If you have forgotten about these old school ab exercises, then it’s time for a refresher. I’m going to cover 5 abdominal exercises that will be a blast from the past but are still capable of delivering serious six packs to anyone that does them. Each one will be broken down into the component reasons for why you need to put these back in your ab workouts starting today.
“OLD SCHOOL” AB EXERCISE #1: DRAGON THRUST
First up is the dragon thrust. This ab exercise is a variation of the classic Bruce Lee move called the Dragon Flag. The idea is that you are trying to keep your torso rigid as you extend it out at length. The key differentiator between this and say a plank (another exercise that works on keeping the body rigid) is that this one requires the glutes and posterior chain muscles to fire instead of the anterior chain muscles to make it work. We often get too much work in our anterior chain anyway and not enough on the backside, making this a tremendous core stability move you need to start doing again.
“OLD SCHOOL” AB EXERCISE #2: AB SCISSORS
The second exercise is called the ab scissors. This was a favorite lower ab exercise done by the bodybuilders of yore. The key here is to position your body in the right way before doing the movement and then working on keeping it there for the duration of the exercise.
Here you want to sit at the end of a bench and lean back until your pelvis is in a posterior tilt. This will engage the abdominal muscles. The legs should be held straight out in front of you with the knees straight. Simply lift one leg up to about 45 degrees from the floor and crunch your torso forward to reach a peak contraction at the top.
Unlike traditional lower ab exercises that require you lift your legs while laying on the floor, this has much less chance of tilting you into anterior tilt and stressing the lower back while at the same time keeping the tension on the abs at the moment you want it the most. A traditional leg lift will get easiest at the top of the movement, not the ab scissor.
“OLD SCHOOL” AB EXERCISE #3: BROOMSTICK TWIST
Next is the broom stick twist. You’ve likely seen this out of every classic old school bodybuilder, but I’m not sure that they were doing it in the healthiest way for their backs. This should not be a movement you do for high reps and with great range of motion. Instead, you want to round the thoracic spine and posteriorly tilt the pelvis to limit rotation and keep it confined mostly to the thoracic spine. From here, a small 20 degree twist in each direction is enough to fully engage the obliques and get an incredible contraction. Be sure to lean back while doing this to increase the demands of the exercise.
“OLD SCHOOL” AB EXERCISE #4: SINGLE SIDED DUMBBELL CARRY
The single sided dumbbell carry is one of the most traditional exercises you can do for your core. That said, a carry with a dumbbell in each hand will negate the majority of the core benefits this exercise provides. The offset dumbbell demands that the muscles on the opposite side of the torso contract to keep your shoulders level with your pelvis while you walk. No matter how far you wind up walking with this, the key is to keep the pace natural and the body from tilting.
“OLD SCHOOL” AB EXERCISE #5: CAPTAIN’S CHAIR
Finally, some think the captain’s chair ab exercises are somehow easier versions of the exercises done from a hanging bar. This is true in only one sense and that is, on your grip. That said, if your goal is maximum abdominal development then you don’t want your grip to be the thing that takes you out of the game in your ab workout. Instead, let the chair bear the weight through your forearms and take your ab exercise arsenal to another level while you fry your abs with each move shown.
The key to ab training is not just to make sure you’re getting the most out of every rep you do but to make sure you’re covering all of the key functions these versatile muscles are capable of. My new Core4 Abs program will do just that. I’m putting the science back in ab training to get your abs and core not just showing, but stronger than ever before in just weeks. You can find it at athleanx.com via the link below.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure that you subscribe to our channel here on youtube at the link below and catch all of our latest ab exercise videos and follow along ab workouts to get a taste of what real core training can do for you. It’s time to get a six pack and this time, keep it.
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Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.