Core training is a huge topic in bodybuilding. The coveted six pack remains the goal of most bodybuilders and is truly a difficult area to target. So what type of training is most effective in working the abdominal region? The answer lies in high resistance exercises that push your body to its limits. The answer does not however lie in endless crunches and simple ab exercises. Training your core should leave you feeling like an animal, not like you just got done with a Jillian video.
The key like with every other muscle training regimen is to target different areas of the muscle and use the low rep muscle building formula to maximize gains. So in segmenting out the abs consider the upper, lower, mid, and obliques when constructing a training routine. Try to hit each area equally and develop well rounded core strength to assist in your other exercises.
In order to hit the lower abs the key resistance workout is leg lifters. This is not however little bent knee lifts on the dip bars. Try grabbing a pull-up bar and perform straight leg lifts bringing your legs up to eye level. The reason being that when you only lift your legs to parallel with the floor it is all hip flexors. Make sure you avoid swinging, body control will make the exercise that much more effective. Another key lower abdominal workout is the leg drop. This is a true test of your abdominal strength. Lay on a flat bench with your butt right at the end. Hold the sides of the bench at head level and lift your legs straight up. From there lower your legs well not allowing your butt to touch the bench. At the bottom tap your feet on the bench and raise your body back up. Achieving one of these is a huge accomplishment, but even if you cannot raise your body back up the lowering motion will still work your abs like crazy.
From there break up your ab exercises slightly by performing oblique exercises. The go to move is lateral raisers with a barbell in a corner. Add weight as necessary but start with the barbell resting on your hip. Using an arcing motion swing the barbell from side to side while alternating your lead foot. Shoot for 16 reps, but make sure you can perform them explosively so adjust the weight accordingly. Perform 2 sets of this exercise. From there move into another oblique exercise. Set up a mat in front of a cable machine with a low handle. Assume the side plank position and perform rows with the free arm. After 10-12 reps hold the side plank position for 30 more seconds, Than switch sides. Aim to do 3 sets of this exercise.
Jumping back into the abdominal exercises now, set up a high cable with a rope handle attached. Set the weight high, you are shooting for 6-10 reps. Hold the handle at the sides of your head facing the cable machine. Keeping your back straight lower your chest parallel with the floor and then move back to the starting position. You have probably seen this exercise a variety of ways most involving lowering your face right to the floor, these are fine but to isolate the abs try going to parallel and compare the effectiveness. Perform 2 sets of these. Finally if you have the resources a great upper ab/whole body exercise; jump rope on a mini trampoline. The stabilization required on the trampoline heavily recruits the upper abdominals. Also by mixing in the jump rope it makes it a true test of strength and endurance.
To finish any ab workout the staple is the plank. One of the best overall core exercises that targets the entire abdominal region. Finish this ab workout by holding a plank as long as possible while maintaining proper posture. Picture a bar touching the top of your head, your back and butt. Once you have reached failure allow yourself a short rest and move into an ab extension, assume a push-up position, but lower your hips to the floor and try to sniff the ceiling. Hold this pose and say the alphabet backwards to stretch out your abdominals, and test your brain a bit.
On a side note although this will strengthen your core region you will not see results until you drop your body fat percentage to at least a single digit level, or mid teen level for women. So make sure you are keeping up with cardio and high intensity interval training regiments. Also as always diet, diet, diet, because training can only get you so far without proper nutrition.
This is the outline for a decent core training workout, it depends on the person on how to work it into your current routine. If you are on a 5 day routine perhaps this could be your routine on your off-days mixed with cardio afterwards. Here is a decent schedule to attempt to work in effective core training.
Monday: Upper Body Power Day
Tuesday: Lower Body Power Day
Wednesday: Morning Cardio, Core Training in the afternoon
Sunday: Core Training