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8 Functional Exercises to build a Solid Core & Abs of Steel

A solid core is the basis for all functional movements, and a lack of this foundation will only result in major weaknesses in all your athletic performances. There are exercises that work your entire core (such as L Sits) and then there are exercises that target specific areas or muscle groups, which can be effective as accessory exercises.


Your core and abs comprise of the rectus abdominis, obliques (external abdominal, internal abdominal, and transverse) intercostals and serratus.

  • The Rectus Abdominis stretches from your sternum down to your pelvic bone. Its purpose is to pull your upper torso towards your hips. An exercise that targets this area is the standard crunch.
  • Your Obliques are located either side of your waist. They are essential for you to be able to tilt and twist your upper body. An Exercise that targets these are Russian Twists.
  • Intercostals are located to the side of your rib cage. They function to elevate and depress the ribs. An exercise that targets them is the air bike.
  • The Serratus is located between your abs and lats. Its function is to pull the scapula forward. An exercise that targets them specifically are barbell pullovers.

Core muscles are mainly comprised of fast twitch fibers. This means that they respond well to medium rep ranges and explosive movements. Intensity is the name of the game here.


There are certain exercises that target specific muscle groups within your core, and can be a fun way to do accessory work and improve certain weaknesses. There are also exercises that will turn you into a strength machine hewn from iron sinews and muscles like slabs of steel. The Deadlift fits into the latter category. It targets your whole core, and puts your body a great deal of healthy stress, forcing you to grow stronger and develop a powerful core. Here is Dmitry Klokov using his solid core and making 300 kg look easy…


These will crush your core. The beauty of this hold is that it leaves you nowhere to hide. It demands perfect form and in many cases, identifies any of your weaknesses very easily.

male crossfit athlete building a solid core with L sitsSource: RX'd Photography
Building a strong core

If you think you are pretty good with these and you have a solid core, then take a leaf out of Swiss Crossfitter Adrian Mundwiler’s book, and try a Strict L Sit Muscle Up. Now this takes strength, grace and control.


Gymnastic complex: 15sec L-sit hold + 2x L-Sit Muscle Ups + 15sec L-Sit hold @gear9.ch @prozis @theprogrm #johnsproject #Crossfit @crossfitgames

A video posted by Adrian Mundwiler (@mountainman_cf) on

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