3 Core Exercises For Whole Body Stability

My best friend Donal asked me to write him a core workout. I've taken far too long to do it.

We both have the goal of being able to hold a handstand. And to be more stable overall.

When I first started working out I totally ignored core exercises. I just lifted as heavy as I could. After a string of injuries, I've spent the past 18-months getting back to basics.

The core is involved in everything we do. It's worth investing time into having a strong core. Plus, a benefit of a strong core, is with a low enough body fat percentage, you'll have some epic abs.

So this series of exercises is for me as much as it is for my friend and anyone else who wants to strengthen their core.

Exercise 1 - Plank

You can plank anywhere. And you probably have before but there's a variation I've found from gymnasticbodies.com which will rock your world.

The first thing you'll notice is the rounded back and extended arms. This is a god mode plank.

Instead of sagging your chest and shoulders, you want to round them like a mountain. Imagine you've got a pole propping the middle of your chest up.

The same goes for the glutes and hips. Instead of letting the lower back arch, you'll want to tuck your hips in by bringing them towards your hands. Do this whilst sucking your belly button into your spine. The video below demonstrates it beautifully.

This position is known as a posterior pelvic tilt (PPT).

How long should you hold this for?

If you can't hold it at all (it's harder than you think), start with 3 sets of as long as possible. If you're a little more advanced, start with 3-sets of 30-seconds.

Beginners

Rounds: 3

Time: As long as possible

Rest: 1-minute between rounds

If you're holding for longer than 30-seconds, increase the number of rounds and lower the rest time.

Advanced

Rounds: 3+

Time: 30-seconds+

Rest: >1-minute between rounds

Exercise 2 - Hollow Body Hold

Much of the strength required to perform a handstand comes from the ability to hold. The hollow body hold helps with just that.

Start by laying flat on the floor. There will be a gap between your lower back and the floor, this is natural. Pull your belly button in towards your spine and flatten your back against the floor. You should feel your core activated.

Now extend your arms straight out above your head and point your toes. Slowly elevate your pointed arms and toes off the ground whilst keeping your back flat against the floor. Once your limbs reach 30-degrees, hold them there.

Beginners

Rounds: 3

Time: As long as possible

Rest: 1-minute between rounds

Advanced

Rounds: 3+

Time: 30-seconds+

Rest: >1-minute between rounds

Increase the hold time by 15-seconds per week. Once you're surpassing multiple sets of 1-minute holds, you can add a small dumbbell to your hands or ankle weights to your feet for extra gains.

Bonus - Arch Body Hold

You could think of this as the reverse hollow hold.

Perform the same steps as above except this time you're on your stomach. The hollow hold helps with the muscles on the front of your body, this position will balance out the muscles you can't see (glutes, hamstrings, lower back).

Beginners

Rounds: 3

Time: As long as possible

Rest: 1-minute between rounds

Advanced

Rounds: 3+

Time: 30-seconds+

Rest: >1-minute between rounds

Exercise 3 - Twisting Side Plank

The core is a complex weave of muscles all working together to keep us upright and protect the spine. It's easy to forget about those that aren't always so visible and that's what this last exercise aims to take care of.

Start by laying in a side plank position. Put the hand of your top arm on your head with your elbow facing to the sky. Now carefully bring the top elbow down to 90-degrees, stop when you're parallel to the floor. Your whole upper and middle body should rotate. Spread your feet a little for stability if you need but keep your bottom arm still as you would in a normal side plank.

Beginners

Rounds: 3

Reps: 5 per arm

Rest: No rest between switching arms and 45-seconds rest between rounds.

Advanced

Rounds: 3+

Reps: 10+

Rest: >1-minute between rounds

If you can do more than 10 reps per arm, slow the temp down. Hold at the bottom for a 3 count and return to the top position. Then take away the rest time in between rounds. So you would end up switching arms for 10 reps until you've done 3 rounds per side with no rest.

Extras

Avoid training your abs until complete failure. Rather train them with intensity, every day. For example, 5-minutes of concentrated training per day rather than one broken 30-minute session per week.

Think of farmer strength when it comes to core. Farmers don't perform heavy deadlifts or squats, yet they're strong as hell. Why? Because they're constantly walking around with heavy things, wrestling animals and performing other strenuous activities with their bodies.

5-minutes per day ends the week with an accumulated 35-minutes of total training. It's the small gains over time which make all the difference. Plus, not being able to move the next day after a workout from hell will hinder your next one. I'm all for training intense but not when it takes away from your next session.

Doing these for a couple of months should result in some quality strength gains in your core. Now go practice some inverted holds against a wall and you'll be handstanding like a pro in no time.