No B.S. Core Training

Pretty much everyone has been bombarded at some point by an advertisement talking about the newest ab routine as the best way to “tighten your midsection”, “melt away fat”, and “get rock hard abs”. For the most part, they are all the same, all variations on the basic crunch exercise.


There are very few muscle groups in the human body that are more attention grabbing than the “abs”. While a chiseled midsection my be very aesthetically pleasing, the musculature of the core holds the key for long term strength and stability of our body.

Building yourself a well-trained, healthy core is vital for injury prevention, posture, functional capabilities, and athletic performance.  The core provides the framework for total body strength,, power, endurance, mobility and longevity … the list goes on. 

Anatomy of the Core

Before we get into some specific exercise to train your core more efficiently, lets review the four abdominal layers and their unique functions.

Anterior core anatomy includes major muscles like the Rectus Abdominis, External Abdominal Oblique, Internal Abdominal Oblique and Transverse Abdominis. Minor muscles that can play a major role in the core’s performance include the Serratus Anterior, Psaos and the other hip flexors.

Posterior core anatomy includes he spinal erectors, the Quadratus Lumborum, Glute Med, Min & Max, Pelvic Floor muscles and Latissimus Dorsi.

It's important to remember the diaphragm and its effect on our breathing, spinal position and torso mobility.

Training all of these muscles WILL develop a stronger, more functional, that looks as good as it perfroms.

For the sake of simplicity, when we discuss the abdominals, we're essentially discussing four muscle groups: the rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, and transverse abdominus.

Each these regions has a specific function, lets review:

  • Rectus abdominus - trunk flexion, posterior tilting of pelvis

  • External obliques - opposite side rotation, same side bending, trunk flexion or posterior tilting of pelvis.

  • Internal obliques - same side rotation, same side bending, trunk flexion

  • Transverse abdominus - Abdominal "hollowing"

Categories of Core Training

We reviewed the four layers of the abdominal wall, now lets look at the function of the core a little deeper and break our training down into 3 categories:

  1. Anti-Extension: Any exercise to resist extension at the spine.
  2. Anti-Rotation/Lateral Flexion: Any exercise to resist rotation and lateral flexion at the lumbar spine.
  3. Anti-Flexion: Any exercise to resist flexion at the spine.

While many of you are focusing the majority of your ab training on trunk flexion movements (e.g. crunches), you should be working these other categories into your training.

Here are some of my favorite core training techniques to build a stronger, more chiseled midsection that performs at the highest level!

about the author

Dr. Dale Bartek

Dale Bartek is a Physical Therapist and performance enhancement specialist with nearly a decade of elite-level training experience and advanced skills in manual therapy and functional dry needling.

Dale is currently working at Fyzical SPORTS in Las Vegas, Nevada where he has helped treat some of the world's top athletes including MLB All-Stars, Olympic Gold Medalists, and top NCAA athletes from around the country.

Dale is committed to continued learning and helping people achieve their physical therapy, fitness, performance and personal goals. He has a strong passion for baseball and weight training with a vision of combining high performance strength training principles, elite sports performance physical therapy, and pain free training approaches to revolutionize the way athletes look, feel, function and perform.