In today's world, there is never enough time to do anything. Never enough time to train, never enough time to eat and certainly no time to rest. However, the biggest problems we face today is with our basic lifestyle. Guys are running cycles, pumping arms, legs and chest but have weak core muscles. All the pains and problems we experience, from sitting too much at the PC or in the car, come from weak core muscles.
This study is fairly clear that weak core muscles cause lower back pains:
Iowa Orthop J. 2009; 29: 97–99.
PILOT DATA: ASSOCIATION BETWEEN GLUTEUS MEDIUS WEAKNESS AND LOW BACK PAIN DURING PREGNANCY
Kathryn J. Bewyer, MPT, Dennis C. Bewyer, PT, Dana Messenger, D.O., and Colleen M. Kennedy, M.D.
“Pregnant women with gluteus medius weakness were roughly 6 to 8 times more likely to have low back pain than those without weakness...”
It seems that bodybuilders of today have huge muscles but weak cores, most guys can't even do 15 leg raises on a pull-up bar. We need to change that. How can we do it? Well, we are going to implement a system of AM training called Evolutionary Core Power, this is a hybrid-pilates system designed by a group of trainers I have worked with. The system utilizes a mix of core exercises and power exercises in the AM to strengthen the core and increase your power (yes your power comes from your core).
You will need to do these in the AM on an empty stomach, right after you wake up. You should NOT eat anything before starting and the only thing you can drink during is pure water (nothing added to it). You will also need to purchase a Yoga ball and an ab wheel/roller, both are fairly cheap – you can pick them up at 100s of places online. Don't forget to get a yoga mat or some other mat so it's easier to do these.
Rest period between sets: ~10 seconds
Exercise 1: Burpee
The Burpee is probably one of the most brutal exercises out there but it doesn't look like much. It's comprised of 5 phases (pictured below).
Part 1: You do a squat and place your hands on the floor (flat)
Part 2: Kick your feet back like you're about to do a push up (stay flat don't let your lower back hang)
Part 3: Do a fast pushup (exploded up)
Part 4: Holding your hands on the floor, bring you feet back under your (return to squatting position) – not 1 by 1, but both legs at the same time
Part 5: Stand up from the squatting position and jump as high as you can
Part 6: Repeat it again – after you land from the jump go to the squat in Part 1 and do it over
How many times do I need to do the Burpee?
It really depends on you, but guys starting out can generally handle 8-12 reps, some more some less. I've seen guys who can't even do 2 or 3 after the first 2 sets.
How many Sets?
Start with 5 sets of 8-12 in the first 2-3 weeks and move up as you see yourself getting stronger.
Exercise 2: Plank
Since this is the beginner instructional article, we will do the plank on the floor instead of off the yoga ball (which is much harder). The plank is fairly simple and straight forward (see picture below). All you need to do is be in the push-up position, than lower yourself onto you your elbows with your hands together. Basically, you will stay in this position, like an L shape and squeeze your abs.
Sets and Times: This is a position you have to hold, you'll need to literally hold yourself in the plank position, so there is no 'reps' – this exercise is timed. You'll need to try to do it for 30 seconds at a time for 5 sets. If you can't do 30 seconds, start with less until you build up your core.
A few points to note, you need to be flat with your butt not going too high up, basically the pressure should be on your core muscles and not your legs or arms or chest.
Exercise 3: Side Plank
This exercise has the same idea as Exercise 2 above but it's from the side. Basically, a side plank is exactly what it sounds like (assuming your read Ex 2 above). You get on one side, balance yourself on one arms with your legs straight out and body straight out. You squeeze your abs and you start the time. You will need to do this exercise on both sides – meaning both arms, left and right.
Sets and Times: This exercise is very subjective because most bodybuilders can't hold themselves up on one arm, they are too bulky and have weak core muscles. However, we will still try 15 second sets on each side at 5 sets. It means you'll need to do 5 sets @ 15 seconds on the left side plank and 5 sets @ 15 seconds on the right side plank.
Exercise 4: Reverse Plank
Think of it as a plank from exercise 2 but in reverse (face pointing at the ceiling instead of the floor). You need to bring your legs in front of you (stretched out), keep your body stretched out (angled L shape). Your palms should be shoulder wide, pointing at your toes – do NOT overdo this, make sure not to hurt your wrists. Now, you should lift your torso, while squeezing your abs, as high as you can while keeping the proper posture (see picture attached) and hold the position. Make sure to squeeze your abs and core as you hold yourself up.
Shoot for 5 sets @ 30 seconds, if you can't last the whole 30, start slower.
Exercise 5: Ab Wheel/Roller
This is probably the more simple exercise. However, note, I wouldn't suggest anyone starts this on their toes; rather, start this exercise on your knees (on a yoga mat). I know it seems like you can do anything, but 99% of people can't do this without being on their knees.
This exercise is simple. On your knees, hold the wheel in your hands like you're about to do a push up. Balance with your core and slowly lean forwarding, stretching your arms in front of you (as you see in the picture). DO NOT overdo it in the start, as you can hurt your lower back. Only go until you feel a bit of pressure and your core muscles working and roll back. 5 sets @ 12 reps per set should be your starting point.
There are 5 exercises @ 5 sets each, so expect about 25 sets out of this workout. However, keep in mind that you need to take very short rest, nothing over 10 seconds between sets; otherwise, you'll lose the anaerobic-aerobic combination of this core training.
Remember, these guidelines are to start, you can modify them based on your needs. If you can't do 5 sets or simply can't go past 15 seconds, modify it in the start so you feel comfortable. You have to work your way up to a strong core, you won't get one in 3 days. Over 90% of guys out there won't be able to do these 5 exercises the way shown here; if you're one of them, you have a weak core. That's not something to be ashamed of or worry about, use it as a tool to push yourself to get a stronger core.
Once you can comfortably do all these 5 exercises without much exhaustion, you are ready for the intermediate Evolutionary Core Power workout.