Workout of The Week 5.16.16: Core-geous

Feature Photo:
Model: Lindsay Blair
Photographer: Dylan Fox


The word “core” is a collective term used to describe the muscles of your midsection. They include, but are not limited to the rectus abdominis, internal/external obliques, transverse abdominal, quadratus lumborum, and spinal erectors. While these muscles have their own individual functions, they also work together in almost every movement you make.

I’m frequently asked which exercises you should be doing in order to get a great looking core. Unfortunately, my answer is not what you want to hear, because a sculpted core is not built in the gym, but in the kitchen through dieting (not crunches on the counter lol). In fact, athletes with some of the most aesthetically pleasing mid-sections you’ve ever seen, may not even directly work them. This common misconception derives from the belief of “spot-training”, or the act of burning fat in a particular area by simply training it. While there may be some metabolic improvements caused by increased muscle, it’s far too inefficient to be the sole path to a shredded 6-pack.

Before you completely write-off that 10 minute abdominal workout you do at the end of your workout, you should be aware that core work still has great value. Remember, the body is not designed to look good- its designed for function. These functions include stability, strength, balance, etc. Therefore, the better your core, the easier it is to maintain good form and prevent injury. Most say you should train legs because it’s your foundation, I would disagree, your core is.



  • Abdominal bracing- while lying on your back, contract your midsection. This does not mean suck them in, this means squeeze as they are. Hint: tighten your midsection as if someone were going to punch you there.
  • Warm-up sets: perform 1-2 easier sets of the exercise so that you can become more familiar with the form and movement.

Working Sets


Oblique Kayaks: 3 Sets x Perform reps as your fitness level allows; 60s rest

Set-up: You will need a weight bar and a decline bench. Sit normally on the bench, as you would for a sit-up.

Execution: Lean back until your hips are at a 90 degree angle, you should feel the tension of your core holding your body up at this point. Hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip, and your elbows tight to your sides. Using your core, and not your arms, twist your core to resemble paddling in a kayak. Remember, your core does all the movement, not your arms!

Tips: I typically do these until I have about 20% of my energy left, at that point I use the remaining energy to perform Russian twists until just before failure.


Decline Bench Reverse Crunch: 2 sets of 10-20 reps; superset with next exercise

Set-up: You will need a decline bench, much like you did with the first exercise. You will need to lay the opposite direction.Hold on to bench above your head to keep yourself from sliding down. I typically grab the leg pads. (see pic for set-up)

Execution: Begin by contracting your core and raising your legs; knees slightly bent. Then, using your core, bend your knees and bring them to your chest until you reach a tight contraction. Then, slowly extend your legs back out to the starting position without touching the ground; repeat.

Tips: To ensure you are working your core and not just your legs (which may burn), make sure you slightly roll your hips as you crunch. This movement should be subtle, but it should be done for a quality contraction.

decline reverse crunch.jpg
Reverse crunch. Notice hips



Exercise ball DB crunch: 3 sets of 15 reps; 60s rest

Set-up: You will need a dumbbell (usually 5-15lbs will suffice), and an exercise ball. Begin by sitting on the ball, then in a controlled fashion, roll your body down until you are on your back. I typically like to position the ball so that I feel I am holding my head and shoulders up. Your feet should be wider than shoulder width for a solid base. You should hold the dumbbell behind your head, but not touching. Keep your elbows flared outward.

Execution: Begin by bracing your core, and picking a spot on the ceiling to stair at (look at head position in example). I typically like to pick one about 10 feet in front of me. Now, perform a crunch. This is not a

ball crunch
DB held behind head (not shown)

sit-up, so your hips should remain still. All the movement should be made between your chest and your hips. After you have crunched up into a solid contraction, slowly control your way back down until just below the starting position.


Tips: The particular exercise is best described by looking at the example picture. Stay on top of the ball, keep elbows wide, and only crunch at the stomach.

Back Raises: 3 sets of 15 reps; 30s rest

Set-up: You will need a lumbar extension pad, and possibly a barbell plate. Adjust the pad height so that it rests just below the crease of your hips.

Execution: Begin by contracting your core. Drop your torso using your hips until just before your back rolls. This is important, as the movement should be solely in your hips. Then, keeping your core braced, use your lower back to raise up to a straight position. A common

back raises
Straight back, movement in hips

mistake is to hyper-extend (over raise), this is unnecessary and unhealthy-avoid it.


Tips: If using weight, hold the plate firmly against your chest with a crossed-arm grip. Remember, you should avoid excessive rolling of the back. This may take practice, and may be limited to the individuals flexibility range of motion.




Last note:

  • Core workouts are funny, because a particular exercise may work greatly for one person, and not at all for another. It all comes down to the person’s body and their balances or lack there of.
  • Also, if you are new to working out, don’t be alarmed if you feel a burn in your lower back. This is usually fatigue, and will improve as you continue with future workouts.
  • Core should be done at the end of a workout, you need them for stability, so it wouldn’t be wise to fatigue them first.
  • Core should also be done every other day. Doing them daily can lead to overworking, and that can cause issues.




God gave you another day, and another healthy workout.


Kyle Blair, BS Exercise Physiology, CPT, SPT





Workout of The Week 4.19.16-Foremost Forearms


A good lifter will implement all of your typical body parts- chest, back, quads, biceps, etc.- but a great lifter will implement EVERY muscle group. There are some muscle groups that are overlooked, at least in regards to direct work. The forearms are a prime example. This is why I have made conscious effort to hit them much like any other muscle. This doesn’t mean 1-2 sets at the end of an arm workout.This means several sets of several workouts, emphasizing  each muscle and each angle. I’ve actually fixed wrist pain with clients and myself, by implementing direct work. In addition to strength/functionality, I have received more compliments on my forearm muscle than any other group (100% serious).

The forearm is made of 2 primary muscle groups, the extensors and flexors. These groups are fundamentally opposing groups, and therefore, should be treated as so. In this weeks workout, we will attack each and every point.



Typically when working forearms, I would suggest following a larger upper body muscle group, so a warm-up is not really needed. However, I would suggest the lifter to perform a lighter set of each movement before getting to it.

Working Sets

Standing DB Wrist Curls: 3 sets x 20 reps; 60s rest

Set-up: You will need a pair of dumbbells that you would normally bicep curl with moderate ease.


Part-A: Stand and hold the dumbbells at your side,  and slowly unroll your grip until the handle rolls to the middle joint of your finger. Then, in a somewhat explosive  manner, curl your fingers and wrist back up until you can no longer. – 10 reps

Part-B: After completing the first 10 reps, immediately begin this step. Instead of opening your fingers, keep your grip tight. With the tight grip, curl your wrist inward, much like the top half of the first part– 10 reps

Tips: This is not an ego lift. So grab a pair of dumbbells you can control efficiently. Due to the high rep nature, its easy to just go through these curls mindlessly, but you should avoid that. Instead, make each and every rep count!


Barbell Forearm Preacher Extensions: 3 sets x 15 reps; super-set with next exercise

Set-up: you will need a preacher curl, or a bench. I would highly suggest the preacher curl in a busy gym. If you use a flat bench during busy hours, EVERYONE WILL HATE YOU lol. You will also need a barbell with non-rolling plates- this is crucial. I usually use those pre-set bars most decent gyms have. You should place your forearms so that there is as little wrist overhang as possible, but still allowing the fist to move completely up and down.

wrist ext.gif
Preacher wrist extension



Execution: Grab the bar with an unwrapped thumb grip. Allow your tightly gripped wrists to drop as low as possible. Then, extend them until neutral or SLIGHTLY above. Repeat

Tips: This does not require much weight at all. Even at my strongest, the most I would ever use is 40lbs, and even that was a struggle. To crank the intensity, pause for 1-2 seconds at the peak of each extension.

DB Wrist Twists: 3 sets x 30 second bouts; 90 seconds rest

Set-up: You will need a lighter pair of dumbbells. Usually somewhere in the 5-20lbs range. You want to stand with your arms bent at 90 degrees, and elbows tight to your sides. Your thumb should be tight to the top of the DB for maximal results.

Execution: While keeping your arms at 90 degrees, twist your wrists inward and outward as if you were continually showing someone the top and bottom of your wrists. Emphasize the squeeze in each direction, do not just haphazardly spin around.

Tips: This exercise is more so for the inward twist, than the outward. I find it more beneficial if I focus on that direction to a much greater degree. Your biceps will also receive some indirect work, so expect it.


Pipe 2-Way Roll-ups: 2 sets of both direction; 90s rest

Set-up: This is a trickier set-up, and may not even be possible for some. You will need a bar/pipe and a rope/string of some sort (I-1). Ideally, you should thread the rope through a hole in the center. If not possible, you can just tie it around; you will just need to pre-roll to keep it from slipping. You would be surprised with how many gyms have these set-ups, so ask first

pipe and plate.jpg

(if they think you’re crazy, sorry in advance). This may sound ridiculous but it is my absolute favorite forearm exercise.



Part-A: With your arms straight out, begin winding the rope up in the same direction as the preacher extensions. Continue to wind it until the top. Then, reverse the direction in the same controlled manner.


Part-B: With your arms straight out, wind the rope up by curling your wrists inward. Control it all the way up, and all the way down.

pipe roll-up

Tips: When rolling it up, do not simple “shuffle”. Instead, each wind should be done by grabbing as far as you can, and twisting back as much as you can. Imagine an “X” is drawn at the top of the bar, and each wind should bring the “X” all the way around.


This concludes the forearm workout. If the pump is so great that you can only feel your fingers; you’re welcome. This is a great workout to pair with back, biceps, and calves.



Perform each stretch 2-3 times for 10-20 seconds.

forearm stretch
Click to enlarge



God gave you another day, and another healthy workout.


Kyle Blair, BS Exercise Physiology, CPT, SPT