When you think ab training, crunches, leg-raises and sit-ups usually come to mind...
... the crazy thing is, those are actually some of the LEAST effective exercises for training the core area. There is very little carryover to sports and daily activity.
That's where THIS exercise comes in. It's a simple one that uses the core in ways that have practical applications in sports, strength and every day life.
You're going to do a simple squat movement with only ONE side of the bar loaded.
It sounds strange and sounds like it should be a leg exercise, but when you try it, you'll know exactly why it's all about core strength.
All the crunches in the world won't flatten your abs! This exercise WILL.
By loading only one side of the bar, you'll be placing great demands on the deep, stabilizing muscles of the midsection...the obliques and the transverse abdominis. These are the muscles that wrap AROUND the core area and provide stability to your spinal column in addition to transferring power from the lower to the upper body (and vice versa).
If these muscles aren't strong, you won't be able to throw hard, run fast, or pick things up throwing your back out!
Also, because they wrap around your midsection, these are the muscles most responsible for making your stomach flat, NOT the six-pack abs. They act like a girdle wrapping around your stomach... the six pack abs run up and down and simple aren't anatomically able to perform that "flat stomach" function.
For this exercise, you'll need a barbell and (preferably) a rack do these in. Load just one side of the bar and make sure it has a collar on it to prevent the weight from sliding off if the bar tips. I'm using one 45 lb plate here - I recommend starting lighter the first time you try it.
Get under the bar and take your normal squat stance. Grip the bar HARD. When you take the bar off the rack, it's going to be a big change in balance. Pull down hard with your non-weighed side hand.
Step out and get ready to squat - you'll already be feeling the tension in your core.
Now squat down. THIS is where you'll really feel it in your side abdominal area. It's teaching those deep core muscles to fire in response to an unbalanced load while performing a basic squatting movement. This is what develops that sports-related core power and strength.
Perform all your reps on one side (about 6 to 8) then turn around and do the other side.
That's it! This is a simple exercise to set up and perform and really targets the core strongly.
Since you're using a relatively light weight, this exercise won't challenge your legs to any great degree...this is all about hitting those deep muscle of the core and making them WORK.
Unevenly Loaded Barbell Squats
If you want to work a little heavier, instead of loading just one side and leaving the other side empty, you can load both sides...but unevely.
In this picture below, I've got one plate on one side and two on the other. This creates the same type of uneven loading but allows you to use heavier weight.
The execution of the exercise is essentially the same. Strive to keep the bar horizontal as you squat down.
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