THIS exercise is how you build REAL core strength.
And I mean BRUTE core strength that will support massive weights. Forget the Bosu ball and forget crunches...you need to do exercises like the One Shoulder Barbell Squat.
It's another entry into my list of exercises that work the abs while not looking at all like an ab exercise and working BETTER than most ab exercises.
This one is basically a squat...so how does it work the abs?
It works by targeting the stabilizing and core strength aspects of the abs. You'll be doing a barbell squat but instead of supporting the bar across your back in a "normal" fashion, you will instead be resting it on one shoulder, standing perpendicular to the bar.
It's going to primarily hit one side of the abdominal wall and hit it in conjunction with a squatting movement, which means this is a VERY functional exercise. More so than most abdominal exercises, in fact!
Here's a snapshot of what it looks like in the start position.
As you can see, I'm facing sideways in the rack. The safety rails are set at a moderate position (not a full depth squat). You'll be starting off from the bottom of the movement with the bar resting on the rails and, for best results, you don't want to be starting at the bottom of a full squat - it's low, but not too low.
I would recommend using a bar pad for cushioning or a rolled-up towel, otherwise the bar really digs into your trap as you're doing the exercise. Use a lighter weight than you think you'll need the first time you do this (trust me). I've got 225 lbs on the bar here and can regular squat double that and it was challenging.
Your shoulder is set as dead-center on the bar as you can manage (you'll be able to feel the balance point on the first rep and adjust from there).
You want to have your hands out in front of you and locked onto the bar to help control it. You can use upwards or downwards pressure to adjust the balance as you stand up.
Come all the way up to the standing position.
Here's the other side view of the exercise. You'll notice that my working-side arm's elbow is point directly out to the side and my arm is held up. Holding the arm up like this helps keep the bar from rolling out to the side
A few other views...
It's a very straightforward exercise that will have a HUGE impact on not only your entire abdominal area but your entire BODY as well. Supporting the weight in this off-center fashion challenges the abs along with the shoulder girdle and legs as well.
It's truly a total-body ab exercise.
When you've done one side, you can either turn around and go immediately to working the other side or take a rest in between - whichever way you prefer. If you go directly from one side to the other, on your next set, start with the different side so you give it balanced workload.
As I mentioned above, the first time you do the exercise, start fairly light to get an idea for how it works. I like to set the bar down on the rails in between reps to reset the core and legs and make everything is properly aligned before doing another rep. With the resistance off-center on your body this is helpful in preventing injury because of compromised body position.
I'll tell you this much...the first time you do this one, your entire core will be sore for several days after. You'll feel that pleasant tightness that tells you that you accomplished something with your core training.
Reverse Band One-Shoulder Barbell Squats
This version of the exercise is done with a couple of training bands hitched to the top beam of the rack then looped around the ends of the bar. This reduces the load as you come down to the bottom as the bands stretch. Then as you come back up, the bands go slack and the load increases.
This is my recommended source for training bands. (Note: Use Coupon Code "rbtfitstep" to get 10% off your purchase of a band package)
This allows you to use much heavier loads and really challenge your core strongly. I'm doing this exercise with 315 lbs in the pictures above. This particular version of the exercise is, in my opinion, even more effective than the straight "non band" version as you're not limited only by how much weight you can use in the bottom position (which is much less than you can use near the top).
Lockout Partial One-Shoulder Barbell Squats
If you're ready to develop SERIOUS core strength, you can also perform this exercise as a lockout partial movement, working in just the top few inches. Make sure you've got some good padding on the bar in the form of a thick bar pad.
I've got 500 lbs on the bar in the picture above. This gives you an idea of the kind of loading that can be worked up to with this one over time (lots of time!).
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