The middle of your body is the most important part of you body to train. It must be strong because without the middle it will crumble. I have seen many guys whose mid-section is lacking and they either take a beating on the field or they are always getting hurt. I am not just talking abs alone. I am talking bacj, neck, traps, and butt. These are the areas most people seem to forget because they are not glamour muscles like the chest, arms, and shoulders. I have never heard anyone say "Hey, I want a strong butt." or "Hey, I want to do some extra lower back work." It just does not happen, but these middle muscle groups are where all the strength and power start and they need to be developed to be a good athlete. Here are a few exercises I feel are great to build the middle.
First, lets start with the neck. I love to train my neck and have tried a great number of exercises. I found that a neck strap and heavy weight is great. I do this twice a week, only 3 sets, 10 reps, always adding weight with each set. Neck crunches are also good. These are done by hanging your head over the edge of the bench and taking a towel across your forehead. Place the plate on the towel and raise your head.
Traps are next. And I love traps because there are so many exercises to do. Cleans, power pulls, snatch pulls, rack dead lifts, dumbbell swings, or any variation of these lifts. Then there is my favorite and the one I feel packs the most punch, shrugs! I love good old barbell squeeze your shoulder to your ears shrugs. I also believe in heavy, heavy, heavy trap work.
Hips and butt are the areas that mosy shy away from. I say No Way!! This is the power center, the area everything starts at. Squats are the number one exercise for these areas. Heck, everyone knows this and that's why some sissies who say "I don't want a big butt so I leg press and do extensions." Well, tough, to be strong you must work the hips and butt.
Last but not least, are the lower back and abs. These are the most neglected parts by trainees. I have, after 14 years of training, learned the hard way that you must train these areas hard and often, at least twice a week. I don't mean kill yourself every workout, but you must train to build strength and these two areas need to be strong. Great exercises for your lower back are good mornings, stiff-legged dead lifts, and reverse hyperextension. These three are great and I have employed all three at one time or another. Abs are next and last because I feel that most athletes train them wronge. You see, abs are muscle just like bi, tri, and quads, so you have to train them jusy like any other muscle group. if you want them to be strong, you have to train them for strength. So thousands of reps will not feed the bulldog. You must do weighted exercises and do them heavy. Weighted sit-ups, leg raises with weight attached, and crunches with weight are all good for the abs. I also think medicine ball abs work is great.
Please remember, the middle is the power center, the place where it all starts. To reach your full potential, you must start in the middle. Good Luck!
Originally posted on NaturalStrength.com on August 2, 2000