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Should core be exercised to exhaustion? Adding effective volume? Other efficient weighted exercises?

SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
I've been working my core fairly hard daily for a few months. Went from planks to weighted planks, and further from body weight core work to weighted cable crunches and other machines at the end of all of my weight training sessions. I've even found myself able to do headstands up against a wall, which is pretty neat.

Functional core strength progress is pretty fantastic, as though the muscle groups seems to be low volume, it has a fast recovery that allows it to be worked daily.

At the start, I was working it really hard, until it hurt. I remember once i sneezed and it made me jolt. Since then I started doing a more regimented rep scheme of 3 sets of 15 at most, graduating the weight as I progress. Unfortunately, I've hit an unexpected wall. I'm out of weight to add on my machines. I've maxed out the cables for kneeling cable crunches, crunches with oblique twists and standing cable crunches. I've maxed out the weight on my abdominal crunch machine, the rotary torso machine, and some other things. I don't want to do a lot of decline crunches or leg raises like I used to do because there is a lot of lower back activation, and I kind of need to baby my lower back. Frankly, I don't really like as many of the other body weight core exercises.

I don't really feel much of a burn anymore, certainly nowhere near what I used to. Volume through sets doesn't really seem to strain it so much, at least in the sets. I often do the cable crunches back to back, so 6 sets at a time and it's not really that intense.

Should I start doing sets to exhaustion so I feel actual burn and strain?

Am I doing enough right now as it is?

Does anyone have any suggestions on other weighted exercises that may hit the muscle well in a more efficient way? The planks are great, but even those are getting kind of annoying as I'm getting close to being able to do those for 3 minutes with a half plate on my back. Some people find planks meditative, I'm somewhere in-between there.

Thanks!
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Replies

  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,880Member Member Posts: 7,880Member Member
    Not.knowing your programming I can't give specifics of what would be appropriate.

    I will say feeling a burn is not a indication of appropriate volume or intensity.

    I wouldn 't recommend failure as a optimal way to train as a whole. Near failure certainly has its place, but not as a random training insertion.

    As far as "out of weight" to perform lifts. You either do more volume as sets, variations, frequency, or more weight in terms of performing barbell training.
    Everything within the confines of a intelligently written program.
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    Not.knowing your programming I can't give specifics of what would be appropriate.

    I will say feeling a burn is not a indication of appropriate volume or intensity.

    I wouldn 't recommend failure as a optimal way to train as a whole. Near failure certainly has its place, but not as a random training insertion.

    As far as "out of weight" to perform lifts. You either do more volume as sets, variations, frequency, or more weight in terms of performing barbell training.
    Everything within the confines of a intelligently written program.

    The current program really just says "No more than 15 minutes at the end of both of your lower body days." This seems insufficient considering how quickly it recovers so I have been working it weighted all of my gym sessions, and daily with planks.

    I guess I'll just add a few sets and see if I can handle it. Sigh.
  • MT1134MT1134 Posts: 101Member Member Posts: 101Member Member
    I think it's important to start with knowing your goals. Performance goals can have a very different approach than someone who's chasing goals that are more for aesthetics.

    Knowing the goal and following a program that is designed to accomplish that will obviously give you direction.

    As far as switching things up try any of these things.
    Manipulate the:
    1)Sets
    2)Reps
    3)Length of workout (duration)
    4)Time and speed of reps (tempo)
    5)Rest times between rounds/sets
    6)Angle, leverage, grip, feet placement, bar type
    7)Variable of exercise and goals(power, speed, endurance, strength, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, flexibility, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy)
    8)For distance or for speed
    9)Intensity
    10)Load
    11)Volume
    12)Frequency
    13)Recovery (how long you wait before you workout again)
    14)Exercise order
    15)Modality/Tool (Body weight, external weight and objects, rings, TRX, bars, kettlebell, sandbag, ENDLESS OPTIONS FOR ENDLESS MOVEMENTS. MIX AND MATCH. GET CREATIVE.
  • x_blackrainbowx_blackrainbow Posts: 439Member Member Posts: 439Member Member
    One thing no one has pointed out yet is you said you are trying to baby your lower back. Why is that? If you're going to work your core, you need to work your entire core, which includes your back. You don't want to create an imbalance.
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    One thing no one has pointed out yet is you said you are trying to baby your lower back. Why is that? If you're going to work your core, you need to work your entire core, which includes your back. You don't want to create an imbalance.

    It's due to other lifts often straining the muscle to the point of causing auxiliary rest days. Lower back gets work, but often it gets too much work which is why I don't want to strain it more with my core work.
  • MaxxittMaxxitt Posts: 1,064Member Member Posts: 1,064Member Member
    I think that training "to exhaustion," meaning physically unable to perform the exercise, is not a good thing with core exercises, because if your form fails in any way, you are setting yourself up for injury that could sideline your physical activity for weeks. Maybe your core is plenty strong, and you don't need to keep upping the ante, just keep what you got.
  • rheddmobilerheddmobile Posts: 4,440Member Member Posts: 4,440Member Member
    I don’t see ab rollouts on your list of things to try. You can use a barbell or dumbbell as a roller if you don’t have a roller, or you can buy a cheap one for eight bucks at Walmart. Unlike crunches it’s an eccentric motion, with the benefits of a plank, only dynamic. I’ve seen quite big guys struggle with them!
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    From my experience, I will just question whether it's really worth the effort to train core directly given what you are already doing (many compound lifts already incorporate core stability). Ok to do some light core work towards the end of a lifting session if needed/desired.

    Often, I am baffled by people who do ENTIRE core workouts of 20+sets whether he/she is really doing the exercises properly/getting effective muscle contractions. A few DIRECT sets of abdominal focused exercise should be all it takes to reach close to failure if done efficiently (towards end of lifting session/after compound lifts and not simply "going through the motions" like a mindless zombie🧟)

    I would probably agree were it not for the dramatic increase in functional strength in a very short period of time. I can very directly attribute that to the extra focus there. Perhaps it was underpowered to begin with, who knows, but I can do a lot more with my core now than I could in February when I started. Just have to keep finding ways to progress. Core has been the second most dramatic strength increase.

    I started out having a core day as you remember. Honestly, I definitely didn't like core exercises at all until I started incorporating weight, and that suddenly makes them lower reps by design, perfect for the end of a workout. I don't know if I wanna do a hundred weighted cable crunches, or 5 minute planks though hahaha
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    I don’t see ab rollouts on your list of things to try. You can use a barbell or dumbbell as a roller if you don’t have a roller, or you can buy a cheap one for eight bucks at Walmart. Unlike crunches it’s an eccentric motion, with the benefits of a plank, only dynamic. I’ve seen quite big guys struggle with them!

    Ooo see this is one where I foresee myself sucking hahaha
  • TrishSerenTrishSeren Posts: 582Member, Premium Member Posts: 582Member, Premium Member
    The other half (S&C coach and biomechanist) says that you should never train to failure on any exercise. Many reasons but the main two are what's the point, you're simple exhausting yourself for the rest of your workout and your form suffers which can cause injuries.
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    TrishSeren wrote: »
    The other half (S&C coach and biomechanist) says that you should never train to failure on any exercise. Many reasons but the main two are what's the point, you're simple exhausting yourself for the rest of your workout and your form suffers which can cause injuries.

    That was my guess as well, but I was wondering if it was maybe different for core as the recovery was quicker, and I do the exercises at the end of my weight training sessions.

    I'm guessing not haha
  • amusedmonkeyamusedmonkey Posts: 9,592Member Member Posts: 9,592Member Member
    If you need to baby your lower back, going too hard on core exercise of any kind is counterproductive. Lower back issues are a delicate matter, too much core activation, in my experience, brings just as many issues as no core strength. If you have lower back issues, depending on the source of pain, I would very gradually ramp up the intensity and/or duration at a snail's pace. Learned that the hard way.
  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,838Member Member Posts: 1,838Member Member
    oh hey - how about other core-y stuff like those dragonfly things for example?
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    If you need to baby your lower back, going too hard on core exercise of any kind is counterproductive. Lower back issues are a delicate matter, too much core activation, in my experience, brings just as many issues as no core strength. If you have lower back issues, depending on the source of pain, I would very gradually ramp up the intensity and/or duration at a snail's pace. Learned that the hard way.

    It's being babied unfortunately to avoid injury, yes, but mostly because squats and deadlifts heavily activate that area. I have to do those once a week, and those weights do get heavy, so I want to make sure I'm not interfering with that as a preventive measure. My legs are very strong, which makes it possible for me to complete these exercises even when the rest of me isn't quite strong enough. I had a couple weeks where I had niggling pain back there that stubbornly wouldn't go away, so I just want to be cautious.

    If I didn't do squats and deadlifts, I think my overall workout volume would rather handily increase, and I probably wouldn't need to worry about it at all, but nothing really works out as much muscle :(
  • jjpptt2jjpptt2 Posts: 4,717Member Member Posts: 4,717Member Member
    I don't know much about anything, but as I read through this thread there are red flashing lights suggesting that you should probably re-evaluate your training plan as a whole... at the very least, I'd be hesitant to add anything "to exhaustion" work.
  • SpadesheartSpadesheart Posts: 393Member Member Posts: 393Member Member
    mmapags wrote: »
    jjpptt2 wrote: »
    I don't know much about anything, but as I read through this thread there are red flashing lights suggesting that you should probably re-evaluate your training plan as a whole... at the very least, I'd be hesitant to add anything "to exhaustion" work.

    This has been suggested multiple times in multiple threads to this poster without effect.

    I mean, it had effect. Training plan had changed and the mode of progression is more metered rather than haphazard. I took back and retrained the squats and deadlifts. Half the people commenting are in my friends list and see the work. I'd probably hear it from them first haha
  • Keto_VampireKeto_Vampire Posts: 1,692Member Member Posts: 1,692Member Member
    mmapags wrote: »
    jjpptt2 wrote: »
    I don't know much about anything, but as I read through this thread there are red flashing lights suggesting that you should probably re-evaluate your training plan as a whole... at the very least, I'd be hesitant to add anything "to exhaustion" work.

    This has been suggested multiple times in multiple threads to this poster without effect.

    Yes indeed. Well, OP isn't trying to do 38 reps/set *squats (not deadlifts) to match personal records several times a week now, so I'd call that some progress.
    edited June 12
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