Michael Olajide Jr, shirtless with visible abs, leans against a corrugated roller door.
Michael Olajide Jr.

To crunch or to punch? The best moves for a killer core

Michael Olajide Jr.

There’s a fair bit of confusion about what’s best when it comes to creating toned, defined abs. With about a million suggested exercises out there, crunches are the most familiar go-to.

Sorry to tell you, but that’s not quite enough.

The common crunch will activate the rectus abdominis, the long, close-to-the-surface core muscle which runs from your ribcage to your pubic bone. But your ‘core’ is made up of a number of other muscles that also need to be switched on to pack the best punch when it comes to core strength.

Speaking of punches: want to know a fast, effective and all-over move to get the strong, toned abs you’ve been dreaming of? Boxing!

Moves that hit the whole body

If you’re familiar with any of Michael Olajide Jr.’s workouts, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

Boxing is pretty much the all-around exercise. It delivers total-body benefits. As Michael says, “You take the getting hit part out of boxing and it's just like the perfect thing for the human body.” The fast pace elevates your heart rate for a great cardio workout, it strengthens a bunch of different muscle groups including your shoulders, back, arms, core and legs and its high intensity makes it fantastic for blasting fat!

Michael Olajide Jr, wearing a red shirt, practicing his uppercut punches.

Keep that core tight!

How and why it’s great for your core

A powerful punch doesn’t come from strong arms and shoulders alone. It comes from a transfer of power. Energy from the legs goes up through the core and into the extension of the arms – and the core is responsible for coordinating the delivery of power into the punch.

Just think of all the bracing and rotating through your mid-section during a boxing session. That’s what we’re talking about.

This transfer of power engages the whole series of your core muscles – the rectus abdominis, the transverse abdominis, the erector spinae and the external obliques – making the core the vital link in each boxing movement.

New to the boxing game?

Don’t worry: you don’t need to be a seasoned boxing pro to reap the benefits of Michael’s training. Simply follow his instruction to learn a good punch technique that engages the core muscles correctly and you’ll be on your way to powerful abs.

Once you pop, it doesn’t stop

Just like any other muscle group, in order to see the toned, defined abs you’ve been working on, you also need to burn away the layer of fat that covers them. Because boxing is a high-calorie burn workout, you’ll do just that. We’d call that a double win!

A few of Michael’s other signature moves target the core, too. You can try:

  • Skipping: a full body workout that burns calories while making you use your abdominals to stabilize the body while jumping.
  • Plank: a great stabilization exercise that engages all core muscles to improve strength and posture.
  • Whale tail: contracts and releases the obliques at both sides of the body while engaging the other core muscles in a strength-boosting hold position.
  • V-slip: brace all abdominal muscles to duck and weave side to side, challenging the direction of movement and getting a good core burn.
  • Leg raises: engage the hard-to-target lower section of your core muscles as well as the deep transverse abdominis muscles to control range of motion and strengthen through the abs.

Michael Olajide Jr.

The pioneer of boxing for fitness, Michael Olajide Jr. has trained supermodels and turned actors into on-screen boxers. Famed for his silky moves, he was the No.1 contender for middleweight world champion until an eye injury ended his career. Michael melds shadow boxing, jump rope and HIIT to train the body, and uses ‘the world’s most calming voice’ to train the mind.

Michael Olajide Jr.


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