When it comes to training your ab muscles, doing the same exercises over and over can be one of the major pit falls in developing six pack abs, that is why we want to show you some uncommon ab exercises to help you strengthen and carve out your abs. The ab muscles are used in most compound or standing moves we do, so besides training them for form, we need to train them for function. Having a solid core will help us in other aspects of our training; for example, when doing exercises like squatsstanding press and even pull-ups. That being said, doing a few sets of sit-upsand crunches just isn’t going to cut it.


1. THE PLANK


The plank is a great exercise to work the core and ab muscles but don’t just hold a static plank for 60 seconds, instead, try and add a more challenging element which makes you stabilize your core under a base which has less support.


UNCOMMON EXERCISE – THE PLANK PLATE SHUFFLE

Get into a plank position with 4 x 2 kilogram weight plates placed just outside your right shoulder. While in the plank position, use your left arm to move the plates from the right to just outside your left shoulder. Move one at a time. Once all the plates have been moved, use your right arm to move the plates back to just outside your right shoulder. That is one rep. Try to do this for at least 3 reps before resting and remember to tighten and focus your ab and core muscles throughout the exercise to prevent your body from twisting when you move one arm off the ground. I would suggest doing at least 3 sets of these.



2. THE CRUNCH


Exercises like the crunch are effective when performed correctly but often promote bad posture. Rather try movements that focus on keeping your rib-cage in the same position as you perform exercises that involve an abdominal ‘crunching’ motion.


UNCOMMON EXERCISE – THE HANGING LEG RAISE (TOE TO BAR)

The toes-to-bar hanging leg raise has been, well, what I would call bastardized by the Crossfit movement as they swing their entire body to get their feet up to the bar. However, a proper toes-to bar hanging leg raise should be carried out by slowly lifting your legs up to touch the bar without breaking your shoulder angle (or swinging). To start, hang off of a pull up bar with a grip that is wider than your shoulders. Keep your legs together and lift them slowly towards the bar. Then return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner. This is an extremely difficult movement so if you are battling, or are not very flexible, try bending your knees and bringing them up as close to your elbow height as possible. When raising your legs, focus on rotating your pelvis posterior so you don’t arch your back. Perform 3-4 sets of this movement with 6-10 reps per set.



3. THE SIDE BEND


While the side bend is a great exercise to work the obliques, they aren’t as good for promoting core strength when compared to exercises like the farmer’s walk or fireman’s carries. Now if we concentrate on weight that focuses on one side at a time, our core is put under a tremendous load.


UNCOMMON EXERCISE – THE SUITCASE DEADLIFT

Stand alongside a loaded barbell and get into a deadlift starting position. Grab the weight, in the center, with one hand. Now lift the bar by driving through the heels and maintaining a straight back. Use your core to prevent leaning to the side. Hold the movement in a standing position for 2 seconds and then lower the bar back down to the ground. You will feel your abs and obliques really working when you hold this standing position. Try to focus on getting 8-10 reps per side and do 3 sets.



As mentioned earlier, large compound movements also work abs and your core as they have to stabilize your spine. So make sure to incorporate big lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead squats, pull-ups and standing presses into your workout and get that hard-core.


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