Core Workouts For Men
Are you sick and tired of flipping through men’s magazines, seeing page after page of well-sculpted washboard abs? No doubt such images can make you lose hope of ever getting rid of your Pillsbury dough boy look. But if you are looking to strengthen your core and get ripped while doing so, only the best core workouts for men should be performed. And tough situations require tough measures. For starters, your beer guzzling, lazy evenings spent lounging on the couch need to be put on hold. It is not enough to wish for chiselled abs; you have got to put in the work.
So how do you get great abs fast? As most of us are aware, the core muscles are the body’s central starting point for force and motion performance. Therefore, your focus should be placed on strengthening your core at a level that suits your body, especially if you suffer from back pain. But watch out, there are a lot of ‘fitness gurus’ out there that will tempt you with all kinds of crash diets and insanely intense workouts, promising to have you ripped and ready for the GQ Magazine front page in no time. More often than not, most men that fall for such ads end up with ripped tendons and muscle injuries that put them off working out forever. That’s why we have made things easy for you with the ten best core workouts to keep you in shape…the right way.
1. Use the Weight Plate
This first core workout involves using the weight plate is a good place to start for beginners. It is a rather simple yet very effective workout for strengthening the abdominal muscles. The weight plate is shaped like a little steering wheel with little spaces for handholds on either side, only heavier. To use this weight, you start off by lying flat on your back with your feet out. Next, you slowly pull up your legs till they form a triangle, almost as if you want to do a sit up but not as high. Now raise your upper body slightly till you can see your knees. If you have got the right position, you should be feeling some tension in your core.
Finally, you can now pick up the weight plate in both hands and swing the plate to the left until it touches the floor and then to the right. Continue this left to right motion for about ten minutes, ensuring your elbows remain close to your body. Make controlled and slow swinging movements rather than fast and choppy ones. Make sure to move only your upper torso, not your entire body.
The plank is yet another simple yet effective core workout that targets the “six-pack muscles’ in your core. With this method, no equipment is required other than a mat. To start your planking journey, simply lie face down on your mat. Don’t get tempted to sleep off though, fight the urge to curl up on that soft mat. Pull yourself up on your elbows, making sure both elbows are directly under your shoulders and your hands are in fists. Next raise your lower body up until it is resting on your toes. Now hold that position for as long as you can.
The plank is as easy or difficult as you make it. To get the best out of this position, tighten all body parts including your core, glutes and back while controlling your breathing. For a little variety and increase in difficulty, you could raise one leg or an arm up while holding your plank. Fitness experts recommend you hold the plank for 30 seconds for starters and gradually work your way up to three minutes at a stretch.
3. The Reverse Crunch
Known as the Reverse Crunch, this next core workout is another ‘easy looking’ but very effective workout for which you only need a mat. The first step is to lie flat on your back with your arms outstretched then lift your knees up until they are properly aligned then extend your feet outwards. Next step is to fold your outstretched arms behind your head, and without spreading your knees, lift your upper body up from the mat. It can very tricky at first to keep your entire body from rocking. However, as you master the crunch it will become easier to stay still while creating tension at your core.
Overall, this is a multi-dimensional workout; it not only tightens your core but also the back, spine and hips. To avoid possible monotony, you could up the ante by holding the position for a minute or so when you lift your upper body and then repeat. If you are really feeling adventurous, you could even wear some weighted vests while on the reverse crunch to push your limits a little.
4. Swing It
This ‘Swing it’ workout is one that requires a lot of perseverance as you will have to maintain a standing position whilst picking up dumbbells. The good news is that it is perfect for those who not only want to tighten their core but also build upper body strength. Also, you don’t need a whole lot of equipment to pull this workout off other than a pair of dumbbells.
Start by placing your feet together and your body in one position. Then swing both hands with the dumbbells in them first to the left and then the right, repeating the motion as you count from one to fifty.
Make sure to pick a weight you can work with for a sustained period and have a good grip on the dumbbells. You don’t want to lose control of your dumbbell only to have it smash into the poor guy floundering on the exercise mat across the gym. It can be a challenge trying not to lose control whilst getting pulled in the direction you are swinging. Hence the need to keep your feet together and work with weights you can handle.
5. The Side Bend
If you prefer free hand workouts, this is yet another effective exercise which doesn’t require the use of equipment, not even a yoga mat. All it requires is a good technique. To begin, remain standing with your back straight and your knees slightly apart. Now bend to the side as far as you can go. Do not move your waist, rather keep alternating your bends from either side of your body till you complete three sets of 20 bends. If you aren’t cheating and moving your waist, it should be evident in the burning sensation you will feel in your abdominal area.
As you gain a tempo with the side bend, pick up some dumbbells in each hand and carry out the bending motion. Side bends have the added benefit of stretching the intercostal muscles found between ribs and the digestive organs. This helps to open up your lungs making it less likely you will experience respiratory issues like asthma or even the common cold. The side bend even makes your spine more flexible. No wonder it is a popular workout with yoga enthusiasts.
6. The Side Plank
This next workout is pretty similar to the traditional plank but with a little twist. Just like the name denotes, it takes place sideways. That means you start by lying on your side with outstretched feet. Then pull your body up until you are entirely resting on one shoulder with one of your hands curled into fists. Your free hand should then be placed at your waist akimbo. Hold this position for as many seconds, if possible minutes as you can.
Now slowly lift your top leg as far as it can go and hold that position. Slowly bring the leg down and repeat the exercise twelve times. You can do three sets of twelve side planks before switching to the other arm and leg and repeat the process. By simply holding your entire body up on one arm, this will tighten the core really quickly. It takes a bit of practice to master the position, but once you finally have the hang of it, you will surely benefit from the results.
A core workout list wouldn’t be complete without the trusty ole squats. To start off, get a barbell minus the weights for now. You will get to that later. Stand with your knees spread apart then lift the barbell across your shoulders. Make sure the barbell is evenly centered though not bearing down too much on one end of your shoulders than the other. Now squat. Be careful not go all the way down. You don’t want to rip anything important. So, easy as pie, huh?
Aim for at least twelve squats for one set, then add on more sets as you gain confidence. Once you get the hang of that, the next step is to add weights to either end of the barbells. This will put your core under greater pressure and tighten it. Keep adding on more weights as your comfort level increases. For the weighted squats, aim for at least five squats until your body adjusts to the new demand. You can also exercise on a squat rack.
8. Swing that Kettle
With this next core workout, when we speak of ‘swinging the kettle’, it is not the tea kettle we have in mind here. More like a weighted kettlebell. Start by standing straight with your knees wide apart and both your hands on the kettlebell’s handle. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight. Now swing that kettle! Always ensure that you swing in a coordinated manner with the kettlebell through your open legs as far a possible. Then bring it up to align with your chest and back again. Around ten to fifteen swings are enough to make a complete set.
To really tighten your core with this workout, do not cut corners by using your arms or shoulders to build enough torque to swing. Rather use your hips to gain lifting force and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Endeavor to maintain balance and not let the kettlebell get the better of you. If maintaining balance becomes a struggle, try a variation of this workout by swinging with one arm first before switching to the other arm. Ensure you do at least one complete set on one arm before switching.
9. KettleBell Plank
If you have come this far, by now you must be a plank pro and probably ready for this intense form of the regular plank. For this exercise, you will once again need a kettlebell, as the name suggests. To begin, assume the standard plank position and place a kettlebell directly behind your right arm with your legs apart. Now lift the kettlebell and move it to rest directly behind your left arm. At this point, the entire length of your body should be resting on one arm. Make sure to keep your core area as tight as possible.
Keep changing sides with the kettlebell for between 6 to 8 alternations to make a set. The beauty of the kettlebell plank lies in the additional body parts it tightens such as arms, glutes and back. While you are at it, you can even have a go at the side plank and add on the kettlebell for variety. All you need to do is to stretch out your entire body sideways to rest on one arm, then lift the Kettlebell all the way up to your waist and back again until a set consisting of ten lifts are complete.
10. The Medicine Ball Twist
This next workout will certainly need some equipment. Even if lifting weights are not your thing, this is a great challenge as it works wonders if major abs contractions are what you are after.
To get started, get your by now toned glutes planted on the workout bench and your feet firmly tucked under the toe bars. Now raise your body up until midway, fold your arms together and twist first to the left and then to the right. When twisting make sure your movement comes from your waist rather than from your shoulders.
Make it a weighted ball twist by holding a medicine ball with both hands as you execute twists in either direction. However, only select a medicine ball with a weight you can handle. If you pick a ball too heavy, you risk losing control with your arms being out of alignment with your body. If you really want to push the envelope, you could even adjust the angle of the bench higher or increase the weight of the ball you are working with.
- Relieve Back Pain With Core Strengthening Exercises – Webmd
- Barbell – Wikipedia
- Kettlebell – Wikipedia