Core, core and more core. Have you heard this word lately? I must admit I’m more than a little tired of this buzz word. In the old days we called your “core” your Abs and Lower Back. Joseph Pilates threw in the glutes and called the combination of these groups the “powerhouse.” More often than not today people say they are training their core, when in actuality they are doing little more than preparing for a life in the circus. Let’s cut to the chase...if you are in need of balancing on one foot on a balloon half ball whilst curling and pressing a 3 pound dumbbell while concurrently performing a hip adduction movement with a giant rubber band while patting your belly and rubbing your head you are preparing for a sport I am unfamiliar with. That kind of workout is for the performers in Cirque Du Soleil. Though challenging and maybe even fun it is not going to provide the dramatic changes in the physique that true athletes are looking for.

Understand I am not discounting the need to train the “CORE.” What I’m saying is that most people are missing the boat big time when it comes to accomplishing this especially in a way that will help shape that six pack while improving athletic performance. When it comes to training the midsection most people are so busy trying to “confuse the muscle” that they forget to let it learn! One very important point that many so called “experts” neglect is the need for repetition to get maximal adaptation and results for the body. All too often trainers are trying to out-train the next trainer or create a program that’s so cutting edge that it is too quick to change and consequently the body doesn’t have time to learn. Your body, like your mind, needs time to learn and adapt. The first few times you perform a new movement or exercise your body is processing neuromuscular adaptations. Basically, your brain is learning how to tell your muscle to do what it is you are asking it to do. If you alter the movement dramatically before the neuromuscular pattern is established no true physiological changes can take place. First the brain tells the muscle what to do. Once that link is established and then maxed out, then you can push the muscle to the point of fatigue where it will make true physical changes (get stronger.)

What is the point of all this mumbo jumbo? Pick proven strength building, performance enhancing, and physique altering movements and master them. Once you master them push them to a new level. This is how you create the changes in your body you are looking for. What I can tell you from personal experience and from training numerous clients is that working the basics with slight variations will make a huge difference in your overall strength and appearance. Also, from personal and clients experiences, I have seen improvement in total body strength when time is put into training the Abs and Lower Back regularly. So, how do you train your Abs and Lower Back for the absolute best results?

First, you will notice I say abs AND lower back. Training one and not the other is just plain ignorant. You are asking for injury if you just train abs and never the lower back or vice versa. Muscular strength and balance is imperative for maximum strength increase and injury avoidance. Training just abs and not the lower back would be no different than just training the biceps and never the triceps or just upper body and never lower body. Now that we have cleared that up, throw in a few variations and you have hit it all. Adjust the intensity of your workout by changing your incline angle.

Sample Workout

Crunch: 5×10-25
(Your feet locked under the padded t-bar pad, you extend back stretching the abdominals and then crunch back up fully squeezing the abs with each repetition.)

45 degree Single Leg Low Back Hyperextension: 3×10-20
(One foot locked under the padded t-bar and the other resting atop stretch down towards the floor then squeeze your way back up. This is a really challenging exercise and may take some time doing Regular Back Hyperextensions first to build the strength for this.)

Side Crunch: 4×10-25 (each side)
(From a side hip position with your feet locked under the padded t-bar you stretch down to the side the crunch back up using the obliques.)

Traditional Low Back Hyperextension: 4×10-25
(A variation I like to do here is to touch the hands to the floor at the bottom of the movement, then at the top squeeze the shoulder blades together and pull the arms back. This variation fully engages all the muscles from the glute area, lower back and into the rhomboids. This is an excellent postural exercise.)

Crunch with Twist: 4×10-25
(Perform like the regular crunch; but, at the top of the movement perform a twist. This incorporates all of the muscles of the “core.”)

Sculpt that six pack and get stronger than you have ever been all at the same time!

Author's Bio:
Ian Lauer is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. His background in personal training made him an expert in providing countless of valuable advice and a proud member of Team Powertec. Powertec is the pioneer and leader in the area of strength equipment. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, Powertec produces a full line of strength equipment for home and light commercial purposes. Our brand is highly sought after by the educated buyer looking for weight capacity maximization without sacrificing safety, customization of their Workbench home gyms through extensive accessory modularization, and commercial gym quality at home gym prices. Visit our website at or our online magazine at for more fitness advice.