The Right Way To Train Your Core

Before we get into how to improve the core and make it look sexy at the same time let’s make sure that we all share the same definition. The skeletal portion of the “Core” is made up of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, the very top of the spine known as the cervical spine and the middle, or the thoracic spine. This area is the foundation for all limb movement and should be taken into account when developing a high-quality training program. What we are really concerned with here, however, is the muscular portion of the core and how to make it look good and perform for us.

The primary purpose of the core musculature is to ensure that the spine is stabilized to allow for any demand that is placed on it. When we think of the muscles of the core we visualize the ripped abs we see on fitness models. These muscles, the rectus abdominis, are important – but there are also many more muscles at work. Twenty-nine pairs of muscles make up the core and many of them function solely to stabilize. These muscles, such as the multifidi and Transverse abdominis, are not visible to us, but contribute in a big way to our stability. These muscles are Type 1, or slow twitch fibers, and are very good at endurance. To ensure we are safe while training, or even during day to day activities it is important to consider this in any core training program. The program we will discuss will incorporate movements which are specifically designed to address the internal core muscles and stabilizers.

Muscles that are responsible for the movement of the spine are much more visible and are also Type 2 in nature. We commonly refer to the abs as the rectus abdominis, but there are quite a few muscle groups acting within the core to create powerful movement. The rectus are the big, visible muscles on the stomach. These muscles are Type 2, or fast twitch muscle fibers. They are not meant for stabilizing, but instead are capable of producing much more force. A complete core training program should also take these fibers into consideration as well. Doing hundreds of sit-ups in hopes of having great abs may not necessarily be the best way to go about it. Let’s discuss how to have a great Core.

There is a common myth that great abs are made in the kitchen, alluding to the fact that the diet must be “clean” if one is to see their abs. This is true to a degree, but there are many athletes who don’t practice a solid nutrition plan but still display well defined abs. The key to ab visibility is a combination of development and low body fat. To ensure that we are able to reach low body fat levels, we want to ensure our core is stable so we are not getting hurt. Injuries will set our training back, making body fat storage that much easier. For this reason we are going to take a holistic approach to core training, including some movements meant to develop the rectus abdominis but also work on our stabilizers to ensure good overall health.

The Right Way To Train Your Core


Begin by performing this program once the first week. In Week 2, perform this twice per week and maintain that frequency for the next 6 weeks. After 6 weeks you can begin to add resistance to the movements that focus on the Type 2, or fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Each session begins with training the stabilization muscles of the core. The Type 1 fibers respond best to endurance training.

Type 1 Fiber Movements

Plank (In full plank position) for 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

Plank for 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

Side Plank for 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

Side Plank (opposite side) for 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

Vertical Scissors (Start with 10 work up to 30 consecutive)
Rest 30 seconds

Horizontal Scissors (Start with 10 work up to 30 consecutive)
Rest 2 minutes

Type 2 Fiber Movements

Decline Bench Sit-ups, 3 sets of 10-20 reps
Tips: Use 30 degree decline bench, and reach for the ceiling on each rep. Start with 10 reps, work up to 20 consecutive. Once you can do 20, grab a 5lb plate to hold in your hands.

Hanging Leg Raise, 3 sets of 10-20 reps
Tips: Keep your legs separate and avoid any swinging at the bottom. Start with your legs in a full hang and swing them toward the ceiling, if you can. If not, then use a knee bend and swing your knees to your chest. Start with 10 reps, work up to 20 reps. Once 20 reps are achieved at full length, add weight to your ankles..

Cable Crunches, 3 sets of 20 reps
Tips: Attach a rope handle to one side of a cable pulley apparatus. Place it on the highest setting and grab the ropes from the ground while in a kneeling position. Lock your arms at the side of your head and use your abdominals to contract the weight down, bringing your elbows to your hips. Hold for a slight squeeze and control the movement. Increase the weight if necessary.

Paul Revelia

Paul Revelia is an IFPA and NGA Pro Bodybuilder and owner of Pro Physique LLC. He is currently studying Exercise Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He is a Core Nutritionals and Outwork Apparel Sponsored athlete, born in Georgia and raised in Florida. With over 20 years of experience as an athlete and coach he develops custom nutrition and training programs for athletes looking to get on stage to those who just want to look and feel their best.

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