Are you ready to begin your calisthenics journey but wondering where to start? Well, if you know anything about calisthenics, it’s primarily centered around core strength, stability, and mobility.
Why? Because without extreme core strength and control, most calisthenics movements would not be able to be performed.
That’s why starting by strengthening your core, abdominal region, and overall posterior chain is everything but mandatory! As they say, “the core is the heart of all movement.”
So what is the core? While many simply believe that doing 100 crunches will result in a six-pack, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
By definition, the core is “the structure that makes up the limbo-pelvic-hip complex, including the lumbar spine, pelvic girdle, abdomen, and the hip joint.”
You can tell by this definition that you don’t need to be an exercise science/anatomy major to notice that the core is more than just your six-pack.
With that said, your sorry sit-ups aren’t going to cut it, especially if you plan to become an elite at calisthenics movements.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing 5 of the best core calisthenics Ab workouts that you can do to build strength. We’ll also throw in a sample workout plan and a few tips along the way!
Five of the Best Core Calisthenics Ab Workouts
It’s important to preface this section by stating that to strengthen your core, you don’t need to get fancy.
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You just have to remain consistent. You don’t need 20 variations of exercises to choose from and to work out every day. And you certainly don’t need a dedicated calisthenics ab workout as you would for a back or chest workout.
A simple, consistent, and effective 20-minute routine three times per week will do the trick.
As an alternative, you can also incorporate short bursts of core work within your workout of other muscle groups.
Lastly, you should also choose multi-jointed movements and involve the core in coordination with other muscle groups.
Without further ado, here are the five best calisthenics ab exercises:
- Hollow Rock
- Dragon Flies
- Superman Hold
While there are certainly more exercises out there that are just as effective and others that are more complex to execute, these five are not only great for all levels and provide enough difficulty for everyone, but they also provide a foundation for all the complex movements in calisthenics, which has a carryover for future success.
1. The Plank
The plank is a staple in any core workout regimen, and if it isn’t, this should be your wake-up call that it should be.
While it can be considered a baseline exercise accessible for everybody, it remains to be the flagship core exercise, and for a good reason.
It builds stability throughout the abdominal region, builds strength throughout the posterior chain, and provides a foundation that will have a considerable carryover effect in every calisthenics movement you perform in the future, no matter how easy or complex.
As with any exercise you perform, you should always aim to perform optimally and correctly. So, here’s how to execute the perfect plank:
- To get into a plank position, we face down, forearms and toes supporting our body weight
- Tuck in the chick, elbows, and pelvis, and extend your legs
- Get your body into a hollow body position, and squeeze
Again, the plank can be an essential tool in your toolbox when it comes to calisthenics. It will have massive carryover in movements like the frog hold, planche, lever raise, and more, and will also carry over indirectly into every exercise imaginable.
Here’s the correct way to perform a plank:
2. The Hollow Rock
The hollow rock, or hollow hold, whichever you prefer, is much like the inverse of a plank. It will have a similar effect and sensation and will also provide similar results. The only difference here would be the increase in stability.
With a hollow rock, there is now another variable to consider, and that is movement. When you incorporate shifts in movement, it not only remains a core stimulant but now also requires counterbalance.
Here’s how to perform a perfect hollow rock:
- This time, we begin to face up, lying on our back.
- To engage, we extend our arms straight behind our head and our feet as far away from the torso as possible.
- Now, raise or body up slightly towards a V-shape while simultaneously keeping your lower back to the ground, leaving no gap to be seen.
- We can now rock back and forth while maintaining a stable, balanced position.
- If you don’t yet have the ability or strength to rock, simply hold.
In my opinion, the hollow rock is largely the most effective core calisthenics exercise out there. Try it, and you’ll know what I mean.
Curious as to what a hollow rock is and how to perform it? Here’s a great video:
With the ab rollouts, you’ll need a roller. So in this case, you’ll need some equipment. Nonetheless, it’s a very accessible and affordable piece of equipment, and if calisthenics and core strength mean enough to you, it’ll be well worth your investment.
Rollouts are performed from a standing starting position, initiating the movement by bending down and nearly touching your toes. From there, you keep your legs straight and roll forward. In essence, the goal would be to have the strength to roll all the way parallel to the floor, nearly touching your nose to the ground.
This, however, is a lofty goal and will take some time.
Here’s a great video on the “do’s and don’ts” of ab rollouts:
4. Dragon Flies
The dragonfly exercise involves the individual performing it to lay flat on the ground and find a sturdy surface or bar of sorts to hold on to with both hands. With straight legs, the individual would lift his hips and pelvis to the sky, resulting in the legs also kicking up to the sky.
It’s a challenging exercise; however, once mastered, one can see tremendous results from it, both in strength, mobility, and aesthetics.
Here’s an excellent video for reference on how to perform and how to modify:
5. The Superman Hold
Superman’s are often ignored because of their simplicity and “boring” nature. In short, those that don’t truly appreciate these movements simply don’t understand the tremendous benefits they could receive by consistently implementing the superman pose into their workout regimen.
The Superman is a highly effective, whole-body movement that benefits the entire musculature of the body, stabilizes posture, strengthens your core and overall posterior chain, and requires no equipment.
Here’s how we execute the perfect Superman:
- Lay on the floor in a pronated position, face down, and legs/arms fully extended.
- Engaging your back, glutes, and core, begin to lift your arms and legs off of the floor. All else kept neutral (easier said than done).
- And hold. After a prescribed amount of time, slowly release and repeat.
In addition to the standard Superman, there are variations of this pose that can doubly benefit your calisthenics skills.
Consider looking into “the W,” Alternating Superman, and a Medicine Ball Superman if you’re looking for that extra difficulty.
Here’s a great tutorial on how to perform the superman hold correctly:
Sample Calisthenics Ab Workout
|Hollow Rock||45 seconds||4|
|Superman Hold||30 seconds||4|
In this sample workout provided, it’s worth noting that it’s programmed for an intermediate-level athlete.
The reason for this is so that both the beginner and the advanced athlete can tailor it up or down, respectively. Whether that be adding progressions to make each move more difficult, increasing or decreasing the time under tension, or playing with the number of sets performed, this workout is excellent for all levels.
As you can tell, this workout is a quick one. Our core doesn’t need the same stimulus as, say, the back or chest. Why? Because our core is activated in all aspects of our day, in almost all movements. So a 20-minute calisthenics Ab workout 3-4 times per week will most definitely do the trick.
Calisthenics Ab Workout Conclusion
Abdominal strength is imperative to master if you want to become any type of calisthenics athlete, even if you are just a beginner.
It carries over to every single movement you’ll ever perform, and it will make you great at them the stronger core you have. Without it, you’re truly limited in what you’ll be able to accomplish.
In addition, having a solid core also prevents long-term injury!
If you’re a beginner, start with these five exercises and progress over the days, weeks, and months by adding reps, sets, time under tension, and variables to each movement for an added level of difficulty.
Soon enough, you’ll be a pro!
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