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Abdominal Exercises
Double Cable Rotations For Superior Abs
Prone Swiss Ball Rolls For Developing Strong Core Muscles
5 Sandbag Exercises For Rock Hard Abs
Trunk Twists With A Twist - Tighten Your Love Handles Now!
Bench Press Leg Raise Crunches For Lower Abs
Crunch Pulldowns For a Great Six-Pack
Two Exercises With a Twist For Rock-Hard Obliques and Explosive Core Power
Seated Les Raises - A New Approach To An Old Favorite
2 Dumbbell Swings For a "Steel Corset" Core
The Best Ab Exercise You Never Heard Of

Ab & Core Workouts
The New Method For Six Pack Abs
Build 3-Dimensional Abs In 2010
The Effectiveness Of Sand Bag Training For Abdominals
How To Get 6 Pack Abs & Lose Stomach Fat
Workout Complexes For Hardness & Conditioning
Old School Workouts To Develop Granite Hard Abdominals
The 3 Best Abdominal Exercises that Are Not Abdominal Exercises!
2 Challenging Exercises For Powerful Rock Hard Abs
How To Get Six Pack Abs Using Neglected Cable Exercises
Attack Your Abs With These Underground Power Moves
Killer Abs At Home In 12 Minutes

Recent Ab Training Articles
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Punch Proof Abdominals: How To Get Abs Like A Pro Boxer
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Core Training For Martial Arts: Abs Like Bruce Lee!

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Ask the Ab Guru
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Core Training For Martial Arts
By Alwyn Cosgrove

With a million and one possible topics about physical preparation for martial arts I was totally lost as to where to start. What should the first article I write for the website be on?

I had no idea. Speed training? Flexibility? Improve your kicking? Improve your grappling? What would be of most interest to the readers?

In short, what would lie at the core of a martial arts training article? And here we are...

CORE training for martial arts - The CORE is the key!

By core, I am referring to the mid section of the body, as most of you realize, this is where all the power in kicks, punches and throws is generated. Basically if you improve core stability and strength, you will improve your martial arts ability across the board. So if you never read another article that I write, putting into practice the principles outlined here will help your performance as a martial artist no end.

Bruce Lee - Ripped AbsA rock hard rippling stomach like Bruce Lee showed off sends out a very powerful signal about not only your condition, but also that you will most probably hit hard. True, there are fighters out there who are built like the proverbial Clark Kent yet hit like Tyson, but I've met very few who look like Tyson and can't hit.

In spite of the attention that "abs of steel" training devices and programs seem to get on late night infomercials - it is a relatively misunderstood body part. Most people flat out do not know how to train the abdominals!

Even the highly renowned TKD Master who was seen telling all of the benefits of a small jet plane looking plastic gadget to build his powerful abdominal wall. Trust me ladies and gentlemen, the Ab plane or whatever it was called did not work. It still doesn't. And it won't in the future. Master Abs obviously had another agenda when he decided to share this secret with the world.

To design an abdominal training workout we need to take a closer look at the underlying physiology of the abs. The rectus abdominus (to give it it's proper name) can flex the trunk forward about 30 degrees but at this point any further movement is produced by the hip flexor muscles, not the abs. However, the rectus abdominus ALSO works through 15 degrees of spinal extension.

In English? - Laying on a flat floor doing crunches is a woefully inadequate method of training the abs. Also - training on a flat surface may increase the curvature at the base of the spine, putting many of the weaker structures of the lower back at risk of injury - perhaps not a problem while lying down on the floor - but obviously not what you are looking for in the midst of a highly competitive bout of free sparring!

What Is The Solution?
Swiss balls, great for abdominal and core training
So what is the solution? Swiss Balls! Those inflatable giant cheesy poofs that you have probably seen lying around the gym or in the Physical Therapy office. Laying on these balls will allow a FULL range of motion during abdominal crunches - and brings the concept of instability into action. The more unstable the exercise - the more effective the transfer to a real world activity (like a fight!) will be.

Think about it - Which is harder - free weights or machines ? And which is harder still - dumbbells or barbells ? Basically you can see that the more unstable the exercise, the harder it is to perform and generally the less weight will be used. Therefore the transfer of an unstable exercise to a real life sporting activity is very high.

Another myth of abdominal training is the fact that abs require daily training, thousands of reps and zero resistance. Is there something about the abdominals that the underlying muscle tissue does not respond to the laws of human physiology?

great_absMost of you may be surprised to hear that the abdominals are in fact composed of primarily fast-twitch fibers - and therefore performing more than 15 reps per set (or around a 40 second time under tension) will probably reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. And ADD WEIGHT! Once your body weight is not enough resistance then you are going to have to use dumbbells or plates of some sort to increase the load, just like any other muscle group.

So having established the need to train the abdominals full range, with weight, low reps and as unstable as possible - what do we do now, I hear you cry? Fear not, provided below is an outline of a four-week abdominal strength training program. We will start with more traditional training methods and make an easy progression to the more effective exercises described above. Try to perfom the exercises slowly and correctly and perform each routine twice a week.

Week One

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Period
A1 - Reverse Crunch 3 15 2010 30 seconds
Superset with
A2 Crunch 3 10 2220 30 seconds
B Oblique Crunch 2 15 l & r 2010 60 seconds

Week Two

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Period
A1 - Reverse Crunch 3 10 2120 30 seconds
Superset with
A2 Swiss ball Crunch (full range ) 3 10 2220 30 seconds
B- Woodchop exercise (with cable) 2 15 l & r 2010 60 seconds

Week Three

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Period
A1 - Reverse Crunch (on ball) 3 6 3030 30 seconds
Superset with
A2 Swiss ball Crunch (full range  add resistance via dumbbell on upper chest) 3 10 2210 30 seconds
B- Woodchop exercise 2 15 l & r 2010 60 seconds

Week Four





Rest Period

A - Reverse Twisting Crunch (on ball)


6 l and r


30 seconds

B1-Swiss ball Twisting Crunch (full range  add resistance via dumbbell on upper chest)


6 left & right


30 seconds

B- Reverse Woodchop

2 10 l & r 30x0 60 seconds

* To read more about Alwyn's books and videos that contain detailed instructions and photos of these and many other core and abdominal exercises, visit:

About Alwyn Cosgrove

Alwyn cosgrove, martial arts conditioning expert

For the past sixteen years Alwyn Cosgrove has been committed to achieving excellence in the field of fitness training and athletic preparation. Specializing in performance enhancement, Alwyn has helped countless individuals and athletes reach their goals through sound scientific training.

Born in Scotland and initially exposed to fitness training through an intense competitive sport martial arts background, Alwyn began reading and studying any training related material he could get his hands on. This led to formal academic studies in Sports Performance at West Lothian College and then progressed on to receiving an honors degree in Sports Science from Chester College, the University of Liverpool. Alwyn is also certified with distinction as a strength & conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and has been recognized as a Master of Sports Sciences with the International Sports Sciences Association.

Alwyn is also recognized and certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, the British Association of Sports And Exercise Sciences, Kingsports International Australia, the Society for Weight Training Injury Specialists, USA Weightlifting and the Chek Insitute of Corrective High Performance Exercise Kinesiology.

A former Taekwon-do international champion , Alwyn has utilized his personal experience as an athlete and combined it with the advanced theories of European Sports Science and the principles of modern strength and conditioning systems.

Through the years in this field Alwyn has been recognized as a specialist in Athletic Preparation by The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia and has studied extensively each country’s different approaches to athletic preparation.

During his career as a strength and conditioning coach, Alwyn has worked with a wide variety of clientele, including several Olympic and national level athletes, five World Champions and professionals in a multitude of sports including boxing, martial arts, soccer, ice skating, football, fencing, triathlon, rugby, bodybuilding, dance and fitness competition.

A sought after ‘expert’ for several of the country’s leading publications including a monthly column in Men’s Fitness magazine, Alwyn is available to develop physical preparation programs to take you to a new level of development. You can visit Alwyn's "Science Of Total Training" website and see his entire line of strength & conditioning products and services here:

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