The above video is of quick workout routine that I love to do a few times per week in the morning. Ignore the icepack and piano music (I turned the workout video to pay homage to american pyscho). The purpose of the workout is to strengthen and build my core muscles and to maintain a high degree of flexibility throughout my body. Maintaining flexibility with the exercises from the video has totally eliminated my back pain.
Most of the exercises included in the video are extremely advanced and took me many months to progress to. However there are easier variations you can perform to still get a massive benefit.
Workout Routine for Abs and Flexibility
Exercise #1 – Front Levers x 5 reps
Front levers are a highly advanced gymnastic core exercise that will strengthen your entire core and lats. During front levers the entire midsection stays rigid. This effectively works your TVA muscle (transverse abdominals). A strong TVA protects your back from injury and keeps your stomach pulled in tight (no pushed out gut).
Here’s a video on how to progress to the front lever
Exercise #2 – Hanging Feet to Bar Leg Raises
Hanging feet to bar leg raises works the entire abdominal wall from top to bottom. By bringing your legs all the way up to the bar you engage the upper abdominals to a much higher degree then if you were to stop at 90 degrees. This movement requires strong lats as you must contract your lats very hard to assist bringing your feet to the bar. As your abs fatigue you will notice you start to use your lats even more (your lats work to pull your body parallel to the ground so its easier to raise your legs up). Ideally you want to focus on using your abs and less lats.
You can build up to feet to bar hanging leg raises by starting with your legs bent and crossed together. As your abs become stronger you can straighten out your legs more and more until your legs are perfectly straight.
Exercise #3 – Swinging Side to Side Bent Knee Ups
Swinging side to side bent knee ups are one of my favourite abs exercises. It destroys my abs every time and it also really develops the V CUT (the muscle that goes from the sides of your lower abs down to your package). How to get V Abs Article
This movement works very well with high repetitions (20-50 total reps = 10-30 per side).
Exercise #4 – Stand to Stand Back Bridge
The stand to stand bridge is one of my favourite exercises. This exercise has cured my back pain and increased my height by a full inch. You can read an entire article on it here – http://kinobody.com/1066/stand-to-stand-bridge-tutorial/
Exercise #5 – L sit (on finger tips)
The L sit is a tremendous exercise that requires a ton of core strength, flexibility and upper body strength. You can make the exercise even more challenging by doing it on your finger tips (I built up to this by performing push ups on my finger tips). I recommend practicing the L sit between two chairs that way you can keep your legs a little bit lower then parallel. Another great way to do them is on your knuckles – this really toughens up your hands and wrists (great for fighters). As well it keeps your butt higher off the ground so you can have a little more slack in your upper body and shoulders then if you were to do them on your hands. The back bridge stretches all the muscles on your front of your body and the L sit sufficiently stretches all the muscles on the back side of the body.
Exercise #6 – Twisting Stretch Exercise
The final exercise I perform is an advanced twisting stretch exercise. This exercise stretches your body in a rotational manner. By performing the bridge, l sit and twisting stretch you have addressed flexibility amongst your entire body. If you are very flexible then you can slide your arm through your leg and grab your hand behind your back. I’m still working on this.
The Workout Sequence
Circuit #1 – perform 3x
front levers x 5
hanging leg raises x 5
side to side bent knee ups x 10 per side (20 total)
Back Bridge x 10 second hold or 10 stand to stand
Circuit #2 – complete 3x
L Sit Hold x 10-15 seconds
Twisting Stretch x 15 seconds per side
I perform this a few times per week in the morning. In addition to strengthening my core and increasing my flexibility it is also pretty damn bad ass. I hope to have my own bodyweight strength training course in the future. We’ll see.