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Suggestions for Ab/Core Exercises for Squat


I want to add in some core work to do along with seated and standing calf raises on my off days (Tues and Thurs). The core work I want to do is to help my squat. I want to go into the gym and do high rep seated calf raises, low rep standing calf raises and two core exercises.

My core isn’t yet strong enough to use the ab wheel for more than a couple of reps. Can anybody recommend two good exercises for beginner/intermediate level strength building in the core? Yes I know there is a search function at the top but I want to know which core exercises have worked for you in improving your squat and I couldn’t find this in the search. The only other similar question was from a far more advanced lifter.

Thanks in advance

IMO best core exercises for the squat are standing cable crunches and side bends. Make sure you are only holding weight in one hand if you do side bends. For the cable crunches, do as much weight as you can handle for 15 ish reps and increase it every week if you can. I train core directly 2x per week (every lower body day).

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Hi Max13. Thanks for the reply. I have just looked at cable crunches. They seem straightforward enough. I’ll give them a try tomorrow I think. Two (more) questions though:

  1. How do you progress with them in terms of weight?
  2. Would you replace them with the ab wheel when I get strong enough to do them for reps?

Training my core twice a week directly is what I intend to do too.

I don’t stress over progression for core exercises.
Just keep track of how much weight you are doing and try to use more weight or more reps each time. I rotate several ab exercises myself, so I wouldn’t replace anything with the ab wheel. Just work it in to your rotation.

Remember, your “core” isn’t just your “crunch muscles.” It’s what locks your pelvis and your shoulders together.

Here are some ideas.

If you want to get better at the ab wheel, find something kind of like it, but a little easier. Something you can get some work in on

-Ab Fall outs on blast straps/TRX, with the handles kinda high
-Stir the Pot, with your elbows on a stability ball
-Ab wheel on your knees

Then build that up for awhile. Once you double your work load on the “easy” exercise, and your mid section is improved, go back to the ab wheel.


@FlatsFarmer thanks for the reply. I live in a small West African country because of work and the facilities in the three gyms in the country are limited. Of the three, there is just one gym with free weights and this is the one I go to (also the cheapest). The facilities are limited so no blast straps and no stability balls.

When I said said ab wheel before, I meant ab wheel on my knees! Hahah ooops - must be very weak then.

You gotta want it. These “blast straps” took under 1 minute to make.

Keep doing the ab roller. Do it, do it every fricking day. Mark a line on the floor and try to get past it everyday. Extend the line when you make it to that point. Some says are better than others. It took 50 reps a day for 2+ months before I could do 10 full rom on my knees.

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Jesus, that is a lot. I will start to integrate them into my routine then. The article given above by @FlatsFarmer is great too. I will do 4 exercises from it every Tues and Wed along with calf work. Those blast straps double as entertainment for the pooch too :wink:

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I think the best “core” exercise for the back squat is either heavy front squat holds, and actually front squatting.

I can’t front squat! I can’t get my arms into the position to hold the bar in place. This is an issue actually because further down the line I want to learn how to powerclean properly and it is the same thing with them.

You get on all fours with your hands open and your fingers pointing towards you, then rock back and forward for a couple of minutes every day. If you can wrap a band around both wrists and wrap that band around something so it is pulling your wrists away from you that is even better.

In the meantime, put some wrist straps around the bar and hold them.

Great advice! I’ll give this a go over the next few weeks and see what results it lends me. Thanks.