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Target the core to get lean and strong

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat.

Many exercises that are undertaken on the gym floor using equipment or weights are about building strength or size. When exercising the abs, which are in themselves a crucial set of muscles for a robust and active life, the preferred outcomes are more focused on strength and definition around the central part of the body.

A lot of abs exercises can be delivered at the gym (or indeed at home, or at an outdoor location!) and these can usually be combined into a helpful abs combo.

Below is one of my favourite abs combo routines with a focus on core strength, whilst also limiting the amount of equipment needed to deliver the exercises in question.

Want strong and lean abs?

Then try out this simple combo!


Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat.

The V-sit is an effective way to target the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques and hip flexors while improving core and trunk balance.

Building your core strength, balance and coordination can help maintain good posture and perform a variety of physical activities better.

Step by step:

  1. Begin in a seated position with hands and feet on the floor.

  2. Contract your abdominal muscles and core slowly, then lift your legs to an extended position at a 45-degree angle with your torso.

  3. Reach your arms straight forward or reach up toward your shins.

  4. It is important to maintain a good core posture and a strong spine throughout this movement and to avoid rounding the shoulders.

  5. Hold this V-shaped position for several seconds (as you get stronger, hold the position longer).

  6. Return slowly to your starting position while continuing to keep your abs engaged and tight.

  7. Just before you reach the floor, stop and hold the position for a few seconds.

  8. Repeat this entire movement for 3 x sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Abs crunch machine

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat.

Ab crunch machines are designed to target the abs and obliques. By learning how to use these effectively, you will be on your way to having strong abs.

Getting results with an abs crunch machine comes down to using the machine efficiently and safely, working your abs 2–3 times per week, allowing suitable recovery time, and slowly increasing the volume and weight of your exercises over time.

Step by step:

  1. Make sure that the seat’s height is correctly adjusted to your body so that your shoulders rest back comfortably on the padding.

  2. Select the weight load that you want to use and insert the pin into the corresponding hole.

  3. Flex your core, push against the padded lever and bend forward at the waist.

  4. Your hips should stay in the seat at all times.

  5. Try to move in a slow, controlled manner.

  6. Breathe in as you come back to the starting position and finish the movement.

  7. The repetition is complete when your body returns to an upright position.

  8. Repeat this entire movement for 3 x sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Exercise wheel

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat.

Using an exercise wheel regularly is a great way to develop and maintain a healthy core. Though perhaps not the most glamorous piece of gym equipment, an exercise wheel is very helpful in maintaining a strong core.

Step by step:

  1. Start on both knees with the exercise wheel just in front of the body on the floor.

  2. Tighten the core with arms fully extended and slowly roll the wheel forward until your body is parallel to the ground.

  3. Squeeze your core tight, without your back arching, roll yourself back to the starting position and repeat.

  4. Repeat this entire movement for 3 x sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Plank leg lift

Personal Trainer Julien Bertherat.

The plank leg lift exercise primarily exercises the core muscle group, as well as the glutes, hamstrings and quads. It is a useful exercise to master if you want to strengthen the core and lower body muscle groups. This exercise can also be undertaken without any equipment.

Whilst delivering this exercise, remember to keep your core tight, your glutes engaged, maintain your back flat and keep your hips level. The principle of the exercise is to lift your leg, so be careful not to arch your back, and hold for as long as you can when you deliver it.

Step by step:

  1. Start in a low plank position with your body in a straight line, your elbows bent under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.

  2. Lift your left leg to a 45-degree angle and hold.

  3. Switch legs and repeat.

  4. Repeat this entire movement for 3 x sets of 10-12 repetitions.

If you are new to these kinds of exercises, aim to build confidence and strength incrementally as you undertake this combo and gauge which levels of resistance and repetition to use.

As always, if you would like advice on these combos, get in touch.


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