3 Core Exercises to Help You Ditch the Crunches

Amanda Thebe


DVRT, Nutrition, Personal Training


One of the best things about attending the annual DVRT (Ultimate Sandbag Training) Masters Summit is that I get a chance to spend time with some of the world’s best trainers. We trade ideas about how to apply the Dynamic Variable Resistance Training (DVRT) system into our own training, and how to help our clients to move and train better than ever before.


I have been using the system for four years now, and it has revolutionized my approach to exercise. I know more keenly understand joint movement, muscular sling systems, and how to create functional movement that translates directly over into our daily lives, either as athletes or general fitness practitioners.



There’s More to the Core

We have known now for a number of years that ab crunches are not ideal for core training. They have an adverse impact on lower back health, and work only on primary movers of the body, the larger muscle groups that power our movements. What DVRT does a little differently, is focus on the secondary muscle groups; the ones that stabilize and support these movements, create resistance, and allow us to get our whole trunk strong and active.


It’s time to stop thinking of the core as just a six pack. It’s so much more than that! 


After my workout today, I grabbed my USB Core Bag and performed three exercises that are a perfect example of using the full core.




Isometric Lateral Bag Pulls

We have to work on cross-patterning to make this exercise successful. That means working with opposites, so your left foot and right hand are working together actively, and vice versa. If I perform this exercise using my right hand to pull against the outside handles of the bag, then my left hand and right foot are doing a huge amount of work to drive actively into the floor. This will prevent my hips from tipping, and my core has to work really hard to resist rotation.


I chose to keep the bag still in an isometric pull, as I am on concrete. If you are on a softer surface, drag the bag along the floor for about five seconds each side.


Resisting rotation through the body has to happen before we can start adding power to a rotational movement.


Half Kneeling Push Out

By placing the body in a half-kneeling position, we create a level of instability. Before you start the exercise, brace your core and glutes so that the line from the knee on the floor all the way up to your shoulders is solid. Then grip the bag by the middle, and slightly pull apart as you drive the bag straight out in front of your body. Resist the urge to fall to the side, and use your lats to power the bag forward. If you can, hold that bag out in front of you for a second or two.


Stir the Pot

Not an easy exercise at all. Lie on your back with your legs straight out and a few inches off the ground. This will require you to have total control of your core, so if you aren’t quite there yet or you feel this in your lower back at all, simply bend your knees at a 90° angle.


Take hold of the bag by the outside handles and pull apart, which creates activation through the lats. Then make small, controlled circles just outside the line of the body. You’ll have to work hard to resist the body rotating too much, or tipping over to the side. It’s actually a lot of fun!


My good friend Cory Cripe, who is also a Master DVRT Trainer, uses the line, “trainers don’t let trainers do ab crunches.” It’s my job to encourage you to ditch those ab crunches and build a solid, active, and functional core.

Coach Amanda Thebe is Breaking Muscle's Expert Coach in Residence. If you are a woman who is over 40 years old and want Coach Thebe to cover a topic you are interested in, or would like her to address a specific issue you may have, email helpme@breakingmuscle.com. Put Coach Thebe in the subject line, and let us know what you need in your training.
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