Quickest and Easiest Way to Make Your Core Exercises Harder

When weight training or exercising, you need to gradually progressively overload your lifts in order to make progress in strength, power, etc.  Without progressive overload, whether it be increasing weight, reps, sets, eccentrics, time under tension, etc., progress will stagnate.

When it comes to core exercises, I see many people hold their planks or other exercises for a minute or two or even longer and then they are done.  Either they are done because they can’t hold it any longer or they don’t find it to be a challenge anymore.

One way I like to make core exercises harder without adding weight, reps, sets, weight, etc. is by…

BREATHING!

This sounds crazy, but until you have tried it, you won’t know how hard it is to actually hold a position and use the muscles to support you vs just holding your breath.

*DISCLAIMER*:  When performing max effort lifts such as the squat and deadlift, using your air/breath for maximal abdominal tension is key to help buttress and stabilize the spine.

When performing core exercises in your training routine, try implementing breathing in and out to make the exercises more challenging.

For example,

When performing a plank, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth while maintaining good plank technique.

Key Points:

-Maintain a neutral spine.

-As you exhale, don’t allow your hips to drop towards the ground/back to arch.

-On the flip side, don’t overcompensate and raise your hips up towards the sky.

When performing anti-rotation exercises such as an Anti-Rotation Press, perform a full exhale when in the fully pressed position.

Key Points:

-Maintain a neutral spine

-As you exhale, focus on maintaining your position.  With the exhale, the exercise will become significantly harder.

If you want to incorporate this into your routine, you can either breathe/perform a full exhale during the movement so when you are pressing away from you during an anti-rotation press or when you have attained the end position of the movement.

For example, perform a full exhale when reaching the end position of a stability ball rollout.

These are just 3 exercises where incorporating a full exhale or breathing into the exercise can make the movement that much more challenging.

Next time you are holding a plank, etc. and are holding it for a minute or longer, instead, try just breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth for 3-4 breaths for a few sets.  As you get better, increase the number of breaths or sets with breathing.

Andrew Millett