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Core Training With Gary Calcagno

Core Training With Gary Calcagno

Having a strong core is an important in any sport and wrestling is certainly no exception. A strong core will help you in so many aspects of wrestling from maintaining balance to increasing the power in your shots. Those and the many other reasons a strong core is necessary should be all the reasons that you need to train your abs. 

The good thing about training your core is that there are so many different options that you have at your disposal. That can also be a problem, as you have so many options to pick from that it can be hard to pick what exercises you want to perform. For most people, keeping it simple and using the basics are what is going to be the most effective for most athletes. When it comes to core training, it doesn’t get much more basic than the good old crunch. 

In this video, coach Gary Calcagno shows a core training series that he puts his athletes through. Gary Calcagno is a wrestling strength and conditioning coach who has worked with a ton of athletes throughout his career. 



In this video, coach Calcagno goes over what he calls the Chris abs, named after the person who showed him this drill. Chris abs is a very simple core exercise to help protect the core and the surrounding tissues of a wrestler. The workout is very simple and revolves around the crunch and two small variations on it. You are going to perform each of these three movements one after the other for 10 reps each. After compelling the crunches, you are then going to go into superman variations for 15 on each side.

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The first movement is going to be the very basic crunch. You are going to place your fingers on your temples lightly as you crunch. Make sure that you aren’t doing any pulling with your hands or fingers and that you are only placing them in position. Pulling will cause neck pain for the athlete down the line. 

After completing ten reps of standard churches you are immediately going to go into the net movement. The next two movements are twisting crunches, doing 10 reps on each side. First you are going to do a twisting crunch moving your left elbow to your right knee. First you are going to crunch up normally like with the last set, then you are going to twist. Move your left elbow to the side but do not try to touch that elbow to the opposite knee. Just try to get the other elbow to the floor. After doing ten full reps on one side, you are immediately going to do 10 full reps on the other side. 

Doing this will not only train the “front” of your core but also train the obliques, aka the muscles on the sides of your abs. These are muscles that can often be overlooked in most training programs. They are really important to train as they are the muscles that are working during twisting motions in wrestling. 

After completing those you are immediately going to flip over so you are facing the floor and your body is flat. From here you are going to do single side supermans, only lifting one arm and the opposite leg. Make sure that you get your quad and your arm all the way off the ground on each rep. You are then going to hold that position at the top for just a second. Unlike the set of crunches, you are going to alternate each side on each rep. You are going to do each side for a fifthteen reps meaning a total of 30 single side supermans. Doing this will train the lower back, which is actually a part of the core and is usually even more undertrained than the obliques. The low back needs to be stable to help you maintain a strong neutral spine during shots and other key parts of wrestling. Having a strong low back will also make it harder for your opponent to break your posture. 

Cowboy Strong: Building Functional Power by Gary Calcagno
If you like this video and want to learn more exercises from Gary Calcagno then check out his complete strength and conditioning video series “Cowboy Strong: Building Functional Power By Gary Calcagno” available exclusively on Fanatic Wrestling!