These 3 advanced barbell core exercises will help you add variety and new challenges to your training and workouts.
Make sure to breathe and brace, as well as move in a controlled way at all times.
1 Offset Barbell Deadlift (Hold)
- Establish control at all times
- Keep shoulders level
2 Standing Oblique Crunch
- The closer your feet are together, the harder it will be
- Keep your core tight
- Control your breathing
- Go slow and don’t let momentum do any of the work
3 Barbell Rotational Strut
- Keep your biceps and core braced
- Move slowly and with purpose
You can find deeper technique tips in the video from Critical Bench below.
Video – 3 Advanced Barbell Core Exercises
Why are Healthy and Strong Core Muscles Important?
Healthy and strong core muscles play a crucial role in overall physical fitness and well-being. Here are several reasons why they are important:
Stability and balance: The core muscles, including the deep abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles, provide stability and balance to the body. A strong core helps maintain proper posture, improves balance, and reduces the risk of falls or injuries.
Injury prevention: A well-developed core can help prevent injuries by providing support to the spine and other joints. It helps distribute the forces of movement efficiently, reducing the strain on individual muscles or joints and minimizing the risk of strains, sprains, or other musculoskeletal injuries.
Functional movements: Core muscles are involved in almost all physical activities, whether it’s lifting objects, bending, twisting, or even simple tasks like standing or sitting. A strong core enhances your ability to perform these movements with ease and reduces the risk of back pain or other discomfort during everyday activities.
Sports performance: Many sports and physical activities require a strong core for optimal performance. Whether it’s running, jumping, throwing, or rotational movements, a strong and stable core enhances power, agility, and overall athletic performance.
Posture and spinal health: Weak core muscles can lead to poor posture and increased stress on the spine. This can result in chronic back pain, muscle imbalances, and even spinal conditions over time. Strong core muscles help maintain proper alignment and support the spine, reducing the risk of back problems.
Abdominal aesthetics: Strong core muscles contribute to a toned and defined midsection. While the appearance of six-pack abs is often associated with a strong core, the benefits go beyond aesthetics, providing functional strength and stability to the entire body.
What are the Muscles of the Core?
The core is a complex network of muscles that work together to provide stability, support, and movement to the spine, pelvis, and torso. The primary muscles of the core include:
- Rectus abdominis: Located in the front of the abdomen, this is the most well-known core muscle. It runs vertically and is responsible for flexing the trunk and creating the “six-pack” appearance.
- Transverse abdominis: This deep abdominal muscle lies beneath the rectus abdominis and wraps around the torso like a corset. It provides stability to the spine and plays a key role in core stability and control.
- Internal and external obliques: These muscles are located on the sides of the abdomen and are responsible for rotating and bending the torso. The internal obliques are deeper and help with core stability, while the external obliques are more superficial and assist with trunk rotation.
- Multifidus: A group of small muscles that run along the spine, the multifidus muscles provide stability and support to the vertebral column. They help with spinal extension, rotation, and maintaining proper alignment of the spine.
- Erector spinae: This group of muscles, including the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis, runs along the length of the spine. They assist with spinal extension, lateral flexion, and maintaining upright posture.
- Diaphragm: The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the ribcage. It plays a crucial role in breathing by contracting and relaxing to facilitate inhalation and exhalation. It also contributes to core stability and posture.
- Pelvic floor muscles: These muscles are located at the bottom of the pelvis and form a supportive hammock-like structure. They help control bladder and bowel function, provide stability to the pelvis, and play a role in sexual function.
- Gluteal muscles: The gluteal muscles, including the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, are located in the buttocks. They assist in hip extension, rotation, and stabilization of the pelvis, which is important for maintaining proper alignment of the spine and core stability.
The core muscles also include other deeper muscles, such as the quadratus lumborum, psoas major, and the deep pelvic floor muscles. All these muscles work in synergy to provide stability, strength, and mobility to the core region.
How Much Do Olympic Barbells Weigh?
Olympic barbells used in weightlifting competitions and training typically weigh 20 kilograms or 44 pounds for men. These bars are standardized and meet the specifications set by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) for men’s weightlifting events.
For women’s weightlifting, the standard Olympic barbell weighs 15 kilograms or 33 pounds. Women’s barbells have a slightly smaller diameter and are designed to accommodate the anatomical differences and grip preferences of female athletes.
It’s important to note that these are the standard weights for Olympic barbells used in official competitions. However, there are also training barbells available that weigh less, typically around 15 kilograms for men and 10 kilograms for women. These lighter bars are often used by beginners, youth athletes, or individuals who are focusing on technique development before progressing to heavier weights.
What are the Optimal Reps and Sets for Building Muscle?
The optimal number of repetitions (reps) and sets for building muscle can vary depending on several factors, including individual goals, training experience, and the specific exercise being performed. However, here are some general guidelines that are commonly used:
Repetitions (Reps): To promote muscle growth (hypertrophy), it is typically recommended to perform 8-12 reps per set. This rep range targets the muscle fibers responsible for muscle size and development. It is important to choose a weight that challenges you within this rep range, where the last 1-2 reps should feel challenging but still doable with proper form.
Sets: For muscle growth, it is common to perform 3-5 sets per exercise. This allows for adequate volume and stimulation of the muscles. Beginners might start with fewer sets and gradually increase the volume as they progress.
Rest Periods: Rest periods between sets can also influence muscle growth. Resting for around 1-2 minutes between sets allows for sufficient recovery and replenishment of energy stores. Longer rest periods (2-3 minutes) may be required for heavy compound exercises or when lifting near-maximal loads.
Progressive Overload: It’s important to progressively increase the challenge placed on your muscles over time to continue building muscle. This can be achieved by gradually increasing the weight lifted, the number of reps performed, or the number of sets completed. Progressive overload stimulates muscle adaptation and growth.
Variation: Incorporating a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups can be beneficial for overall muscle development. This ensures that all major muscle groups are adequately trained.
Individualization: Keep in mind that everyone’s response to training can vary, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust the training parameters accordingly. Some individuals might find that they respond better to higher or lower reps and sets, so it can be beneficial to experiment and find what works best for you.
Remember, building muscle is a gradual process that requires consistency, proper nutrition, and sufficient recovery.
Why is Good Quality Sleep Vital for Muscle Recovery?
Good quality sleep is vital for muscle recovery for several reasons:
- Hormonal regulation: During sleep, the body releases important hormones that play a key role in muscle recovery and growth. Growth hormone (GH), in particular, is released in higher amounts during deep sleep and stimulates tissue growth and repair. Testosterone, another hormone essential for muscle development, is also released during sleep. Sufficient sleep helps maintain optimal hormone levels, supporting muscle recovery processes.
- Protein synthesis: Sleep is a time when the body engages in protein synthesis, which is crucial for repairing and building new muscle tissue. Adequate sleep allows for efficient utilization of dietary protein, helping to repair damaged muscle fibres and enhance muscle growth.
- Muscle glycogen replenishment: During exercise, muscles deplete glycogen stores, which are the primary fuel source for intense physical activity. Sleep provides an opportunity for glycogen replenishment, as the body’s energy resources are restored during restful sleep. Sufficient glycogen stores are important for optimal muscle function and recovery.
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress: Intense exercise can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress in the muscles. Sleep acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant process, helping to reduce inflammation and neutralize oxidative stress. By allowing the body to recover and repair, sleep promotes a more favourable environment for muscle healing.
- Central nervous system recovery: Along with physical recovery, sleep is crucial for the recovery of the central nervous system. During sleep, the brain and spinal cord undergo repair and restoration, ensuring proper functioning of the neuromuscular system. Adequate rest supports optimal motor control, coordination, and overall muscle performance.
- Mental well-being and motivation: Quality sleep contributes to mental well-being, mood stability, and motivation. A rested mind is better equipped to handle the physical and mental demands of training, allowing for a more focused and effective workout. Additionally, good sleep positively influences one’s attitude towards exercise and adherence to a training program.
To optimize muscle recovery through sleep, aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Establish a regular sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and prioritize sleep hygiene practices such as avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime, minimizing exposure to electronic screens, and ensuring a cool, dark, and quiet sleep environment.
By prioritizing good sleep, you can support optimal muscle recovery, performance, and overall well-being.
If you want to keep using the barbell in your abs training, consider this workout as well.