The 8-Week Core Program, the Six-Pack, and the Christian

By Don

February 11, 2022

Blog

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The 8-week Core Program

 

The following 8-week core program targets all the areas of your core to develop strength.

The core, made up of your upper/lower abs, obliques, and lower back, is one of the most important muscle groups for functional movement. It provides your body with stability, a strong base for the torso and lower body movements, and can help reduce lower back pain. 

The Six-Pack and the Christian

But before jumping into the 8-week core program, I would be remiss to not mention the six-pack.

A shredded six-pack seems to be one of the gold standards of fitness achievements. Unfortunately, the popularization, sexualization, and even adoration of the six-pack in the fitness culture create murky waters when the Christian considers strengthing his core. 

The pursuit of a six-pack should be subjected to the pursuit of body stewardship for God’s glory.

A six-pack is a visible representation of someone who has a strong core and some mastery of disciplined eating (generally). A visible six-pack can be one measurable indicator that you are stewarding your body effectively. Just like a thriving investment portfolio is a representation of someone who is taking care of his money (generally), a six-pack can be the same representation of effective body-stewardship. 

But like any other form of stewardship (money, time, skills, etc…), there is always a temptation to fixate on the object of stewardship and worship it. It can be turned into an idol. 

Put another way then, the “core” issue of the six-pack fixation and idolization is the heart, not the stomach. 

We do all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and we have to be on guard against the influence of our own sinful inclinations of our hearts in our decisions (Proverbs 4:23). We are to think sober-mindedly about these types of pursuits and issues (Titus 2:6). 

In short, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having visible abs on your stomach. A six-pack is downstream from developing a strong core and disciplined eating, which are two beneficial pursuits. But we need to be on guard against our sinful heart’s motivations, and submit these desires to God and His Word. 

So, with that as the foundation, here are some ways to soberly address the heart and the stomach in the six-pack pursuit. 

Steward your body for God’s glory. 

We live for the ring of God saying “well done, good and faithful servant”. Our bodies have been given to us by God, for God, and they are to be used to please Him.

This stewardship is part and parcel of our sanctification. Like any other pursuit, building a six-pack as a part of body-stewardship should involve mortifying sin and growing in holiness, which goes in two directions. Here are some non-exhaustive examples of how that might look in building core strength: 

    1. Put off laziness and gluttony and put on discipline and strength.
    2. Put off vanity and put on meekness. 
Let your wife alone enjoy your six-pack.

The best six-pack is one no one knows that you have… except your wife. This places the sexualization of the six-pack in the appropriate, biblical context – marriage. This is especially relevant for social media, as six-packs are popularly displayed for all to see. Stop acting like the guy in Proverbs who dispenses himself abroad “in the streets” (Proverbs 5:16), and instead dispense yourself towards “the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). The joy this exclusivity provides is freeing.

Pursue disciplined eating. 

As the adage goes, a six-pack is “made in the kitchen”. Abs become visible when your body fat percentage drops, which is downstream of disciplined eating. The keyword here is discipline, which is a pursuit of ruling over the desire for your food instead of your desire for food ruling over you. 

These desires can work in two directions. The desire for food can rule and lead to an expanding waist, but the desire for food can also rule and lead to obsessively monitoring every bite. There’s a path right in the middle of these two desires that’s marked by sober-mindedness and self-control. By God’s grace and strength, we can learn to be at the helm of these desires by submission to Him and His Word. That’s our aim. 

There are a lot of online articles, meal plans, and other resources that can help you in this pursuit of disciplined eating, especially as it relates to lowering body fat to have visible abs. Here are a few resources that can assist you with this:

Strengthen your whole body

A six-pack is one muscle group. Like any muscle group, it’s important to not over-develop one to the neglect of another. This can cause muscle imbalances that could lead to pain or injury. Find a program or routine that will strengthen your whole body. If you want a resource to help you with this, check out the Layman’s Fitness 12 Week Exercise Program. 

Pursue strengthening your core.  

A six-pack is the visible result of a strong core, and there are numerous benefits of having a strong core. It will help with movement, stability, reduce lower back pain, etc… Like eating, a six-pack is downstream from a strong core, and the following 8-week core program will help you strengthen this muscle group. 

So let’s jump in!

Core Program Structure

This bodyweight core program lasts for 8 weeks and targets the different areas of your core:  

  • Upper Abs
  • Lower Abs
  • Obliques
  • Lower Back

Throughout the 8 weeks, this core program will progress through three different workouts: “A“, “B“, and “C“. All of the workouts are bodyweight-based, so minimal equipment is required.

Tips for Implementation: 

  • Add this program to your morning routine.
  • Add this program as a break in your workday.
  • Add this program before you eat lunch.
  • Add this program to your evening routine.
  • Add this program to the beginning of your exercise routine.
  • Add this program to the end of your exercise routine. 

However you decide to implement it, pick one, and try it!

The workouts progressively build on each other and are comprised of different exercises. You will perform each workout for a duration of about 2-3 weeks, and you can expect each workout in the core program to last 8-12 minutes each. Rest for 1-2 days between workouts. 

All three workouts are accompanied by a YouTube video that demonstrates each exercise. The links to these videos are beneath the individual workouts.

A Workout

“A Workout”Demonstration Video Link 

 

Instructions: Complete 3 rounds of the exercises. Between each circuit, rest for 30 seconds. 

Flutter Kicks: 

  • Start in a supine position (on your back) with your arms and legs on the ground. 
  • With your arms at your sides, raise your right leg off the ground.
  • As you lower your right leg back to the ground, raise your left leg, Repeat without letting either leg touch the ground. 

Side Planks:

  • Start by lying on your side, with your right forearm under your shoulder and your right foot on the ground with your left foot on top. 
  • Supporting your weight on your right forearm and right foot, raise your torso and hips until a straight line is created from your feet to your head. 
  • Hold the position, then lower back to starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Planks:

  • Start on the ground on your forearms and knees, with your elbows beneath your shoulders. 
  • Move your feet back until your body is extended and supported by your feet and forearms, with your core tight. 
  • Hold the position, then return to the starting position. 

Prone Cobra

  • Start in a prone position (on your belly) with your chest and legs on the ground. 
  • With your arms extended parallel to your legs, raise your torso, arms, and legs off the ground. 
  • Point your thumbs up in the air as you raise your arms off the ground. 
  • Hold the position, then return back to the starting position. 

B Workout

“B Workout”Demonstrational Video Link 

Instructions: Complete the first Superset 3 times before moving on to the second. Rest for 15-30 seconds between each Superset. 

This workout utilizes “Supersets”, which is a combination of two different exercises into one set. The two exercises are completed one after another with minimal rest.

Toes to Sky:

  • Start in a supine position (on your back) with your arms by your sides and legs pointed up in the air. 
  • Using your core muscles and with your hands planted on the ground, raise your hips straight off the ground and keep your legs straight. 
  • Lower your hips back to the ground, keeping your legs straight. Repeat. 

Bicycle Crunches:

  • Start in a supine position (on your back) with your elbows bent, hands behind your head, and with your legs straight and on the ground. 
  • Raise both legs off the ground a few inches. Bend your left knee and move it towards your head. Simultaneously lift your torso off the ground and move your right elbow towards your left knee, keeping your hands behind your head.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Swimmers:

  • Start in a prone position (on your belly) with your arms extended straight in front of you and with your legs straight and extended. 
  • Lift your right arm and your left leg off the ground at the same time and pause at the top of the movement.  
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with your left arm and right leg. Repeat. 

Side Crunches:

  • Lay on your right side. Bend your knees at around a 90-degree angle, bend your left elbow, place your left hand behind your head, and place your right arm on the ground. 
  • Using the muscles on the left side of your stomach, lift your torso off the ground, while keeping your legs off the ground. 
  • Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

C Workout

“C Workout”Demonstrational Video Link 

Instructions: Repeat this circuit 3 times for a total of 3 rounds. Target 12-20 reps per exercise. Between each round, rest for 30 seconds.

V-Ups:

  • Lay in a supine position (on your back), with your arms straight behind your head and with your legs straight. 
  • Lift your torso off the ground, keeping your arms straight, and lift your legs off the ground, keeping your legs straight. Try to touch your hands and feet together at the top of the movement. 
  • Return to starting position, and repeat. 

Russian Twists:

  • Start while sitting on the floor. Raise your legs off the ground with your knees bent and put your hands together in front of your chest. 
  • Rotate your torso with your arms to the right, until your hands are just above the floor. 
  • Rotate your torso to the left, until your hands are just above the floor. Repeat on opposite sides. 
  • Optional – Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell, as I did in the demonstrational video, to make this movement harder. 

Mountain Climbers:

  • Start in a high push-up position, with your hands shoulder-width apart, back straight, and feet back. 
  • Using your shoulders, chest, and core to stabilize your body, bring your right knee up near your right elbow, return to starting position, then bring your left knee up near your left elbow, then return to starting position.
  • Alternate this movement, bringing your legs up to your arms as quickly as you can, while maintaining proper form. 

Supermans:

  • Start in a prone position (on your belly) with your arms extended straight in front of you and with your legs straight and extended. 
  • Lift your arms and legs off the ground at the same time, and pause at the top of the movement. 
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Leave a Reply