Building a record-breaking squat or deadlift requires a strong back. But that is only half of the battle. You will need to support the back with a strong abdomen. Strong abs will help to protect you from injury and help to transfer energy from the legs into the bar. You squat and deadlift standing up, so the majority of your ab work should be standing also.

You are not working your abs to look good on the beach. You want stronger lifts, and your abs must be able to support massive loads. There is no excuse but being lazy if you have weak abs. Don’t be lazy, and just get it done.

Cable Pulldown Abs

The standing ab pulldown is the cornerstone of standing ab work. The spud short or long ab strap will do the trick. A squared stance will help to traction you out at the end of the workout, and either are great as a warm-up. The key is to stretch out at the top. Flex the abs and obliques before pulling down. Keep your body off of the vertical post, and if you have to push against the post, the weight is too heavy.

Options for this movement.

Judo pulldowns mimic the movement you might find in a judo match where one player throws another. Adding in some rotational work for a powerlifter to get out of the same plane of movements, we typically get stuck. For this movement, you will use a band. Choked from the top of a power rack, you will take a staggered stance. The hand on the same side as the forward foot will be at the bottom of the band. The second hand will be 12-18 inches higher up the band.

Start in a stretched position just like traditional pulldown ab movement but as you approach the bottom you will twist the upper hand and shoulder toward your midline. This should be done in an explosive fashion just like a throw. It is not to be done lazily.

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These two movements are some of my favorite ab movements. Giving a little more than just flexing the abs brings back my days as a real athlete. Those days are gone, but being more athletic will never hurt you. There are more than these two ways to use the grappler, but these will be the two I address in this article. These movements will be separated into bent arm and straight arm. The bent arm is a much shorter movement and nears a side bend. The long-arm version will hit a little more shoulder but is still worth adding into your arsenal.

      • 2 arm straight




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  • 2 arm bent (side bend)

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Abs Against GHR

This is a great ab exercise. It works really well on a glute ham raise because of the curved pad. Loop a band around the back of the glute ham raise. Pull the band over your head so that you are holding it at your chest. Rest your middle back on the pad of the GHR. As you contract your abs, crunch yourself forward as far as you can. Slowly return to the start.

ghr ab


These are done on your feet but are more like traditional ab work than any of the others on this list.

Side Bend Pushdowns

The obliques must be flexed hard for a rock-solid torso. When you’re doing heavy side bends to build those obliques, it can be tricky to get into a safe position with enough weight. This simple movement is very effective and can produce a better contraction with less weight. You will not need to match the weight as a normal side bend. Use a band with these for a great warm-up.



Sled Ankle Dragging

Strong hip flexors are important, and leg raises are one way to work them. But hanging and controlling the legs can be hard on bigger lifters. So, we can limit the load and get outside for some GPP with the sled. Simply put the sled straps around your ankles and walk. I recommend long socks or ankle straps or you might just get a rope burn. Three plus round trips of 200 feet should be enough to get you started.

Single-arm farmer's carries, waiter's carries, and the Paloff press are other alternatives you can do on your feet. Although they are all good, I feel they were less effective in my pursuit of strength than those listed above. The key will be to find what works and feels best for you and your lifts.