Any midsection workout worth doing will accomplish multiple goals. If all you’re getting out of your current ab routine is a better-looking washboard stomach, find something better: a core workout that will not only harden the abs and obliques, enhance overall athleticism and help keep you injury-free, but one that will also improve your poundages on exercises like squats, deadlifts and cleans.

People don’t usually think of these big lifts as core exercises, and then they wonder how a guy who’s not very big can squat or deadlift over twice his bodyweight for reps. It’s because he’s got a strong core that keeps his back from folding when there’s a heavy barbell sitting on his traps. It doesn’t matter how big you are. If your core’s weak, you’re not squatting a lot of weight.

The below workout hits the entire core with a quartet of exercises that includes two isometric hold exercises and two dynamic rotational moves. Perform the routine 2-3 days a week, adding it to the end of any workout or doing it on its own if you wish.


Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Floor Bridge Hold 5-6 90-120 sec. 25 sec.
Russian Twist 3 20-25 per side 25 sec.
L-Hang 4-5 Max. Time 1 min.
Woodchopper 3 12-15 per side 1 min.

Floor Bridge Hold

Lie face up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your pelvis up so that your torso and thighs form a straight line and your back is flat—don’t let your glutes drop or your lower back arch. Keep your abs and glutes contracted and hold this position for 90-120 seconds.

Russian Twist

Holding a relatively light weight plate in both hands, assume a “V” position on the floor where you’re balancing on your tailbones with your torso at roughly 45 degrees to the floor, your feet suspended in the air and knees bent. Staying in this position, rotate your torso to move the plate side-to-side, reaching your elbow to back pocket, at a moderate speed. There should be no pause between reps during the set; it’s a continuous movement.


Hanging from a pull-up bar, lift your legs up until they’re parallel with the floor, keeping your knees extended. Hold this position as long as possible. That’s one rep. If this is too difficult, keep your knees bent on the hold and/or perform the exercise on a vertical bench instead of hanging from a bar.


Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a weight plate with both hands, start with the plate up over one shoulder and your arms extended. Lower the weight diagonally until it’s outside the opposite knee, bending forward and twisting at the waist, but keeping the back flat. Reverse the movement to return to the up position in a powerful yet controlled motion. Do all reps to one side, then repeat on the other.