Best Core Exercises

Mind-Muscle Connection

Here are the best core exercises and how to perform them. We know the core isn’t just your abs. There is a mind-body connection that’s important when training… and there are a lot of muscles around your torso that control your core. 

These important core muscles are stabilizers that you need to react spontaneously to what you do in the gym. So, it’s important to establish a relationship with these key core muscles so that they work for you when you need them the most. 

The Ring of Fire

Back in the day, Vince Gironda created this drill called The Ring of Fire. The concept here is basically, hanging a band over a pull-up bar. You wrap the band around each wrist and lock your hands together. The goal here is to just get some steady tension on the abs. The work here comes not from the band, but from you contracting as hard as you can to create this mind-muscle connection.

Top Down Movement

The first one you do is the Top Down Movement. You do this first because you have better control here and gravity will help. 

We’re going to work the upper abs by crunching down as hard as we can (bringing the rib cage down over the pelvis). 

So, when you do this movement, you want to really crunch down hard. You might even cramp up a little. 

Hold this position for about 5 to 10 seconds… then without resting, shift the attention to the lower abs. You are basically posteriorly rotating the pelvis without letting up on the constant tension on the band. 

Next, we move on to the obliques. Focus on the internal obliques and try to rotate our shoulders in that same direction. So, if you are moving to the right, contract and squeeze really hard to the right. 

Next, we move on to the external obliques. Again, don’t take any rest. It’s called the ring of fire because you are trying to build up this constant burn. 

So now, you are rotating to the opposite side. So again, bear down and contract as hard has you can. 

Next, we move on to the hip hiking muscle. So now, we drop back and rotate back and toward our back hip. You’re contracting as hard as you can unilaterally to that right-side area. 

Next, we wrap around to the back to hit the spinal extenders. This is bending back into extension to hit the paraspinal muscles along our spine. 

Half-Way Through the Ring of Fire

So now, you are half way through the ring of fire. Next, you start to work your way back around to the front… then work your around to the left side and then back to the front again. 

When to do the Ring of Fire?

You can actually do this pre-workout. The Ring of Fire actually awakens the muscles getting them to know that you want something from them… so that when you ask for it, they work for you. 

This is important when you need that stabilization (especially during lower body movements).  So, you can do this before a workout, during a workout, or after a workout… it just depends on how much help you need. 

It’s smart to go ahead and integrate this training into your Best Core Exercises.

Improving the Mind-Muscle Connection

So how often do you need to do this? If you have really good neuromuscular control in that area, then you may not need to do it as often. 

If you have poor control and can NOT feel this very well when you contract these muscles, then you may need to practice them more often. 

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this method of training the abs. It may seem simple, but it’s important to get the core stabilizers firing correctly. You want them to be there working for you when you need them the most. 

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