There are a significant amount of benefits that come with focusing on proper core work: we directly improve the quality of our lifts, create better midline stability, protect our lower backs and not to forget, the aesthetic part. As we consistently perform exercises to make our cores stronger, we learn how to actively “turn on” these muscle groups so we can then recruit them for our lifts, thus increasing our efficiency and performance. Loading our torso is a key aspect of CrossFit and I highly recommend performing these simple movements often and throughout your CrossFit training. Here are some core exercises you can do to help improve not only the physical strength of these muscle groups but also get the added bonus of shapely abs, too!
The Plank Hold: starting with your forearms on the floor push yourself up so you are balancing on your toes and forearms only. Be sure to stack your shoulders over your elbows and heels over your toes. Brace down tightly in your abs and hold. Be mindful to keep your hips squared to the floor and long in the spine. Tuck the chin slightly to keep the spine neutral. Do not round the back or allow the hips to droop.
The Weighted Plank: Put yourself in the plank position above and have a friend place a weight plate on the mid-back. Maintaing a proper plank position, brace tightly and hold in the core. When the exercise is complete, have your friend remove the plate before you lower yourself to the floor.
The Side Plank: Balance yourself on one forearm and stack one foot on top of the other. Balance on the outside of the foot, keep the hips square, brace tightly in the core and elongate the spine. Lift the top foot and flex in the ankle. Also raise, the top arm, with fingers pointing towards the sky.
The L-Sit: On a set of parallettes, brace tightly in the core and lift feet off of the ground. Extend legs out in front keeping them as straight as possible, creating an “L” shape with your body. To modify, keep your feet off of the floor but bring them closer to you.
The Hanging L: Hanging from a pull-up bar, lift the legs and extend them out in front, keeping the legs as straight as possible. Brace tightly in the core and hold.
Hollow Holds: Lying with your back on the floor, raise your legs and shoulders, keeping your lower back in contact with the ground. Bring your hands together behind your head and keep your biceps close to your ears. Brace tightly in the core and hold this position.
Flutter Kicks: Lying on your back, keep your legs straight and raise your feet 6 inches from the floor. Brace tightly in the core as you raise one foot slightly higher and as your bring it back down, kick the opposite foot up then switch. At no time is either foot to touch the ground.
Hollow Rocks: Begin in a Hollow Hold position as described above. Initiate a rocking motion utilizing only your core muscles to do so, much like the motion of a rocking chair. Keep shoulders and feet off of the ground as you rock back and forth.
Here are three core strengthening circuits you can perform using these movements:
30 Second Plank Hold
30 Second Hollow Hold
30 Second Side Plank
Rest 1 Minute
Accumulate 5 minutes of an L-Sit
(Start the clock and hold the L-sit for as long as possible. When feet touch the floor, the clock stops. Start the clock once again when you done resting. Continue until you have reached 5 full minutes)
20 Seconds Hanging L Rest 10 Seconds
20 Seconds Scissor Kicks
Rest 10 Seconds
20 Second Hollow Rocks
Rest 10 Seconds