Sussex Performance Centre

Top 3 Core Exercises: The Most Effective Exercises For Your Abdominals

There are two popular beliefs on core training. One is the functional belief; activating the muscles for better performance, posture and movement. The other is the “not needed’ belief; heavy compound movements provide enough stimulus already. The truth is somewhere in between.

Let’s also be honest; who doesn’t want a great looking midsection?

Role(s) of the CoreĀ 

  1. It protects internal structures
  2. It prevents unnecessary movement
  3. It transfers force between the lower and upper body

At SPC, we most often get asked two questions: “How do I get a 6 pack?” or “my lower back is weak, how do I strengthen it?”. Thankfully, strengthening the core musculature can result in improving both scenarios (nutrition also being an important factor for the former).

As most of our clients have sedentary lives, sitting in a similar position for large portions of the day, we advise training the core early in our workouts to activate dormant muscles which have spent most of the day in a relaxed position. Furthermore, this should enable you to improve your training in the long term, especially during heavy compound lifts.

The 3 movement patterns of the core:

  1. Anti-Extension
  2. Anti-Flexion
  3. Anti-Rotation


Aim: resist extending your spine (like arching your lower back). A favourite exercise of ours is the rollout.

  • 10 reps
  • 2 sets
  • Slow and controlled movement
  • Actively round the spine whilst performing extension
  • You would need something that rolls to perform this (an ab wheel or barbell with plates)


Aim: to resist excessive flexion of the spine. We use the reverse crunch with roller exercise.

  • 10 -15 reps
  • 2 sets
  • Place roller between ankles and hamstrings
  • Hold onto a kettlebell/weighted object behind you
  • Resist flexing the spine and pull from abdominal muscles


Aim: to resist rotation of the lumber spine. We programme the Pallof press.

  • 10 reps per side
  • 2 sets each side
  • Hold of 1-2s
  • Wide Stance, Straight Legs (added work to abductors and adductors)
  • Tall Posture
  • You can use a band or cable machine for this (you may need to stand further away with a band to increase difficulty)

What to do next?

These exercises are best done during or after a dynamic warm-up, before your first major movements or lifts. Focus on technique, body position and don’t try to promote fatigue during these exercises. Performance is always the most important aspect of training.

Want coaching like this? Check out our Personal Training at SPC which will soon be commencing back outside at our facility

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