How To Get A Strong Core – Close Look

November 15, 2021 0 Comments


In my last article I explored ways that you can strengthen your lower back. Something that ties in really well to that is core training. A stronger core is essential in virtually all activities in the weight room. It will help to stabilise the spine, prevent lower back pain and improve the effectiveness of your weight training activities. In addition, having a stronger core and then losing some body fat will makes your abdominal muscles more visible. I will delve deep into how to get a strong core in this article.

Heavy Front Squats

You may think front squats are a leg exercise. This is true, but they are so effective at strengthening your core that they must be talked about. A strong core is essential in the front squat to prevent you from leaning over and losing the bar. Therefore programming in heavy front squats will help you to strengthen your core over time. To make the movement even harder on the core you can try doing front squats beltless.

front squat

One Of The Best Core Exercises

One of the best core exercises that you can do in my view are ab wheel rollouts. The ab wheel as the name suggests is an inexpensive tool for training the abs. It is basically two handles connected to a wheel. You would kneel on the floor with your knees close together. Hold onto the handles of the ab wheel with your arms fully extended and the ab wheel in front of you. Then position your lower back into flexion. Roll forward while holding on to the wheel and then bring it back to the starting position. Repeat for as many reps as you want.

I personally have owned an ab wheel for a few years now. It has been a great asset for me in strengthening my abs. The great thing about it is you can use it anywhere, I use it at home on a few of my days off from the gym. Just be sure to put a mat or a pillow under your knees when using this tool. This is to make the movement a lot more comfortable on your knees. It is also a very tough movement when done properly. If you have never done an ab wheel rollout before then you will likely not get more than 10 reps initially. Slowly work up over time to doing more reps and stay consistent in your ab training with this tool.

ab wheel

Hanging Leg Raises

This is another incredible exercise that I do regularly in my own training to strengthen my abs. I do this exercise at the end of my sessions and I do the straight leg version. I do the hanging leg raises using a captain’s chair. An example of what a captain’s chair looks like is pictured below. Pretty much every gym will have this piece of equipment, but if your gym doesn’t then you can do the same exercise hanging from a pull up bar. 

When performing straight leg hanging leg raises you want to incorporate a little bit of flexion into the movement and not have your back completely fixed on the pad for the entire rep range. This will allow you to work your abs harder and get more benefits from the movement. To program these leg raises, I would go for 12 reps with bodyweight to start with. Every workout aim to add an extra rep with your bodyweight. When you get up to 20 reps then you can start doing paused reps. With paused reps you would hold the end range contraction for a few seconds on every rep. To make it even harder you could try putting a dumbbell between your feet.

hanging leg raises

Abdominal Crunch Machine

This is a great strength exercise for your abs and it compliments the leg raises really well. You could even perform this exercise with hanging leg raises in a superset fashion. Every gym will have an abdominal crunch machine and usually the weight stacks on these machines are very heavy. This makes them a great tool for strengthening the abs, but you have to make sure you use them properly.

In order to get the best benefits from this exercise you need to focus solely on contracting the abs when performing each rep. Don’t use your arms too much by pulling the handles as this will reduce the workload on your abs and shortchange your efforts in the process. Instead focus on quality reps, I aim to go for around 12 reps on this exercise. Every week you can add a little bit more weight to it to get the progressive overload benefits. You could even do backdown sets after your main heavier sets and shoot for very high reps.

I believe this machine has very good utility for progressive ab training which is why it is a mainstay in the majority of gyms and is very popular.


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Visible Abs

If you want to see the fruits of your labour so to speak when it comes to getting visible abs and definition then that would come from dropping body fat. To see visible abs you would need to get to a body fat of between 6 and 17 percent for men. Any body fat lower than 10% would generally be reserved for bodybuilding competitors or professional bodybuilders. As a person that is interested in bodybuilding and lifting weights in general a sub 20% body fat is a good goal to aim for.



In this article I have explained how to get a strong core. The exercises I have listed are all ab exercises that I use regularly. They will hit your abs from different angles and develop a thick and strong midsection. In turn stronger abs will help to keep your lower back healthy as well as improve the effectiveness of various compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups. 

If you have any questions about anything I have written in this article please leave a comment below. I would love to read them. As always, happy training!



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