My 3 Favorite Core Conditioner Combos

I could end this article with one word, kettlebells. I've found that over time and many, many, reps, the ballistic involvement of the abdominal, hip, and low back muscles during high rep kettlebell sets gives the lifter not only more dense, and flexible, muscle fiber, but stronger muscle to muscle (ligaments) and muscle to bone connection (tendons).

With that said, some still feel the need for a little extra core work. Here are three of my favorite combinations. Most of the following exercises are familiar and not extremely complicated.

Bike Kick / Bridge Combo
Bike Kicks, or Bicycle Maneuver as it's formally known is  done lying in the supine position, with fingers interlace behind your head (be sure not to tug on the neck). Bring your opposite elbow to your opposite knee. As one leg extends out (straight knee), the other knee moves to the chest. Move dynamically, but slowly, being sure to breathe throughout the set. Set a rep goal range of 10 to 30 reps.

The Bridge, or Shoulder Bridge is also performed from the supine position. The heels are brought near the buttocks with the knees about hip width apart (not wide, not together). Raise the hips off the floor, squeezing the buttocks and back muscles, stretching the abdominals, and hip flexors, and hold from 10 to 30 seconds. Be sure to breathe throughout the set. 

The Routine
Set your clock anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. Perform as many bike kicks as you can before your form breaks down, and switch to the bridge. Hold the bridge for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence for the tine allotted for the set, going back and forth from Bike Kick to Bridge. 

Plank / Mountain Climber Combo
The Plank or actually the Modified Plank is done in a push up position, but down on your elbows instead of your hands (forearms on the floor). Hold for a period of 15 seconds to 2 minutes or more, depending upon your capacity. Keep the body perfectly straight throughout. Be sure to never hold your breath during long hold.

The Mountain Climber is performed from the push up position as well, but one leg at a time is explosively brought towards the chest (foot repositioned on the floor), as the other leg jumps back. Reps are counted in groups of four (1,2, 3 one, 1, 2 3, two, 1, 2, 3, three, etc.) 

The Routine
Set a clock from 2 to 5 minutes. First perform a plank for 30 seconds, and immediately perform 4 to 10 mountain climbers, repeat plank / mountain climber sequence for the time allotted.

Sit Up / Hyper Extension Combo (not shown)
The old fashioned Situp is a great exercise when done correctly with the knees bent and feet anchored (or held by a workout partner). The movement should resemble a curl up and down of the spine, one vertebrae at a time. Keep the neck in a neutral position the whole time, exhale as you curl, but only to where gravity takes over and the situp gets easier, immediately roll back down so shoulders tap the floor and return up, resisting the urge to use your legs and hip flexors to assist.  

The hyper extension is best performed on a machined dedicated for that purpose. Normally the machines serves as a Roman Chair as well. Think of a hyper extension as a reverse sit up. Be sure you have a member of the gym staff advice you on the proper use any equipment that you use.

The Routine
Perform 10 to 20 slow controlled Sit Ups followed by 8 to 12 hyper extensions. Repeat the sequence 1 to 3 times.

Perform one, two, all or three routines, depending upon your current fitness level and exercise goals. For continued results, work on extending allotted time or number of rounds of each combo. Always get clearance from your physician before beginning any new exercise program.

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