5 Exercises For A Killer Core & Total Body Strength

Any fitness trainer worth their weight knows that abdominal exercises like sit-ups will NEVER flatten your stomach and help you see your core muscles.

Why? Because sit-ups are too small a movement to elicit any meaningful metabolic effect to burn fat. They only target your rectus abdominis muscle (your eight-pack muscle) and, in so doing, create muscular imbalances within your core that can ruin your posture and impose greater stress on your lower back.

The following five ab exercises will help you shed belly fat but also develop greater full-body strength. These moves work at burning fat by recruiting the entire body and thus using more muscle mass. That means more calories are required to fuel each rep. At the same time, you core is forced into action to stabilize your body and transfer energy throughout the movement. Let's get started!

1. Clean + Press

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Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping the back flat, bend at the knees and hips so that you can grab the bar (or dumbbells) with your arms fully extended, with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width.

Begin to pull the weight up by straightening your legs and ensuring your back remains flat throughout the lift. As the weight approaches the height of your shoulders, press it above your head by bending your knees slightly and pushing your feet into the ground for the propulsion to drive the weight above your head. Return the weight slowly toward the floor, keeping your back flat, and repeat. Aim for six to ten reps using a challenging weight.

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2. Squat Press

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In a standing position, holding dumbbells at your shoulders, sit your butt back and shift your bodyweight onto your heels as you lower down, like you're about ot sit on a chair. Make sure you only lower to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor and that your torso stays tall through the entire motion.

Now, push your feet into the floor to return to a standing position and use that leg thrust to push the dumbbells above your head. Aim for six to ten reps using a challenging weight.

3. Burpees

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To perform a burpee, start from a standing position, then drop to the floor and perform a push-up. At the top of the push-up, jump your feet in toward your chest and jump up off the floor as high as possible. Rinse and repeat. Aim to do as many as your can in 30 seconds, and do two to three sets.

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4. Front Squats

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Assume a normal squat position, but this time place the bar across the front of your shoulders or hold dumbbells at your shoulders. To keep the bar in place, you'll have to curl your fingers underneath the bar, forcing your arms to stay parallel to the floor.

Lower into a squat (sitting back on your heels) and then push through, back to standing — this push phase is where you'll feel some incredible core activation. Aim for six to ten reps using a challenging weight.

5. Mountain Climbers

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Done properly, this exercise will make your heart jump out of your chest while strengthening your core like nobody's business.

Assume a push-up position and maintain your hips at the same height as your shoulders; shuffle your right knee in toward to your chest. Then, return the right leg and switch by bringing the left knee in. Do this as fast as possible while maintaining strict control of the rest of your body. Go hard for 30 seconds.

Adapted from my new book, The All-Day Fat Burning Diet.

Cover photo courtesy of iStock

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