When you traditionally think of abdominal exercises, you think of spikes, planks, and perhaps empty grips. But abs can also provide stability to the entire torso in other ways. One of the most unique is a declining bench and will challenge two key functions of your core.
Meet the Iso Hold Mixed Style Decline Bench by male fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, an innovative basic movement that keeps your abs, back muscles, obliques and more perfectly parallel to the floor while managing single, weighted stress. “That’s what happens during that,” Samuel says. “You have to maintain a challenging position while adding rotational tension to the core and extension tension to the core. These forces are not easy to manage by the abs, but by administering them, check a serious abdominal force and protect yourself from bullet injury, too “.
The iso-hold works due to two concepts: Anti-rotation and anti-extension. Among the responsibilities of your core, it is designed to prevent the torso from turning when you don’t want to. Imagine a friend pushing you on the shoulder. You resist by strengthening the core and hips. “This is something that can and should be trained,” says Samuel, “and training it helps you prepare your core for any challenge.”
Similarly, crunches help you resist “extension” to your spine or cover your back. When they contract, they fight this extension, keeping the rib cage tight in the body. “Both qualities, anti-extension and anti-rotation, have to be trained,” says Samuel, “and doing so can help increase the strength of the ab.”
The best part is that you don’t need heavy weights to do it. Even a couple of 2.5 or 5 pound plates can be a challenge in this iso-hold. Lighter, in fact, is better, says Samuel, allowing you to focus on shape. So look for a sloping bench, grab light weights and get ready to burn the core.
- Lying on a bench, with light weights in his hands directly over his shoulders, his torso parallel to the floor.
- Keeping your hips and shoulders square to the ceiling, extend one arm directly over your head and the other to the side. Press and hold for 3 seconds. Keep your abs tight and do not arch your back.
- Turn your arms directly over your shoulders, keeping your abs tight.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Repeat this pattern for 60 seconds. Then rest for 45-60 seconds. Make 3 sets.
This basic down bench series is versatile and can fit into your training in several ways. It’s a perfect way to start a full workout, full of serious basic challenges. Or you can do it as a core-focused finisher after you’ve completed a full-body workout or upper-body session. “You can always train your core more,” says Samuel, “so don’t be afraid to attack this move for a few days in a row.” But take time to do so. The abs will thank you.
For more Samuel tips and routines, check out our full list of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider the Eb’s All Out Arms program.
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