July 22, 2018

Week #1

Day 1

  1. Walk outs (from knees) - 10 total
  2. DB Crunch - 20 total (light db behind head)
  3. Plank - 1 minute
  4. Band Hold (on back) - 10 reps of 3 second holds

Day 2

  1. DB Pull Overs - 3 x 8
  2. Plate Arches - 3 x 5 each side
  3. Side Bridge - 20-30 seconds each side
  4. Side Bends w/ DB - 3 x 10 each side

Day 3

  1. Dead Bugs - 3 x 10 second holds
  2. Supermans - 3 x 10
  3. Superset: 2 sets

Hyper Extension - 10 reps

Glute Bridge - 30 seconds

Week #2

Day 1

  1. Walk outs (from knees) - 10 total
  2. DB Crunch - 2 x 20 (light db behind head)
  3. Plank - 1 minute
  4. Band Hold (kneeling) - 10 reps of 3 second holds

Day 2

  1. DB Pull Overs - 3 x 8
  2. Plate Arches - 3 x 5 each side
  3. Superset:

Side Bridge - 30 seconds each side

          Side Bends w/ DB - 10 each side

Day 3

  1. Dead Bugs - 3 x 10 second holds
  2. Supermans - 3 x 10 w/ plates
  3. Superset: 3 sets

Hyper Extension - 10 reps w/ plate

Glute Bridge - 10 seconds w/DB

Week #3

Day 1

  1. Walk outs (from knees) - 20 total
  2. DB Crunch - 2 x 10 (heavy dumbbell, arms extended
  3. Superset: 2 sets

Plank - 1 minute

          Band Hold (kneeling) - max time

Day 2

  1. DB Pull Overs - 3 x 8
  2. Plate Arches - 3 x 5 each side
  3. Superset:

Side Bridge - 30 seconds each side

          Side Bends w/ DB - 10 each side

Day 3

  1. Superset: 3 sets

Dead Bugs - 10 second hold

          Supermans - 10 second hold

  1. Superset: 3 sets

Reverse Hyper Extension - 10 reps (on bench)

Glute Bridge - 30 seconds w/DB

Week #4

Day 1

  1. Superset: 3 rounds

Walk outs - 5 standing or 10 from knees

DB Crunch - 2 x 10 (heavy dumbbell, arms extended

Plank - 1 minute

          Band Hold (kneeling) - max time

Day 2

  1. Superset: 5 rounds

DB Pull Overs + Crunch (on swiss ball) - 10

          Plate Arches - 8 each side

Side Bridge - 30 seconds each side, first 10 seconds w/1 leg up

          Side Bends w/ DB - 10 each side

Day 3

  1. Superset: 3 sets

Dead Bugs - 10 second hold w/ dumbbells

          Supermans - 10 reps w/plates

Reverse Hyper Extension - 10 reps (on bench), 3 second hold on each rep

Glute Bridge - 10 seconds w/heavy DB or barbell

Raise your hand if you want a strong core…ok, that’s what I thought.  Everyone wants a strong core, but most people are confused about how to achieve one.  If you are doing hundreds of reps of crunch variations on the floor after your workout then you are on the wrong path.  Working your abdominals in high rep isolation movements will do as much for your core strength as doing light cable chest flys would do to increase your bench press.  

For a weightlifter, the most important role the core plays is to provide stability between the upper and lower body during heavy lifting.  A weak lower back is going to limit your deadlift no matter how strong your hamstrings are. If your abdominals cannot create stability in a stretched position during a squat, then your lower back and hips will face unnecessary pressure while trying to stabilize your pelvis during the movement.  Weak obliques are going to limit the amount of weight you can safely handle on a standing DB shoulder press. There are countless other examples I could give, but by now you understand the relationship between core strength and stability during heavy lifting.

The key to core stability is not just strengthening these muscles, but getting them used to working together in compound core movements.

If you have followed any of my past Core Articles here on M&S, you may have noticed that many of the movements were advanced and some even required “extreme” core strength.  What I’m going to teach you today is a beginner core program, designed to take even the most “core clueless” lifter and progress them into a core master in 1 month. Now, just because this is labeled “beginner” does not mean that the movements are easy - and most of them progress into harder versions each week  This program is a 3 day split, and although each workout works the entire core, each day focuses slightly on a different area. Day 1 focuses on the front abdominals. Day 2 focuses more on the obliques and serratus, and Day 3 targets the hips and Low Back.


Week #1

Day 1

  1. Walk outs (from knees) - 10 total
  2. DB Crunch - 20 total (light db behind head)
  3. Plank - 1 minute
  4. Band Hold (on back) - 10 reps of 3 second holds

Start on your knees in a “push up” position.  Keeping your abdominals flexed, slowly walk your hands out as far in front of you as possible (the goal is to touch your nose to the floor).  Once you have reached your limit, walk back to starting position. Do sets until you reach 10 total reps, then grab a light dumbbell and place it behind your head for crunches.  Next, complete a plank for 1 minute, taking breaks if necessary. Last you will lay on a bench and grab a band that is attached to a rack behind you (a tricep rope on a bully machine will also work here).  Assume a sit up position that is far enough from the rack so there is tension on the band. Flex your abs and flatten your spine onto the bench, doing 10 reps of 3 second holds.


Day 2

  1. DB Pull Overs - 3 x 8
  2. Plate Arches - 3 x 5 each side
  3. Side Bridge - 20-30 seconds each side
  4. Side Bends w/ DB - 3 x 10 each side

On day 2 you are going to start with dumbbell pullovers, a moment that is normally done with either a chest or back workout.  I like to include pull overs with a core workout, since when done correctly in the Arnold “sideways across bench” style, this movement really targets the serratus and upper abs in addition to the lats, pecs, and triceps.  Make sure that your hips stay lower than the bench throughout the movement. Next up is Plate Arches, one of my favorite “anti-Rotational’ movements. When doing Anti-Rotational movements, your obliques are being worked to stabilize your hips and keep from rotating while resisting a force of moving weight or band tension.  Grab a plate (anywhere from 10-45lbs depending on ability) and hold it at hip level with your feet set at shoulder width. Slowly raise the plate up and out to your side, bring it in an arch past your face and down to the other side. Repeat back the opposite direction, keeping your core tight. Do not rotate or twist your hips.  The next exercise is a side bridge, or side plank. Make sure that your feet are signed up and your body perfectly straight. The last movement for today is a traditional Dumbbell side bend. Make sure that you are stretching the oblique opposite from the dumbbell and that you do not lean forward or backwards, only towards the side.  Think of being stuck between two walls, with the only possibility for movement being to each side.


Day 3

  1. Dead Bugs - 3 x 10 second holds
  2. Supermans - 3 x 10
  3. Superset: 2 sets

Hyper Extension - 10 reps

Glute Bridge - 30 seconds

Day 3 starts with Dead Bugs, a great exercise to strengthen and activate the rectus abdominus.  Lay on your back with your head close to a wall. Lift your legs up and keep them bent at the knee, and push your spine flat onto the ground.  Press your hands against the wall as you keep your abs flexed and legs hinged at the hips at atlas 90 degrees and shins parallel to the floor. Breathe normally and end the set early if your back arches and brings your spine off the floor.  After the three sets of Dead Bugs, lay face down on a mat or bench for supermans. Extend your arms out overhead and slowly contract your lower back and glutes, raising your torso and legs off of the ground slightly. Hold this position while you perform a pressing movement.  Next up is a superset of low back Hyper Extension and a Glute Bridge. The Hyper Extension can be performed on a machine or by laying across a swiss ball. For the Glute bridge, lay sideways across a bench in the same position as when performing a DB Pullover. Bridge your hips up, contracting your hamstrings and glutes while pushing your heels into the ground.


Week 2

Day 1

Whats different?

This week you will increase DB crunches to two sets of 20 reps.  The static Band Holds will now be done in a kneeling position instead of on a bench.  This variation will force you to use your hips and glutes to stabilize your body against the band tension.


Day 2

What’s different?

The only real difference from this workout in week one is that you will now superset the Side Bridge and the DB Side Bends for one set.  Try to use a heavier DB then last week.


Day 3

What’s different?

This week you will add some weight resistance to most of the exercises.  Hold light (2.5-10lb plates) in your hands for the supermans and a medium weight plate (25-45lb) on your chest during the hyper extensions.  Place a heavy DB or medicine ball on your hips during the Glute Bridge.


Week 3

Day 1

What’s different?

This week you will up the number of walkouts to 20.  Remember, you can still break that number down into multiple sets rather than completing an unbroken set of 20.  On the DB Crunches you will now use a heavy dumbbell with your arms extended. Crunch straight up, driving the dumbbell towards the ceiling, making sure not to let it drift out in front of you.  You will also superset Plank and Band Holds for two sets.


Day 2

What’s different?

You should be moving up in weight on both the dumbbell pullovers and the plate arches this week.  That would be the only real change from week 2.


Day 3

What’s different?

This week you will superset the dead bugs with a static 10 second hold in the superman position.  Rather than doing a traditional hyperextension, you will now do a reverse hyper extension. If your gym does not have a Reverse Hyper, lay face down on a bench with your hips hanging off the bench.  Grab under the bench and slowly contract your lower back and straighten your legs as you raise them until they are parallel to the floor. Keep your glutes tight and hold for 1 second at the top of each rep.



Week 4

Day 1

What’s different?

This week all exercises will be done back to back in a circuit fashion.

At this point you should be ready to try a walk out from a push up rather than your knees.  If you can’t get out very far or feel pain/pressure in your low back, you may not be ready for this variation and will need to stick to doing them from your knees for now.


Day 2

What’s different?

Besides doing the exercises in a circuit, there are also a few key changes in technique.  The pull overs will be performed this week on a swiss ball and incorporate a crunch at the end of the movement.  During Side Bends, lift your top leg up during the first 10 seconds of each 30 second hold.


Day 3

What’s different?

This week you will hold heavy dumbbells in your hands during the Dead Bugs rather than pressing against the wall.  On the Reverse Hyper make sure to hold each rep at the top for a full three seconds. Rest at least 1 minute between each round of the circuit.



Now you have a core routine that will transform your core strength in 1 month regardless of your starting ability.  The goal should be to do each workout twice per week (week 1 do day 1 twice, day 2 twice, and day 3 twice) by rotating thru them, but make sure to listen to your body.  If you are sore or your core feels fatigued, take a day off. As long as each workout is done at least once per week, you are good to go.


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