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What is Everyone Doing for Core?

I just like having abs like raviolis, so I do lots of rollouts and leg raises. Bracing may be sufficient for strength, but it won’t give you jacked looking abs.

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Mike Israetel and Eric Helms, both of whom compete in bodybuilding and coach bodybuilders, both disagree. Helms said that he has never seen a bodybuilder improve his abs from doing direct ab work. The main thing if you want visible abs is to reduce bodyfat. Do you know anyone who can squat 600 and has lagging abs?

Very few people can squat 600lbs, and of those who can, how many are lean enough to have visible abs? How do people develop visible abs without squatting hundreds of pounds…?

As far as I know, neither of these two have placed terribly well nor fielded competitors who have done as such. However, my following of the sport is limited. Curious was @BrickHead or @the_mighty_stu would know on the subject.

I suppose I’m in this ballpark, with visible abs and a 560ish squat. Will be testing for a new max this week.

In one sense, I do not have lagging abs. They look great, and I suppose if that’s all that matters, mine do not lag.

In another sense, I’ve come to realize that my core strength has been SEVERELY lacking, and that’s had everything to do with the fact that I shake so much on my heavy lifts, and why my carries suck in strongman. Since working with a coach, just over the past 6 weeks, direct core work has been a game changer for me.

I would say that, generally speaking, my core was not lacking as it related to powerlifting. I don’t think core stability/strength was a limiting factor as it related to the barbell deadlift, squat and bench press. But as pwnisher has been saying throughout this thread, strongman, and specifically yoke, is a different animal. The demand on core stability is far greater when you have to start moving with heavy, odd objects, and when you have to put things above your head.

Also, agreeing with pwnisher’s point that just doing yoke itself is not sufficient to build all the components of a good yoke walk. I tried that, it didn’t work. I just kept sucking. For most people, simply having a really big squat translates well to yoke. I’ve got one of the biggest squats in the sport for a lw strongman competitor, and yet my yoke walk is one of the absolute worst in the sport, even at a local level. so something else was missing.

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What types of direct core work have you found to transfer to strongman?

I’m not sure who either of them have coached except for Helms coaching Bryce Lewis, who is a powerlifter. I remember Mike Israetel saying he earned a pro card and he also works with other pro bodybuilders like Jared Feather. They are not alone in not advocating for ab work for bodybuilders, on Kabuki Movement Systems there is a video with Stan Efferding talking about how he did no ab work at all for either PL or BB and used compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, chin ups, and dips to work his abs.

Anyway, there is not much to argue about here, the point is that there are plenty of successful bodybuilders and powerlifters who don’t do direct ab work. Maybe it’s worthwhile for strongman, I can’t personally speak on that.

Stan also is up there as having no been super competitive as far as bodybuilding goes.

I mean, if we are just using earning the pro card as criteria, for sure, but among other pros, they haven’t stacked up as well. Although it would also beg the question of how much their abs came into play for those results.

You seem to have missed my point completely. If you can squat 600lbs, or anywhere close to that, you will have some well developed abs. If you aren’t lean enough for your abs to be visible then reduce body fat.

Anorexia? In the summer I see crackheads downtown walking around with no shirts on and they have abs. You can be sure they don’t squat hundreds of pounds, and they barley eat either. At the same time, if you are trying to avoid squatting “hundreds of pounds” then you might be on wrong forum, and perhaps the wrong site altogether.

Do you think that if he was repeatedly told that his abs were lagging then he wouldn’t do something about it? He is a bit dogmatic, but he’s not an idiot either.

No idea; I am not familiar with how he thinks. I don’t consume a whole lot of media on training, aside from books.

On another note, I recall you saying that you attended a seminar with Bill Kazmeier. Did he mention anything about ab training? In have one of Josh Bryant’s books that includes one of his programs and there is no ab work in it. I’m also aware that he didn’t train events at all and just lifted weights, which wouldn’t be the greatest idea nowadays, but he did alright for himself.

I will have to dig through the notes on it. I don’t remember him talking about it, but it was a Q&A, so if no one asked, it didn’t get talked to.

I DID ask about weight over bar, and his advice was to show up strong and just throw it over the bar. It was good advice; I won, haha.

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Perhaps there’s not much to be gained by doing direct at work. However I believe direct ab work helped me with lower body exercises.

And you’re correct. Neither one has gotten freaky looking for a contest. We’ve posted pics of Israetel here before. Eric Helms did look good, but good isn’t freaky. And when I use the term freaky I don’t refer only to muscular size or bodyweight or that someone with such a quality placed high consistently, as there have been men with jaw dropping condition and physiques who were not some of the best in the world. Perhaps they aren’t the most symmetrical but they’ve come in shredded to the bone with at least a few freakish body parts and physiques that make peoples’ heads turn.

And I don’t recall either getting people into extraordinary shape.

So MAYBE they are right and perhaps many BBers do some things bout of tradition but many of us don’t want to take chances by reinventing the wheel. If the best have done the same things over and over, why not do it? Is it the best logic? Maybe not.


Ab Wheel, Stir The Pot and beltless Squats/Deads.

Ab wheel/bar roll outs
Fall outs
Ring leg raises; over top of the rings - these I find much harder than hanging leg raises just due to stressed stabilizers.
Landmine twists
push ups
reverse hypers. lots of them.

Heavy planks 15-30second holds. Back extensions for high reps. Slow decent and paused squats beltless. No need to do sit ups and such if you are trying to get stronger in squats and deadlifts.

This is bit off topic from the current debate, but I think people take this ab training thingy way too seriously.

When training for strength in PL/strongman whadever, its clear that abs get trained in big lifts, like all other bodyparts. I still believe that doing direct ab work will only benefit majority of the lifters. BUT you don’t need to spend hours doing ab wheel rollouts. If you have pressed/squatted/deadlifted your abs are already been trained, but doing couple minutes/sets at the end of the workout (or supersetted with the lifts) wont really take away anything.

What I tried to say that it is not probably the most important factor in ones training. For some it might be more beneficial, but some may do well without. Its like training other “bodyparts” for strength. Many PLs do arm work, and many don’t. Its the same thing with ab work. It probably is not mandatory, but will most likely help if you do it right.

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Weighted planks are great. I’ve scaled my ab training down and focus on:

  • using only couple excersises.
  • using excersises which emphasis the static hold (wheel and plank, GMs work too).
    -using heavy loads and only few (2-3) sets.

Have you tried front squats?