Perform challenging core exercises to strengthen and sculpt and lean your midsection.
Most abdominal and back exercises are a challenge because they work the entire core through various planes of motion -- and this makes the basic abdominal crunch seem like a piece of cake. Core exercises are usually functional movements that feel more natural to the body; they also burn more calories, and help you get an effective workout in a shorter amount of time. True hardcore abdominal and back exercises will challenge more than just your muscle strength -- they push your muscular endurance, balance and core control to the limits.
Abdominal Pike Using A Suspension Appartus
When performed correctly, a suspended pike is one of the toughest core exercises you can do. To attempt this exercise, you will need a suspension apparatus and something sturdy, such as a horizontal pole at least 6 feet off the ground to secure it to. Once the suspension system is secured, adjust it so that the handles are 1 to 2 feet from the floor. Get down on both knees with your back to the suspension system. Place your hands flat on the floor beneath your shoulders and slip your feet into the apparatus, one foot at a time. Ensure your feet are level with each other and contract your core muscles by drawing your navel in toward your spine. Inhale and support your body weight with your arms as you slowly lift your knees off the floor, bringing you to a plank position. Exhale as you use your abdominals to lift your hips up and toward the ceiling until they are directly above your shoulders. Pause and slowly lower to the starting position as you inhale again. Increase your repetitions as you get stronger, aiming for eight to 10 reps. Avoid doing more than 12 to 15 reps in one set.
Single-leg Deadlifts With a Barbell
The single-leg deadlift is an advanced progression of the basic deadlift which forces the muscles of your lower back to work much harder to execute the exercise. Get into position by holding a barbell with your arms extended and resting in front of your thighs. Slightly bend your right knee and shift your body weight to your right side. Contract your abdominal muscles and draw your shoulder blades down and in toward your spine. Begin the exercise by slowly flexing forward at your hips, lowering the barbell toward the floor. Keep your left leg aligned with your spine and allow it to float upward as you flex forward. Pause briefly once your torso is parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the starting position without allowing the right foot to touch the floor. Perform eight to 10 repetitions and repeat on your right side.
A jackknife is a challenging abdominal exercise that requires the core to work as a unit, but with an emphasis on the abdominals and lower back. Start by first lying face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Contract your abs to stabilize your spine and slowly draw your knees into your chest and extend your legs over your hips. Extend your arms and reach for your toes. Tuck your chin into your chest and crunch your upper body upward, lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. Inhale as you simultaneously swing your legs and arms back toward the floor, lowering your head with your arms. Pause briefly once you feel your lower back start to lift off the floor. Exhale as you return to the starting position and repeat for eight to 12 repetitions or until you can no longer keep good form. Avoid doing more than 15 of these in one set.
Often neglected, the obliques are an abdominal muscle that need to be worked when attempting to strengthen your abs and back through exercise. Get into position by lying on your right side with your legs stacked and toes pointing straight ahead. Shift your legs slightly ahead of your body. Extend your right arm out in front of your chest with your palm on the floor. Position your left hand behind your head with your elbow wide and toward the ceiling. Inhale as you contract your core to stabilize your spine. Without allowing your legs to part or bend, exhale as you bend laterally at your hips to lift your knees and left elbow toward each other. Use your right arm to help lift you higher as well as control your movement. Pause briefly as you balance on your right hip. Return to the starting position and repeat for eight to 10 reps before performing on the opposite side. Aim for 12 to 15 reps as you get stronger.