Exercises You Should Be Doing: These 2 Brutal Core Exercises

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Fair warning: the two exercises described below seem easy to perform and kinda give off the “huh, that’s it?” vibe.

But trust me, they suck.

They suck hard.

Like, really suck.

Okay, you get the point.


I’d like to preface this by saying I’m not a fan of the term “core training.” Some coaches like to play the uppity card and say such and such exercise “trains your core,” but in my view, everything, to some capacity, trains or hits the core.

  • When you deadlift you train your core.
  • When you perform a set of push-ups you train your core.
  • When you Sparta kick someone in the kidney for talking during a movie you train your core.

Your core is namely made up of everything that’s not your appendages (arms, legs) and it’s responsible, mostly, for transferring force from your lower extremity to your upper extremity (and vice versa), and also for helping you look hella good in a bathing suit.

Another way to think about things is that your core is this interconnected “web” of muscles and connective tissue that’s designed to resist force or prevent “unwanted” motion.

There’s a bit more to it than that, but all in all…….there you go.

There are a million and one different ways to train your core. Personally, I am not someone who says “well, if you deadlift and squat that’s all the core training you need.”

I think that’s a very narrow-minded and reductionistic way of viewing things. Most people are very good compensators and I’ve seen some very strong individuals struggle mightily when asked to perform a deadbug

Conversely, I do feel we should include “core-specific” exercises into our training arsenal; but exercises that take all of the above into account.

Give these a try.

Hollow Position Landmines


Who Did I Steal It From: Strength coach and my ice-cream eating BFF, Ben Bruno.

What Does It Do: I LOVE hollow position holds to help people learn and appreciate what it REALLY means to get (and maintain) full-body tension.1

Adding in the landmine adds a stability and anti-rotatory component that kicks things up a notch.

Key Coaching Cues: Watch THIS video if you’re unfamiliar on how to perform a basic hollow hold.

Also, and this should go without saying, if you’re unable to perform a hollow body hold, master that before attempting this exercise.

Set up the landmine so that you’re holding the barbell just above sternum level and assume the hollow body position. From there rotate the barbell side to side trying to limit movement in your torso and hips as much as possible; a little is okay (and will likely be the case for most people).

This is a self-limiting exercise in that you should only use whatever ROM you have available and that you can control. As you become more accustomed to the exercise and the novelty wears off, you should be able to access more range of motion.

I like to perform anywhere from 5-10 repetitions/side.

Foam Roller Rollouts


Who Did I Steal This From: My bald brother in arms, Dr. John Rusin.

What Does It Do: Much like other rollout variations this is a superb exercise that trains the anterior core musculature, albeit, specifically, trains anti-extension.

As an added bonus, we could also make a case this is a great exercise to hit the Serratus Anterior. So, anyone who needs to work on their scapular upward rotation….you’re welcome.

Key Coaching Cues: Assume a strict plank position with forearms on top of a foam roller:

  • Abs and glutes engaged.
  • I like to start people with their hips a liiiiitle higher (so as they fatigue they end up in a “neutral” spine position).

Begin with a slight retraction in the shoulder blades and then protract/abduct away from the foam roller. From there “push” the foam roller forward/backward in a manner that allows you to maintain proper spinal position (there shouldn’t be any excessive over-arching or rounding of the back).

Be sure to MAINTAIN scapular protraction throughout the duration of the set.

You can perform this exercise for time (start at 10 seconds and work up to 30. I see no reason to go above that number) or for repetitions (10-20).

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. This is a fun game I like to play with people when they brag about how they can hold a 5 minute plank or something ridiculous like that. I’ll have them perform a hollow body hold or RKC plank (and watch them begin to shake after ten seconds).

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