A Fighter’s Approach to Core Training

This guest post was written by Andrew Raposo, creator of FighterAbs.com.

I was fourteen years old at the time. I watched Mike Tyson completely tear off his opponent’s head. The type of power he generated was remarkable. At the time, I’d never seen another human do that to an opponent. For some reason, I needed to know how he was capable of doing it. Saying that he was just “born like that” wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to be as badass as Mike Tyson!

Being as ripped as he was would have been pretty nice as well. It wasn’t just him though. Every fighter I saw was completely ripped. They all had shredded Six-Pack Abs that had me in awe. I definitely wasn’t getting anywhere with the sit-ups and crunches I was doing, but I was getting some good ol’ lower back pain.


Eventually my fascination with boxing and the tremendous shape the fighters were in led me to join a boxing gym. At first I just did the regular box fit classes, but they didn’t really do much for me. It was the same old jumping jacks, sit-ups, and various other cardio modalities.

The fighters in the gym weren’t doing this stuff. They were following a whole other regimen, so I started to observe what these guys were doing. They all trained for power, explosiveness, strength, and power endurance, but there was also one main focus that every fighter had in common.

That focus was the main source of their power and athleticism. It was the foundation of their training. It was… all right, all right, I’ll tell you!

The foundation for every fighter is CORE TRAINING.

Without a strong and stable core, you have no power, strength, or athleticism. Just think about it. Throwing a punch is a full-body movement. It starts from the ground, rotating your legs and hips, transferring up to the CORE, and rotating your upper body into your fist. The core is responsible for transferring the force from your legs and hips into your fist. Without a strong core, your punches will feel like feathers.

Now, I’m not recommended you get a strong core just so you can punch someone in the face. I’m just showing you one of the best systems for training your core. This also goes further than having a strong core just for performance. This type of core training will work your abs harder than anything you’ve done before. Just look at the midsection of a fighter. They sure as hell don’t get those Six-Pack Abs from sit-ups.

If you train your core and abs like a fighter, you’ll eventually have abs like a fighter. Think about it. Fighters train their abs to withstand direct blows to the midsection. For that reason, they need top of the line training for their core. What other athletes train their midsection for that? Exactly.

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Here’s the best part. Fighters focus on bodyweight exercises for their core training. That’s why I knew I had to get this information to Todd and his readers. If you’re a fan of bodyweight exercises, you’ll definitely want to try out the core routine I’m about to share with you. It’s a simple but effective ab workout that I use with my fighters and clients.

But first, I’m going to let you in on the two most common mistakes people make when it comes to core training.

Mistake #1: Too Much Volume

Way too many people perform countless reps of an ab exercise instead of focusing on strength. By now we should all know that crunches and sit-ups are a complete waste of time. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to beat the horse on that one.

The thing is, people are still doing 400-500 reps of an ab exercise. But your abdominals and core should be treated just like any other muscle group. For some weird reason, many people perform more reps when training their core than any other muscle group. Strength should be considered when training your core. You don’t increase strength by doing 500 reps of an exercise.

Something else that’s too much volume for core training? Holding a plank for longer than a minute. If you can already hold a plank with good form for a minute, or even 30 seconds, then it’s time to move on.

There are much more challenging plank variations that you can do to effectively train your abdominals and core. I’m going to be showing you a plank variation where you will learn to brace your abs like a fighter about to throw a punch.

Speaking of bracing your abs, that leads me to the next most common mistake in core training.

Mistake #2: Drawing In Instead of Bracing Your Abs

Here’s what I mean. Too many people suck in their stomach rather than pushing it out, which is also known as bracing.

Core strength comes from bracing your abs, not sucking in your gut. Try this: push a heavy object as hard as you can while sucking in your gut, then push that same object while pushing your stomach out. You’ll notice a huge difference.

The difference between drawing in your abs and bracing them is the difference between just having abs and having abs that POP. A fighter heavily relies on bracing. They will not get the same type of power in their strikes if they don’t brace their abdominals.

One way to learn to brace your abs, and a cue that I love using, is to pretend you’re being hit in the stomach. What’s your initial reaction? Exactly. You’ll naturally brace your abs to withstand the blow.

In the workout below, you’ll learn specific exercises that will force you to brace your abs.

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. You’ve learned the most common mistakes, and now it’s time to learn the corrections and begin to train your core and abs like a fighter. Here’s the bodyweight core routine that I use with my fighters.

The Fighter Core Routine

  1. Long plank with Armpit Touch – 10 reps each side
  2. Box plank – 10 reps each side
  3. Hardstyle Plank – 3 reps of 10 seconds

Rest for 60 seconds. Repeat for a total of 3 rounds.

If you’re unsure what these exercises look like, check out the description of each exercise below.

Long Plank with Armpit Touch

  • Get into the top of a push-up position
  • Walk your hands forward until they are above your head
  • Keeping your abs braced, touch the opposite armpit
  • Repeat the movement, alternating sides for the prescribed reps

Notes: Don’t let your hips sway from side to side when performing the movement.

Long Plank With Armpit Touch

Box Plank

  • Start in a quadruped position – knees underneath your hips and hands underneath your shoulders
  • Brace your abs and raise your knees off the ground
  • Keep the abs braced and take one hand off the ground, without moving your hips
  • Repeat with the other hand

Box Plank

Hardstyle Plank

  • Start in a plank position, on your elbows
  • Make sure there’s a straight line from your head to toes, and your hands are separate
  • Squeeze your abs, glutes, quads, and fists as hard as you can
  • Drive your elbows towards your toes as hard as you can
  • Keep this tension for 10 seconds, then rest for 5 seconds
  • Repeat for the prescribed reps

Hardstyle Plank

And there you have it. A core routine that will start you on the road to getting abs like a fighter, as well as taking your performance and athleticism to the next level.

If you’d like more workouts like this, check out FighterAbs.com for videos and a complete step-by-step guide to getting Six-Pack Abs using only your own bodyweight.

Bio PictureAndrew Raposo is the creator of FighterAbs.com. Andrew is a North American Super Middleweight Muay Thai Champion and a Two-Time Provincial Gold Medalist in Boxing. Andrew is a passionate Fitness & Strength Coach and runs a private practice out of Toronto, Canada, where he trains high-level fighters for competition, as well as transforming average bodies into extraordinary results with his unique approach to training.

Start your journey to Fighter Abs now! <=

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Show/Hide Comments (6 comments)
  1. Rohit

    Great exercises, sir! I do each of them.

  2. jeffrey schutzman

    I ordered fighter abs system. I was able to open the videos but not the manual, 6 week wokout plan or the supplement guide. Can you help?

  3. Brendon

    Awesome stuff! Really gives the core some good work!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      For sure!

  4. Nussie

    Another great article! It’s a shame how I still see women and men alike performing hundreds of situps in the gym. If only they knew what a waste of time that was….

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Nussie, People forget how important the entire core is. That’s the biggest problem. They train solely for aesthetics and miss the bigger picture.

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