4 Week Beginner Core Strength Trainer

4 Week Beginner Core Strength Trainer
Coach Myers has taken a break from extreme core challenges to craft a core strength routine for beginners. You're just 1 month away from a strong core!

Workout Summary

Increase Strength
Single Muscle Group
Beginner
6
Bands, Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female

Workout Description

Raise your hand if you want a strong core.

Ok, that’s what I thought. Everyone wants a strong core, but most people don't know how to get one.

If you are doing hundreds of reps of crunch variations on the floor after your workout then you are on the wrong path. Working your abdominals in high rep isolation movements will do as much for your core strength as doing light cable chest flys would do to increase your bench press.

For a weightlifter, the most important role the core plays is to provide stability between the upper and lower body during heavy lifting. A weak lower back is going to limit your deadlift no matter how strong your hamstrings are. If your abdominals cannot create stability in a stretched position during a squat, then your lower back and hips will face unnecessary pressure while trying to stabilize your pelvis during the movement.

Related: Build Core Strength from the Ground Up

Weak obliques are going to limit the amount of weight you can safely handle on a standing DB shoulder press. There are countless other examples I could give, but by now you understand the relationship between core strength and stability during heavy lifting.

The key to core stability is not just strengthening these muscles, but getting them used to working together in compound core movements.

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If you have followed any of my past core articles here on M&S, you may have noticed that many of the movements were advanced and some even required “extreme” core strength. What I’m going to teach you today is a beginner core program, designed to take even the most “core clueless” lifter and progress them into a core master in 1 month.

Now, just because this is labeled “beginner” does not mean that the movements are easy - and most of them progress into harder versions each week. This program is a 3 day split, and although each workout works the entire core, each day focuses slightly on a different area. Day 1 focuses on the front abdominals, Day 2 focuses more on the obliques and serratus, and Day 3 targets the hips and low back.

4 Week Beginner Core Workout

The goal should be to do each workout twice per week (each week do day 1 twice, day 2 twice, and day 3 twice) by rotating through them, but make sure to listen to your body. If you are sore or your core feels fatigued, take a day off. As long as each workout is done at least once per week, you are good to go.

This program is a progression so the exercises and prescribed reps vary slightly week to week. I'll call attention to the changes.

Week 1

The exercises in week 1 are the foundation of the entire program. Some of the lifts require a bit of explanation so look for technique videos throughout.

For walk outs, start on your knees in a “push up” position. Keeping your abdominals flexed, slowly walk your hands out as far in front of you as possible (the goal is to touch your nose to the floor). Once you have reached your limit, walk back to starting position. Hit 10 total reps, then grab a light dumbbell and place it behind your head for crunches.

Related: Ready For More? Become a Plank Pro!

To wrap up Day 1, lie on a bench and grab a band attached to a rack behind you. Assume a sit up position that is far enough from the rack so there is tension on the band. Flex your abs and flatten your spine onto the bench, doing 10 reps of 3 second holds.

Day 2 starts dumbbell pullovers, a movement that is normally done during either a chest or back workout. I like to include pullovers in a core workout since, when done correctly in the Arnold “sideways across bench” style, this movement really targets the serratus and upper abs in addition to the lats, pecs, and triceps. Make sure that your hips stay lower than the bench throughout the movement.

Next up is Plate Arches, one of my favorite anti-rotational movements. When doing anti-rotational movements, your obliques are being worked to stabilize your hips and keep from rotating while resisting a force of moving weight or band tension. Grab a plate (anywhere from 10-45lbs depending on ability) and hold it at hip level with your feet at shoulder width. Slowly raise the plate up and out to your side, bring it in an arch past your face and down to the other side. Repeat back the opposite direction, keeping your core tight. Do not rotate or twist your hips.

Day 3 starts with Dead Bugs, a great exercise to strengthen and activate the rectus abdominus. Lie on your back with your head close to a wall. Lift your legs up and keep them bent at the knee, and push your spine flat onto the ground. Press your hands against the wall as you keep your abs flexed and legs hinged at the hips at least 90 degrees and shins parallel to the floor. Breathe normally and end the set early if your back arches and brings your spine off the floor.

For supermans, extend your arms out overhead and slowly contract your lower back and glutes, raising your torso and legs off of the ground slightly. Hold this position while you perform a pressing movement.

Next up is a superset of low back hyperextensions and a glute bridge. The hyperextension can be performed on a machine or by lying across a swiss ball. For the glute bridge, lie sideways across a bench in the same position as when performing a DB Pullover. Bridge your hips up, contracting your hamstrings and glutes while pushing your heels into the ground.

 

Exercise Sets x Reps
Day 1
1. Walk Outs (from knees) 10
2. DB Crunch (light DB behind head) 20
3. Plank 1 minute
4. Band Hold (on back) 10 x 3sec holds
Day 2
1. DB Pullovers 3x8
2. Plate Arches 3x5 (each side)
3. Side Bridge 20-30 sec (each side)
4. Side Bends w/ DB 3x10 (each side)
Day 3
1. Dead Bugs 3x10sec holds
2. Supermans 3x10
3a. Hyperextensions 2x10
3b. Glute Bridge 2x30 sec

Week 2

This week you will increase DB crunches to two sets of 20 reps. The static band holds will now be done in a kneeling position instead of on a bench. This variation will force you to use your hips and glutes to stabilize your body against the band tension.

On Day 2, you'll be supersetting the last 2 exercises. Try using a heavier dumbbell than you did in week 1.

On Day 3, you'll add weight to most of the exercises. Hold light (2.5-10lb plates) in your hands for the supermans and a medium weight plate (25-45lb) on your chest during the hyper extensions. Place a heavy DB or medicine ball on your hips during the Glute Bridge.

Exercise Sets x Reps
Day 1
1. Walk Outs (from knees) 10
2. DB Crunch (light DB behind head) 2x20
3. Plank 1 min
4. Band Hold (kneeling) 10x3 sec holds
Day 2
1. DB Pullovers 3x8
2. Plate Arches 3x5 (each side)
3a. Side Bridge 30 sec (each side)
3b. Side Bends w/ DB 10 (each side)
Day 3
1. Dead Bugs 3x10 sec holds
2. Supermans 3x10 w/ plates
3a. Hyperextension 3x10 w/ plates
3b. Glute Bridge 3x10 sec w/DB

Week 3

This week you'll increase the number of walk outs. You can still break that total number down into multiple sets if you'd like. On the dumbbell crunches, do them with a heavy dumbbell with your arms extended. Crunch straight up, driving the dumbbell towards the ceiling, making sure not to let it drift out in front of you. You will also superset Plank and Band Holds for two sets.

On Day 3 you will superset the dead bugs with a static 10 second hold in the superman position. Rather than doing a traditional hyperextension, you will now do a reverse hyperextension.

If your gym does not have a reverse hyper, lie face down on a bench with your hips hanging off the bench. Grab under the bench and slowly contract your lower back and straighten your legs as you raise them until they are parallel to the floor. Keep your glutes tight and hold for 1 second at the top of each rep. Here's how to do them on the bench (plus a demo of the supersetted gluted bridge):

Exercise Sets x Reps
Day 1
1. Walk Outs (from knees) 20
2. DB Crunch (heavy DB, arms extended) 2x10
3a. Plank 1 min
3b. Band Hold (kneeling) max time
Day 2
1. DB Pullovers 3x8
2. Plate Arches 3x5 (each side)
3a. Side Bridge 30 sec (each side)
3b. Side Bends w/ DB 10 (each side)
Day 3
1a. Dead Bugs 3x10 sec hold
1b. Supermans 3x10 sec hold
2a. Reverse Hyperextension 3x10 reps (on bench)
2b. Glute Bridge 3x30 sec w/ DB

Week 4

This week all exercises will be done as circuits.

At this point you should be ready to try a walk out from a push up rather than your knees. If you can’t get out very far or feel pain/pressure in your low back, you may not be ready for this variation and will need to stick to doing them from your knees for now.

On Day 2, the pullovers will be performed on a swiss ball and incorporate a crunch at the end of the movement. During Side Bends, lift your top leg up during the first 10 seconds of each 30 second hold.

On Day 3 you will hold heavy dumbbells in your hands during the Dead Bugs instead of pressing against the wall. On the Reverse Hyper, make sure to hold each rep at the top for a full three seconds. Rest at least 1 minute between each round of the circuit.

Exercise Sets x Reps
Day 1
1a. Walk Outs 3 x 5 standing (or 10 from knees)
1b. DB Crunch (heavy DB, arms extended) 3x10
1c. Plank 3x1 min
1d. Band Hold (kneeling) 3xmax time
Day 2
1a. DB Pullovers + Crunch (on swiss ball) 5x10
1b. Plate Arches 5x8 (each side)
1c. Side Bridge 5x30 sec each side, first 10 sec w/1 leg up
1d. Side Bends w/ DB 5x10 (each side)
Day 3
1a. Dead Bugs 3x 10 sec hold w/ DB
1b. Supermans 3x10 w/ plates
1c. Reverse Hyperextensions 3x10 (on bench), 3 sec hold each rep
1d. Glute Bridge 3x10 sec w/ heavy DB or barbell

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Now you have a core routine that will transform your core strength in 1 month regardless of your starting ability.

Stay tuned to Muscle & Strength for more! But warning: I just might me back to my usual core craziness in my next core challenge!

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About The Author
Coach Myers is the co-founder and owner of the Old School Gym in Pataskala, OH, as well as the strength and conditioning coach for the Ohio Regional Training Center for Olympic Wrestling.

7 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:02
BigDave

Really enjoying this I've never really trained core properly that much. Any core workout you would recommend doing after this one?

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Posted Mon, 05/16/2016 - 13:38
lawrensp

Hey Dustin, did you every post the video of the band hold? I looked on your IG but couldn't find it.

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Posted Wed, 03/09/2016 - 08:57
Frankie

Hi Dustin, I'm really looking forward to doing this program (just waiting for a nagging injury to subside). I'm just a little concerned with how to do the "Band Hold" exercises. I've been searching the internet and YouTube for videos but I'm not sure I'm finding the correct technique, especially for the "Band Hold (on back)" exercise. Any further advice would be great!!! Thanks in advance

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Posted Mon, 03/07/2016 - 16:19
Peter

Hey! How you do the band hold excercise?

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Posted Tue, 03/15/2016 - 20:20
Coach Myers

Sorry guys I realized I forgot to post that video! I will have the Band Hold up on my IG tomorrow!

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Posted Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:37
Trevor

I'm not seeing it anywhere on your IG, and the description does little to help understand the exercise. Why not just post it on here?

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Posted Tue, 02/07/2017 - 19:48
Cameron

Hey Dustin would you say the band hold is very similar to the DB crunch with resistance and balance added (on knees) and on that note would you say ropes with a pulley is a good substitution instead of elastic band? I've been increasing weight each week starting from 35lbs and it seems to be hitting the abs well with no sore back or anything.