Quick Beginner Ab Workout

A quick ab workout that focuses on stability.

Did you know that your abdominal muscles are just one part of your core? Your core is actually defined by the structures that make up your lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, including the lumbar spine, the pelvic girdle, abdomen, and the hip joint.

Your core is made up of three systems: the local stabilization system, the global stabilization system, and the movement system.

Local Stabilization System

Muscles that attach directly to the vertebrae. These muscles contribute to spinal stability by increasing intra-abdominal pressure, generating tension in the thoracolumbar fascia which increases spinal stiffness for improved neuromuscular contril.

  • Transverse abdominis
  • Internal oblique
  • Lumbar multifidus
  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Diaphragm

Global Stabilization System

Muscles attach from the pelvis to the spine. These muscles transfer loads between the upper and lower extremities, provide pelvis and spine stability, and stabilize and eccentrically control the core during functional movements.

  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Psoas major
  • External oblique
  • Portions of internal oblique
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Gluteus medius
  • Adductor complex

Movement System

Muscles that attach the spine and/or pelvis to the extremities. These muscles are mostly responsible for concentric force production and eccentric deceleration during activities.

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Hip flexors
  • Hamstring complex
  • Quadriceps

Why is it important to have a stable core?

Your core is the origin of all movement and where the center of gravity for your body is located. An unstable core during movement will not allow for optimal stabilization, force reduction, force production, or transference to occur throughout your body. An efficient core is not only vital for proper movement and balance throughout your body, but it is also important for injury prevention.

Strength vs. Stability

Do we want a strong core or do we want a stable core? Well, we want both. But often exercises that stabilize the core are underutilized and that can cause problems. If the musculature of your core movement system is strong, but the stabilization system is weak, your body will not be able to optimally use or transfer forces.

Strength exercises are not as efficient as isometric exercises at improving core stiffness. Stiffness is important for stability. When the muscles of our core contract, stiffness is created.

What is a strength exercise? A crunch, leg lifts, or side bend.

What is an isometric exercise? It is a hold. It is a static contraction of the muscle without visible movement. For example: plank, side plank.

About the Exercises in the Video


The dead bug exercise is a popular way to build core strength and stabilization. It especially targets the transverse abdominis and spinal erectors.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a full-body exercise, which means it can get your heart rate up quickly. As you perform the move, your shoulders, arms, and chest work to stabilize your upper body while your core stabilizes the rest of your body.


This exercise helps strengthen the muscles of your anterior chain (the front half of your body) while stretching the muscles of your posterior chain (the back half of your body). What does this have to do with your core? If you do not properly engage your core, you will not be able to perform the exercise effectively with proper form.

Bird Dog

The bird dog strengthens the abdominal muscles, lower back, glutes, and quads while also challenging your balance which helps strengthen your stabilization system.

Side Plank

The side plank strengthens the oblique abdominal muscles, which are very useful as core stabilization muscles. It also activates gluteus medius.

Bear Shoulder Taps

Bear with shoulder taps challenges the shoulders, chest, core, legs, arms, and back. In trying to minimize movement in your trunk, you are working to strengthen your stabilization system.

Squats for Beginners

I’m sure everyone would agree that jumping straight to a barbell back squat is not a good idea if you’re a beginner. Here’s a video progression to work yourself up to where you are comfortable with a barbell back squat:

How to Progress Your Squat for Beginners

So, how should a beginner progress their squat?

Here’s a great squat progression sequence:

  1. Wall squat
  2. Counterbalance squat
  3. Bodyweight squat
  4. Goblet squat
  5. Double kettlebell front squat
  6. Barbell front squat
  7. Barbell back squat

So that’s my favorite progression for squats. If you’re a beginner and you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe

This easy stir fry is a great way to load up on protein and veggies.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

Soy Garlic Stir Fry Sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced


  1. Add olive oil to a large skillet on medium high heat. 
  2. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned and almost cooked through. 
  3. Add onion, garlic, and veggies and cook, stirring occasionally, just until crisp tender. 
  4. Whisk stir fry sauce and pour ¼ cup over chicken and vegetables and stir gently to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and let boil for one minute.
  6. Enjoy with either basmati or cauliflower rice! Top with any of the remaining stir fry sauce if desired!

** This recipe makes a lot of stir fry sauce. I save the rest and use it to reheat leftovers.

You should also feel free to add or substitute any veggies of your choice. We’ve used broccoli, carrots, peas, and cabbage. All are delicious!

The Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate

We have a favorite post-workout shake right now that we whip up ourselves:

  • 1 cup of milk of your choice (whole, almond, …)
  • 1 tablespoon of Beekeeper’s Naturals Superfood Honey
  • 1 scoop of John’s Killer Protein
  • 1 tsp of Creatine Monohydrate
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon

A short list of some of the benefits of Creatine Monohydrate:

  • Creatine is an amino acid that is found naturally in muscle cells.
  • Creatine is a popular and effective supplement for sports performance and adding muscle mass
  • Creatine supplements increase your phosphocreatine stores, allowing you to produce more ATP energy to fuel your muscles during high-intensity exercise
  • Creatine monohydrate is one of the most extensively studied form of creatine
  • Vegetarians/vegans are likely to have significantly lower levels of creatine, so they will likely have a better than average response to creatine supplementation
  • Creatine supplementation can improve some properties of aging bone
  • For people over 50, creatine can have fat burning properties in addition to muscle and strength building

Want to learn more about creatine?

Check out Iron Culture: Ep. 41 – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Creatine