The Three Best Core Exercises for a Six Pack

There is more to your core than a six pack. Say it with me. There is more to your core than a six pack. BUT – we all kind of want to have one, right? It’s the modern day total expression of health. The truth of the matter is you aren’t going to get a six pack just from working out – you have to have your nutrition dialed in, as well. You’re also not going to have a very functional or impressive core if you don’t focus on it at least a little bit with your exercise plan. What follows are the three best core exercises for a six pack and strong abs.

Best core exercises:

A registered dietician once said to me, “I tell my husband, I can either have a six pack or drink a six pack with him, not both.” It’s a line that has really stuck with me as I make nutrition and workout decisions. Some days the clear choice is the six pack abs. Sometimes it’s a little more gray – and having the glass of wine with family and friends means more. For the days you are devoted entirely to your fitness and getting your own six pack (one you can’t buy) here are our three favorite core exercises for a six pack.

Hollow Body Hold:

The basis of a strong core is being able to hold your body in place, as I talk about in this video, and the hollow body hold teaches this better than any other movement. If you think planks are easy, turn over onto your back and give these a try. Bring your chin to your chest, your arms overhead, and feet 6-12 inches off the ground. Your back should be pushed into the floor, and you should look like the bottom of a rocking chair. You will have to squeeze every muscle in your core as well as your quads and glutes in order to do the hollow body hold effectively. For a killer workout, try completing 5 rounds of 0:30 hollow body hold with 0:30 rest. It gets very challenging after set number 2.

Barbell Roll Out:

The barbell roll out has been a favorite of fitness trainers for a long time. It forces you to keep your abs tucked down toward your hips, very similar to the hollow body hold, and also incorporates your shoulders into the fun. To do this movement, load a barbell with ten pound plates on each side. Kneel behind the barbell, placing your hands just outside shoulder width. Keeping just your knees on the ground, roll the barbell out in front of you until you arms are overhead as far as you can manage, and then roll back up.

Try doing three sets of ten reps at the end of a workout for a great core finisher.

Partial GHD Sit Up:

The GHD sit up has become somewhat infamous in the CrossFit world – it’s effective, but it can leave you sore for a long time. If you’ve never done one before and you do too many, you’ll have a very hard time even standing up the next day. That’s why we prefer the partial GHD sit up. To do this, set up on a GHD machine just as you would to do the full sit up. Your legs will be straight with your feet locked in, and your butt on the pad across from your feet. Cross your arms over your chest and lean back until your back is parallel to the ground. Sit back up until your shoulders just pass your hips.

Depending on your ability level, do ten to twenty reps for three to five sets.

Don’t do too much!

Moderation in all things certainly applies to getting your six pack, as well. If you do all of these exercises every day, you will overtrain your core and not see the results you want. The best strategy here is to simply include one of these exercises three times per week after your regular workout schedule. Keep at that for a month and check out how much you progress in your goal to get your six pack!

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