T Nation

What is Everyone Doing for Core?


The argument is that there may be another approach that is at least equally good.


That is not the argument I am discussing. This would appear to be the confusion.


This is why Dave Tate has people do GHR, hanging leg raises, and standing abs before training. But honestly if you can’t make yourself do 5x1 minutes of planks, 4x20 leg raises or something similar after a training session you probably have trouble eating a proper post workout meal. ( Not specifically you, but the general you ( as in people ))

To me saying proper bracing technique is all you need along with squats/pulls to train abs is the same as saying “just learn to flex your triceps while benching, it’s all you need for triceps”.

For some people this may be true, but for most people you have to train triceps ( along with abs ).


Helms freely admits that when he competed the sport wasn’t as tough as it would soon be. So while he’s a pretty respected and bright guy, looking at his pics isn’t going to make anyone think Shevon Cunningham needs to worry anytime soon.

Israetel, I honestly only know his name though his writing, and plenty of folks online always asking about something he wrote… so as with countless names I can mention, he didn’t earn a following by being good at what he’s handing out advice on so others can be good at it (SOOOOO Many authors I can lump under this heading).

IMO, I’ve known people with quite varied genetics. My wife barely trained when I first met her, and she had a pretty visible 6 pack. Never did sports, never was typically “fit”, and certainly didn’t have a profession that involved much movement (Librarian). On the other hands, I know guys who have done years and years of performance type exercise (similar to what Israetel alludes to), as well as in the gym hypertrophy type work, and still have crazy shallow abs.

So,… genetics (the ultimate decided) aside,… if you want a muscle to stand out, you need to train it. If what you’ve been doing doesn’t work (Israetel doing only compound exercises in search of abs), then you need to do something else (direct ab work).



I do have trouble eating a proper meal after working out, for that reason I drink a protein shake with added carbs and eat a couple hours later.

As for the kind of ab work you are talking about, I could do it but I won’t have enough energy to brace my abs hard enough to get anything out of it at that point. Also, I saw a video on Kabuki movement systems where they were talking about how timed planks are a waste of time and don’t carry over to PL because you aren’t bracing moderately for an extended period when you squat or deadlift but rather bracing maximally for a few seconds. Once a plank isn’t challenging anymore you have to do something to make it more challenging, they were demonstrating planks with leg crossed and pushing a plate back and forth with one hand while bracing hard. Just something to consider, what has become standard ab training isn’t particularly effective.

As for doing ab work or whatever right before training, I don’t really like that idea because either it will negatively affect your workout or you have to do it so light that it won’t do anything anyway. I read some Westside articles where they were talking about doing GHRs before each workout for someone who has lagging hamstrings, if it’s a major weakness that is holding everything else back then it might make sense but otherwise I have my doubts.

That’s a flawed argument, the equivalent would be saying that you don’t need direct tricep work and can do board presses, close grip bench, dips, and so on. If that’s not enough and you can’t handle more pressing volume then perhaps direct tricep work would make sense, but it’s not a stabilizer muscle so its not working the same way as the abs.


What do people think of this? @chris_ottawa , I got your opinion

But what do you all think? @T3hPwnisher , @flipcollar , @Rattus , etc…interested in more of a strength viewpoint rather than a physique improvement viewpoint.


I would typically do by ab work during my warm ups for squats and deads. I am of the opinion that, if doing that prevents you from being able to perform, that is most likely an indicator of weak abs, which is even more of an argument to train them hard.

Brian Alsrhue has ab work as part of his giant sets, and does it all the way up to 700lb squats and deads and 500lb benches, as a non powerlifter. Should be fine for others. Trick is to not go to failure on abs.


I have also done ab work supersetted with the main lift and/or during warm ups. Now I’m doing them at the end of the workout (or at home), since I’m using “heavy” loads with them.

Anyway, I think its solid way. I honestly don’t think its superior to any other though. Only thing that matters is that the work gets done efficiently. It’s not for everybody, and might not be optimal when peaking for a meet. But I’m not a coach, so the last sentence does not have a lot of value.


I really wish I knew why power lifters in particular seem to have the hardest time accepting if something is weak you have to train it.

We directly train almost every muscle group but when to comes to abs, bi’s and calves… screw it.


@corstijeir @T3hPwnisher

I asked Josh Bryant about this, and how ab training would be different if you are training for PL, BB, or strongman. He also coaches athletes in all three sports, one of his clients won one of the lighter WSM weight classes just recently. His response:

" I really don’t think you need direct AB work if you brace properly, strongman drills, front squat static holds etc…are much more effective "

So you guys can say I’m full of shit and this argument is insane or whatever but some of the top coaches and athletes agree with me. Sorry to tell you, but your opinion holds little weight.


Who has Josh coached for strongman or bodybuilding? I am only familiar with his work with powerlifters.

No one has said you were full of shit. Dude, you are being way too sensitive on a topic about ab training. If you think my opinion holds little weight, then don’t follow my advice. I do the same when it comes to your opinion. That’s the thing about opinions.


My mistake, I thought his client came 1st but it was 3rd

How do you figure I am sensitive about the topic of ab training when I don’t train abs? You guys just keep saying I’m wrong and the people whose opinions I am quoting know nothing, I’m giving you the opinion of someone whose opinion means something now.


I’ve never said you’re wrong; I’ve simply not shared your opinion. I’ve never said the people you’re quoting know nothing… Re-read what’s been written dude. It’s why I’m saying you’re being too sensitive on the topic. You’ve constructed some sort of combative narrative that simply isn’t there. Hell, you’ve replied to me many times when my statements weren’t even to or about you, but was me talking with another poster in the topic.

And that’s great, and I’m glad you found that. I still disagree with it, based off my own experiences. There are also other people out there whose opinion matter that share my opinion.

This is why I’ve said the argument is insane. You’re going to find support on both sides. It will always boil down to “do what works for you”.


Ok, so you never actually said that I was wrong, but rather that my argument was insane, which essentially amounts to the same thing here.


Once again, that reply was not to OR about you. I was replying to another poster in regards to another topic. I even clarified this already earlier, commenting that the argument you were presenting is not what I was calling insane.

You are being vain here dude.


So what other topic was being discussed in this thread?

How does vanity have anything to do with this? It just seems like you are trying to end this with a comment that makes me look foolish, and I don’t really like that.


How assistance work is treated in the sport of powerlifting, in that case on the topic of tricep work.

The vanity is in regards to thinking that all of my comments are about you. A reference to the song “You’re so vain”. And I don’t really like you saying I said you were full of crap when I did no such thing. Aside from quoting you, I don’t use profanity here.

Now that we have both expressed our feelings on the dialogue, is there anything else?


It is an insane argument. That doesn’t mean we can’t have it.

Ask Josh if his opinion varies based on if the person is a beginner or intermediate lifter.

As with nearly everything "it depends"is a huge part of training. Maybe the majority of the people Josh is working with don’t need it. Maybe newer people do? The overwhelming majority of lifters on this forum that ask questions are going to be beginner/novice lifters. As such the information given should probably cater to them.

Just as you can find people to support your side, I can probably go pull info from some top athletes/coaches that support direct ab training. Ben Pollak, Brandon Lilly, Brandon Smitley, Thor all come to mind.

You may not have to do crunches, leg raises, side bends and situps but you have to train your “core” somehow. If you’re doing front squat holds to build your “core” then you’re training your core.

Conventional, unconventional, you have to strengthen your core somehow.

If we can’t agree on the above statement we should probably both go jump off a bridge.


Emphasis mine, because once again the topic somehow drifted to abs instead of core.


A big part of that is probably because I tend to use them interchangeably. There’s core training and then there’s ab training, both I feel are important to train directly and indirectly.

Ab training counts as core training but core training doesn’t have to count as ab training. I digress, training core is good. Just find the method that works for you.