My Daily Core and Abs Routine

February 11, 2012

As a triathlete I need a strong core and solid abs for a number of reasons (not just for the look!)
1) First and foremost because in the swimming I want to keep my body as much as possible parallel to the water surface in order to gain speed and I can achieve this only if I have an iron core.
2) On the bike, if you want to avoid lower back pains, it's your abdomen that should be in charge of sustaining your upper-body weight.
3) Finally, the stronger the core the better runner you’ll be. A strong core will help not only sustain the weight of your upper body but it will help you lift the legs and achieve longer strides.
That is why I train my core and abs everyday for at least 30 minutes, and I'm pretty satisfied with the results...I mean, the picture below is good proof, right?
Anyway, this is in a nutshell my core and abs routine. I do 3 (sometime 4) sets of each exercise, it's pretty intense, and at the end I can barely feel my muscles. Hope you find this useful!
Note: I posted some YouTube's videos that show how to do the exercises. I find those very useful because they teach the correct form which I believe is crucial!

Toes-elbows planks

Also known as the “classic” plank it’s THE exercise for training your core and one that everybody should do.
Start in push-up position, but on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Squeeze your abs tight and press your forearms into the floor. I hold it for not less than 120 seconds, but at the beginning you might want to start with 60 seconds and then steadily increase from there.

RKC Planks

This is the advanced version of toes-elbows plank. Move to this stage when the latter becomes too easy.
Set yourself in plank position, but more your elbows out farther so they are in line with your head (instead of your shoulders). Squeeze your glutes, brace your abs, and squeeze your quads to lock out your legs and prevent any movement. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Let me tell you, this is pretty hard, if you want you can start with 15 seconds and then increase up to a minute.

Planks on a Swiss Ball

Another pretty advanced evolution of the toes-elbows plank.
Place your hands on a Swiss ball and position your body in pushup position. Squeeze your abs tight and brace your entire body, trying not to let your body move with the ball. I hold this position between 60 an 90 seconds but you might want to start at 15 seconds at then increase.

Swiss ball roll-outs

Lately this has become my absolute favorite core exercise.
Position yourself in plank position with your elbows on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Then, while keeping your body rigid, brace your abs tight and the roll out so that your arms extend in front of your body. Go as far as you can without allowing your hips to sag. Pause, and then use your abs to roll back to the starting position.
Do at least 10 - 15, or until your muscles allow you to but be ware they will hurt badly!

Side planks

Among my favorite core exercises because it works not only your muscles but also challenges your balance.
Lie on your left side with your legs straight. Shift your weight onto your left hand and raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Squeeze your abs tight and hold for time. Then, switch sides and repeat.
If you feel that you have a good balance you can also try to lift the leg not holding you on the floor.

Side Plank

Alternate Planks (aka Birddogs)

Love this exercise as it also has a “cardio” component that helps burning calories.
Start on your hands and knees with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your abs tight and then raise your arm and leg so that they are in line with your body. Hold for time for 5 seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat with your other arm and leg.
Once you become good at it hold it for 10: pretty challenging!

Globlet Squats

Hold a dumbbell vertically with both hands and keep it close to your chest. Squeeze your abs and then push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as far as you can. Pause, then stand back up.

How To: Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Back Bridge

In this exercise you should focus on getting the absolute perfect form otherwise you might risk hurting your back.
Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Make sure your feet are under your knees.
Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles.
Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back on the floor.
The goal is to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You may need to begin by holding the bridge position for a few seconds as you build your strength. It's better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go longer in the incorrect position.

Medicine Ball Walk Outs

Put a medicine ball at your feet. Push your hips back without rounding your lower back. Place your hands on the med ball and slowly start walking your hands on top of the med ball driving it away from you. Walk your hands as far as you can without letting your hips sink, and then walk your hands backwards as you roll the ball back towards your feet.

One leg-up crunches

Lie on your back, with fingers laced behind your head, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg straight up toward the ceiling, ankle bent. Using your abs, lift your upper body toward your right toe. Pretend there's a string in your belly button that is pulling your stomach down toward the ground. Cradle your head in your hands as if it were an egg, and keep your neck relaxed. Work up to 25 times each leg.
Advanced: Straighten the lower leg, and keep it 1 inch off the ground throughout.


If you’re not in excellent shape you might want to start with the simple ones and then once you get a hang of it you can proceed with the more advanced.
When it comes to abs and core there’s only one way: do them everyday! Remember, being men we store fat in the belly so you want to keep that area as active as possible!

The Iron You