The benefits of core training include much, much more than a shredded six-pack. While many people believe that planks, sit-ups and crunches are a good way to train their core musculature, that can’t be farther away from the truth. It’s time to destroy myths about core training and talk about ways to build real core strength and power. Looking to stop wasting time on useless exercises and take your performance to the next level? Read this article to discover 6 challenging barbell moves that will transform your core musculature before you even know it.
Why the barbell?
Effective core training requires understanding the functioning of core musculature. The core is a collection of muscles which are responsible for stabilizing, protecting and moving the spine. It consists of the inner core muscles, such as the diaphragm, pelvic floor and transverse abdominus, which lie deep inside the abdomen and are the first to engage to protect the spine during heavy resistance training; the outer core muscles, including the abs, lats, spinal erectors, glutes and hip flexors, that generate movement and have an important stability function during high-speed activities.
One of the main ways in which the core muscles stabilize the spine is by creating stiffness that limits excessive movement, and this is nowhere as important as during weightlifting. Moves like the deadlift, squat and overhead press place great demands on your core muscles, requiring them to hold the spine in a rigid position while the hip and shoulder joints generate the force needed to move the weight.
So how should you train your core, given its basic functions? That’s simple: grab a heavy barbell and let your core musculature do its job. By moving weight while keeping your torso stable, you’ll work your core complex from every possible angle and spark immense fat loss and hypertrophy.
Here’s how to burn fat, accelerate overall muscle growth and build a core of steel without having to perform a single crunch.
#1. Landmine Rainbow
We can only say this much about the landmine rainbow: prepare for some serious soreness. And be sure it’s going to pay off, as this highly functional movement will train your core in a completely different way than what you’re used to.
Place one end of a barbell in a landmine. Grab the other end with extended arms at shoulder height with your feet about hip-width apart. Keeping your arms as straight as possible and your torso stationary, twist the barbell to one side, lowering it down toward one hip, then bring it back to the center and twist it to the other side and the other hip. Don’t turn your hips or shoulders. Keep alternating sides.
#2. Barbell Rollout
What’s harder and even more effective than ab wheel rollouts? Barbell rollouts, of course. Warning: this one is not for the faint-hearted.
Kneel on the floor and grab a barbell with 45-lb plates. Place the bar on the floor in front of you and get on all fours. Keeping your arms straight and torso stable, slowly roll the barbell straight forward, going as low as you can without touching the floor with your body. Keep your hips straight and abs and glutes squeezed in the fully stretched position. Hold for a second, then pull yourself back to the starting position.
#3. Barbell Side Bend
Side bends are God’s gift to anyone looking to sculpt their obliques. The use of barbell adds a new layer of intensity to the exercise, which is guaranteed to result with greater muscle activation and high levels of metabolic stress.
Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell placed on the back of your shoulders like on a back squat. Keeping your back straight and head up, bend at the waist and move your torso to one side, going as far as possible. Hold for a second, then come back up and repeat the movement on the other side.
#4. Barbell Straight-Leg Sit-Up
In case you happen to like sit-ups, you’d be thrilled to learn a superior way to do them that doesn’t involve shortening your hip flexors and rolling your shoulders forward. Just add a barbell to the mix and you get a really tough move that demands you to rise by keeping your torso maximally rigid and stable.
Lie on your back with your legs fully extended, holding a lightly loaded barbell over your chest with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight and torso stationary, raise your torso until it’s vertical, taking the bar over your head so it ends in an overhead press position at the top of the sit-up. Don’t let your back round forward!
#5. Zercher Squat
Besides being the ultimate move for building a huge back and killer legs, the zercher squat will work your core harder than any squat or deadlift variation there is – it’s effin’ brutal and your core muscles will work like crazy to prevent you from collapsing forward!
Hold a barbell in the crook of your elbows, cradling it on your torso, while standing shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Keeping your back straight and head up at all times, slowly squat down by sitting back and keep your weight on your heels. Go as deep as you can, then drive through your heels, straighten the legs and raise the bar back up. This is an advanced exercise, so if you’re relatively new to the weight room, perform it inside a squat rack or use lighter weight for safety purposes.
#6. Single-Arm Landmine Press
Holding the bar with one arm will cause your trunk to rotate, and your core muscles will have to brace really hard to counteract the rotation and stabilize your entire torso, and that’s exactly how a truly effective core training looks like. In addition, this exercise will help you eliminate any strength imbalances between the sides of your body.
Place one end of the barbell in a landmine. Grab the other end with one arm and hold it near the same shoulder as you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Without twisting your torso, drive the barbell overhead. Repeat until completing all prescribed reps per arm, then alternate sides.