T Nation

What is Everyone Doing for Core?


#1

What does everyone do for core training? I feel like my core is holding my squat back, so I am trying to strengthen it. I have started doing planks and ab wheels.


#2

Once you learn how to brace properly, squatting and deadlifting works your core enough that you probably don’t need anything else. Also push ups and chin ups are supposed to work your abs harder than just about any ab exercise.


#3

Standing ab wheel and reverse hyper were the most effective for me. Just relying on squats and deads left me with a weak core. Once I started hammering it, I overcame some plateaus.


#4

Twice a week. Rotate though spread eagle sit ups, planks, overhead barbell situps, single hand KB situps, weighted sit ups, kneeling abs, banded abs, deadbug variations, leg raises, hanging leg raises, and so on, hollow holds, etc

Make sure you brace actively during ab work.


#5

Thanks i will definitely through in some reverse hypers.


#6

Thanks I work those in as well.


#7

With how many studies and powerlifters you follow, I’m genuinely shocked at this response. Almost all the top people and studies alike state how important “core” work is for moving more weight.

To the OP, ab wheels, planks, and decline sit ups/GHR sit ups have been great to me.


#8

If you see what Chris Duffin and his people are saying, they do little or no ab work. Ed Coan also did zero ab work. Some might not hurt, but learning to brace is by far the most important thing. Anything involving spinal flexion is a waste of time in my opinion.


#9

beltless squats and pulls


#10

What you are saying here makes me think that maybe earlier on there is more benefit to training abs. I used to do quite a bit of ab work when I first got into PL because that’s what you were supposed to do, according to most people. It’s hard to say whether it really helped or not, I didn’t really know how to brace properly at that time and it wasn’t until I started following Chris Duffin’s videos and articles (and later Stuart McGill) that I really figured out how to do it correctly.

I occasionally do a bit of ab work now and then, although I have cut it out completely in the last while since I really feel like it doesn’t benefit me at all at this point. I was mostly doing McGill curl ups, dead bugs, and ab wheel rollouts, but at the end of a hard lower body session I don’t have much energy left for stuff like that and it seems to just tire me out more than anything. Anyway, stuff like I mentioned above, plus “stir the pot” if you have a bosu ball available are likely to be the most useful for someone getting into lifting because they will force you to brace rather than flexing your spine, which is of questionable value.

If you are looking for exercises to build your lower back (you say “core”, which most people say referring to abs but reverse hypers are mentioned as well) then on top of squats and deadlifts I would recommend RDLs, SLDLs (if you can do them without rounding your back), Good mornings, barbell rows without touching the floor, and back raises/hyperextensions. Some people do well with reverse hypers, but other people get back injuries from them so it’s a somewhat controversial exercise. Mostly, you want to do stuff that challenges your ability to keep your back from rounding rather than flexing and extending your spine.


#11

I find direct training core training helpful at all times personally. Trying to hit a 900lb yoke absent of it would suck.

For reverse hypers causing back injuries, I think the solution is to do them correctly, haha. Too many people try to PR on them and make it ridiculous. On their own, it is a pretty basic hip hinge.


#12

I’m not saying that this is THE ultimate answer… just dropping this here cause it’s a nice watch and someone might pick up some good ideas from it.


#13

Ed coan is a genetic abnormality. That man deadlifted damn near 500 the first time he pulled. And Duffin was a huge advocate of multiple direction ab wheels for a long period of time. Obviously over time it becomes less of a necessity as you stated previously, but I wouldn’t see why you wouldn’t do it if you aren’t pulling or squatting 3x+ your bodyweight. Again, I’m not a powerlifter, but by not pushing “core” work, imo you would be leaving a lot on the table.

Again, it might not be for everyone, but not trying it out for multiple months to see if it has any training effect would be a disservice to oneself. Especially during an offseason or something similar.


#14

Yeah, he was saying that that is basically the only ab work worth doing. Now he’s saying that bracing is the main thing. He’s not anti-ab work but he certainly isn’t pushing it. You should have a look at KMS.

I have done exactly that and find that it’s a waste of time and energy. When it come to squatting and deadlifting, my legs and hips are well behind my abs.


#15

It’s funny you mention the yoke, Josh Bryant was saying that yoke walks are a great ab exercise. Wouldn’t more work with the yoke be a more specific way of addressing the issue?


#16

Just to clarify, since I mentioned Duffin and KMS, what they are mostly advocating for ab training is bracing drills if anything.


#17

Have you by chance done a fair amount of yoke training?


#18

Absolutely none.


#19

Getting under a load that heavy beats you to hell and really taxes recovery. To make it a primary means of ab training is akin to getting chemotherapy so that you don’t have to shave your head anymore. It can work, but trade off isn’t worth it

Yoke is typically trained light with a focus on footwork, with the heavy stuff saved for comps.


#20

I imagine if you were to do it for ab work you wouldn’t be using incredibly heavy loads, once it’s well over your max squat it should be forcing you to brace at least as hard as you would need to when you squat or deadlift.

Anyway, my opinion is that I do not need any direct ab work at the moment. That answers the question in the original post. For someone new to powerlifting (or strongman, weightlifting, whatever) then it’s possible that some ab work might be beneficial but I would stick with stuff that teaches you to brace rather than go into spinal flexion. Stuff like ab wheel, planks, stir the pot, McGill big 3 are likely to pay off the most. I’m not alone in this line of thinking either. While I’m not a big fan of Mark Rippetoe, you may notice that his Starting Strength program does not include ab work. He also has an old article where he goes on about how squatting and deadlifting is the only “core” work (he insists on using “scare quotes”) that you need. So if you feel it helps then by all means go ahead, but it doesn’t help me.