4 Core "Six-Pack-Inducing" Exercises That Are Better Than Sit Ups
Sit-ups and crunches often get a lot of hate. When done correctly, there is nothing inherently wrong with either. They just aren't the most effective at, well, anything.
If you've got six-pack abs on your to-do list and you think more sit-ups will get you there faster then you've been sorely misled.
A six-pack is about one part muscle development and three parts fat loss and nutrition.
So, you'd be best served to focus on movements that primarily support fat loss (and there's no substitute for proper nutrition), while still developing the muscles that make up your core.
Here are four types of movements that I like that are better than sit-ups and examples of each:
Anything Overhead - Example: Thruster with Overhead Hold
I was going to list these two out separate, but then I got the genius idea to combine them. The thruster is one of my favorite all around exercises, particularly when using kettlebells or dumbbells. I can't think of a single muscle in your body that isn't activated at some point in the Thrusters, and more muscles engaged mean more muscle development and more calories burned for fat loss.
Any time the weight you're using is away from your center of gravity your core has to fire up to stabilize it, and there is no exception for the overhead hold. Combining these two powerful movements into one is the perfect recipe for six-pack success.
Workout Programming: 3-4 Sets of 8-12 Reps
Anything Rotational - Example: Band Core Rotation
Almost all twisting movements originate from the core, so this Band Core Rotation uniquely activates your abs, obliques, and lower back. Twisting movements are particularly good at helping to build and define your obliques which help create the cut "V" shaped torso.
Workout Programming: 2-4 Sets of 20-25 Reps each side
Anything Anti-Rotational - Example: High Plank Pull-Through
Just like you need core strength to move with a rotation, you also need it to stop or prevent movement as well.
The Plank with reach creates an unstable foundation each time one arm reaches for the weight. Your body is going to want to move with the weight, but your goal is to make your arms do as much work as possible. You don't need a super heavy weight for this one since we're not trying to focus on our arms but on our abs.
Workout Programming: 2-4 Sets of 10 Reps each side
(Almost) Anything Single Arm or Leg - Example: Single Arm Farmer Carry
While stability may start at how you build your foundation with the ground (think feet under the shoulders versus together), it's often up to your core to see it through. When we remove one of those anchor points (single leg) or create an imbalance with the weight used (single arm), our core has to step it up to hold us in place.
I LOVE loaded carries, and the Farmer Carry is one of my favorites. To better engage our core, we can do this single arm as we fight to hold our body upright.
Workout Programming: 2-3 Sets of 30-60s each side