab strength as an assistance to squat and deadlifts.[/quote]

My best successes have come from (in order);

-high volume beltless squat and DL work
-hanging leg raises, trying to bring straight legs to hands
-weighted decline sit ups

I don’t think you need to be too scientific about it. I trained them hard and I trained them heavy. Seemed to do the trick!!

[quote]lbh110 wrote:

As far as ab strength it seems to be the opinion of alot of authors on here that squats/DL are the only way to actually make abs stronger.
[/quote]

This can’t be true. There are many gymnasts, fighters, and other performance athletes who never deadlift and rarely squat if at all and have phenomenally strong cores. I don’t see many bodybuilders or powerlifters doing dragon flys, lol. I wonder what their training is like?

[quote]actionjeff wrote:
lbh110 wrote:

As far as ab strength it seems to be the opinion of alot of authors on here that squats/DL are the only way to actually make abs stronger.

This can’t be true. There are many gymnasts, fighters, and other performance athletes who never deadlift and rarely squat if at all and have phenomenally strong cores. I don’t see many bodybuilders or powerlifters doing dragon flys, lol. I wonder what their training is like?[/quote]

Look at gymnastics, and fighting as one badass DE session. That’s how.

For clarification, what is a DE session?

[quote]namanga2 wrote:
For clarification, what is a DE session?[/quote]

dynamic effort, speed bench,squatting, etc. Practicing force generation.

Still wondering about the importance of isometric strength for deadlifts and squats.

OR

Do deadlifts and squats done heavy give you enough isometric strength, and the rest of the ab exercises are more aimed the hip flexors?

[quote]zephead4747 wrote:
namanga2 wrote:
For clarification, what is a DE session?

dynamic effort, speed bench,squatting, etc. Practicing force generation.[/quote]

Gotcha, thanks.

Gymnasts typically have strong cores because every single event requires strong abs. Rings especially. The reason gymnasts generally don’t squat or dead is because those build muscle in the places they dont need, namely the legs, which are dead weight in all events but floor and vault.

As for those who say ONLY squats and deadlifts produce ab strength, WRONG WRONG WRONG. The central theory of exercise is that the body adapts to the work it is subjected to. In squats and deads, the abs act mainly as support for the other major muscle groups acting. They will get stronger as more support is needed for heavier squats and deads. You’ll gain ab strength, but that’s not the only way to do it, hence the point of gymnasts and fighters.

In short, squats and deads make your abs strong enough to support the weight you’re putting up. If you can’t support the weight, do ab work so you gain that stability.

[quote]Hanley wrote:
dankid wrote:
looking to target ab strength as an assistance to squat and deadlifts.

My best successes have come from (in order);

-high volume beltless squat and DL work
-hanging leg raises, trying to bring straight legs to hands
-weighted decline sit ups

I don’t think you need to be too scientific about it. I trained them hard and I trained them heavy. Seemed to do the trick!![/quote]

Listen to the Hulk. Although I’d add military and push presses.

[quote]namanga2 wrote:
Gymnasts typically have strong cores because every single event requires strong abs. Rings especially. The reason gymnasts generally don’t squat or dead is because those build muscle in the places they dont need, namely the legs, which are dead weight in all events but floor and vault.

As for those who say ONLY squats and deadlifts produce ab strength, WRONG WRONG WRONG. The central theory of exercise is that the body adapts to the work it is subjected to. In squats and deads, the abs act mainly as support for the other major muscle groups acting. They will get stronger as more support is needed for heavier squats and deads. You’ll gain ab strength, but that’s not the only way to do it, hence the point of gymnasts and fighters.

In short, squats and deads make your abs strong enough to support the weight you’re putting up. If you can’t support the weight, do ab work so you gain that stability. [/quote]

The point was, as far as weightlifting goes, your abs get only so strong by targetting them and you need squats, deads, and stuff like the olympic lifts for them to continue to gain strength. This is basically the theory a lot of people believe in.

Perhaps there are lessons to be taken from gymnasts for weightlifters wishing to build greater core strength? It seems like a lot of people don’t put much effort into seriously strengthening abs, perhaps this is irrelevant but maybe there are effective modifications that could be made being overlooked.

I’ve heard the chinese o-lifters put a lot of emphasis on abdominal training.

Military presses with feet close together kills my abs.

To the original question:

I (like many others) choose to train my abs for stability and as anti-rotators, preventing movement.

My hips and upper body can generate the power, I see the middle as a girdle.

That being said, turkish get-ups, med ball slams/throws, tuck and L-pullups, handstands, squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and the oly lifts (including overhead squats) should be plenty to give you very strong abs.

[quote]Brant_Drake wrote:
Hanley wrote:
dankid wrote:
looking to target ab strength as an assistance to squat and deadlifts.

My best successes have come from (in order);

-high volume beltless squat and DL work
-hanging leg raises, trying to bring straight legs to hands
-weighted decline sit ups

I don’t think you need to be too scientific about it. I trained them hard and I trained them heavy. Seemed to do the trick!!

Listen to the Hulk. Although I’d add military and push presses. [/quote]

And overhead squats.