Just a few days ago, while waiting for my client to arrive, I watched a guy with low body fat (think lean), proceed to do his ab routine.  He did the typical knee raises, crunches on knees using the cable, and a few others that are too difficult to effectively explain here.  Let's just say it was an extensive routine, full of complicated and high level core movements. 

But you know what?

Almost each and every ab/core movement he chose, he performed incorrectly.  I was honestly concerned whether he was going to literally injure his spine throughout the entire routine.

Now, please understand I'm not being pompous or arrogant.  The movements, by the way he was executing them, were literally putting his spine in danger.  He maintained little to no stabilization in his mid section while performing each of his movements, and when he became tired (fatigued) his form became even worse.

Of course I commented respectively, "That's quite a core routine you have laid out for yourself.  Those are some really advanced core movements".  Beaming he responded, "Yeah, I just saw it in (fitness name omitted) magazine.  They said it will give me a great core in a few weeks". 

This is the exact kind of the thing that burns my you know what!

There are progressions to every movement/exercise.  There is a starting level, and numerous levels in between leading to the more advance versions (simple versions to more complex versions).  As in life, the goal is to start simply and slowly progress upward to more challenging forms and versions. 

Why?

So you don't injure yourself.  Do any movement, no matter how easy it seems, the wrong way long enough, and you will get injured.  Just because someone has a 6-pack does not mean they know how to train their core properly.  Having great genetics or good nutrition habits is what makes you lean. It doesn't dictate the quality of your core training.

And for goodness sakes, just because it's in a magazine doesn't make it the right way to train.  Magazine articles are written to help sell magazines.  Not necessarily to properly instruct you on the progressions of a certain movement/exercise.  Be clear, it's to sell magazines.

I want each of you to succeed in having a strong stable core.  And believe me when I tell you, you can't do it, build a strong core, if you're injured.

Start your core training movements utilizing the floor as your initial support surface.  Then try moving to do single leg versions of something like hip raises, for instance.  Then you would progress to a Swiss Ball, as this would provide even more challenge to your stability.  From there you could move to suspension straps, etc.  Now realize the above is merely a suggested guide as to how to properly progress your core training forward and not hurt yourself in the process.

It's more about how they function -- not just how they look.

Check out today's progression.