Warriors are uncommon men. Uncommon men need uncommon training. Here are 3 core exercises that will set you apart from the millions of ordinary people relying on sit-ups and crunches to train their core.
1. The Plank Pull
Attach a 1 to 2-inch superband to a post, squat rack, or other immovable objects. Begin in a solid plank position with slight tension on the band while holding it with one arm extended in front of your head. The wider your feet are, the easier it will be, so start with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your abs as if absorbing a punch. Don’t allow your lower back to sag, or your hips to rotate, and engage your lats to slowly pull your elbow to your hip. Tightly clench your fist and squeeze your entire upper body and core before returning to the start position. Your tendency will be to rotate your hips up on the side you are pulling with. Don’t. Resist any hip rotation, keeping both hips parallel to the floor. Focus on quality instead of quantity. If you are unable to prevent hip rotation, use a resistance band with less tension.
2. The Suitcase Carry
Grab a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand and walk 50 yards. Drive your hips forward and engage your abs, again bracing as though to take a punch. Don’t allow your torso to tilt to either side while carrying. It is easy to relax and walk or lean into the carry, it is another story to stay engaged and upright bracing your core for the duration of the walk.
3. Sledge Hammer Swing
Swinging a sledgehammer at a large tire is a great core exercise that can also be very cardio intensive. Rule #1: Be sure to swing both right and left handed. Rule #2: Swing hard and watch out for your shins by controlling the bounce. Don’t just go through the motions. Give it everything, like you are trying to put the hammer through the tire with every swing.
These exercises are great to add into your current workout anywhere you like, or you can follow this template for a 20 to 30-minute core crusher. Superset the first two exercises for 5 sets, then move on to the sledgehammer swings.
A1 Plank Pull 5 sets of 8 repetitions each arm
A2 Suitcase Carry 5 sets of 50 yards each arm
B1 Sledge Hammer Swing 75 swings each side
Arlo is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a gym owner, and author of Warrior Core: Core Training Secrets for the Modern Combat Athlete and Battle Tested: Training Like Your Life Depends on It, which will be released on Veteran’s Day 2016 (November 11).