What Are the Best Core Exercises You Aren’t Doing?


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Aniol Ekai wants to play a key role in the future of CrossFit in Europe. He took the first step by qualifying for the 2024 Crossfit Games at the French Throwdown. Learn more about his quest to be a better athlete and a better human.

  • CrossFit training is built on a foundation of core-to-extremity movements, and a stronger core will make you better at CrossFit. Justin Adams from Rx Gymnastics Training has three exercises to help.

  • For some elite athletes, the CrossFit Games season is a family affair. Find out how these six sets of siblings have done so far.


“I didn’t do it because of CrossFit; I did it because of life. I felt like I had some things inside me that were not aligned with who I was or who I wanted to be.” - Spanish Games rookie Aniol Ekai on working to become a better human.


Credit: @madame__mel / Instagram

CrossFit Games Rookie Spotlight: How Being a Better Human Made Him a Better Athlete – The Aniol Ekai Story

The hotbed of CrossFit was initially in the United States and especially California, but the strength of the sport in Europe is clearly on the rise. 

  • From the packed LDLC Arena, where the 2024 European Semifinal took place with the passionate fans screaming for their countrymen and women, to the athletic prowess demonstrated on the competition floor, the future of CrossFit appears to be in Europe.

One man who hopes to play a role in that future is Aniol Ekai from Spain, who just finished fourth in the European Semifinal and earned a trip to Texas and the CrossFit Games. 

Ekai’s athletic background began when he was young, starting judo at three years old, soon followed by soccer. 

He discovered CrossFit in his teens.

  • Ekai explained how it started: “My sister had a friend doing CrossFit in their parent’s garage, and I visited them in the summer of 2013, when I was 15 years old, to get physically prepared for soccer. I would train three times a week in the off-season every year.”

This continued for several years until the tipping point—when Ekai began enjoying CrossFit more than soccer. 

His focus quickly shifted, and by 2020, he was seeing results. 

Getting Serious

That year, Ekai finished second in Spain in the CrossFit Open, but by the following year, he realized that to make the jump competitively, he needed a coach and a program to follow.


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💉🚫 In-Competition Drug Test Failures: The first batch of in-competition drug test results began filtering out last week through multiple channels. Ivan Kukartsev, winner of the Asia Semifinal, announced via Instagram that samples he gave at the event tested positive for banned compounds, including GW-1516, often called Endurobol.

  • Additionally, the Barbell Spin also reported last week that two other individuals and one team athlete (from Asia and North America East, respectively) also provided samples positive for banned substances, including Illias Kuliev, Anatolii Borisenko, and Tyler Lee.

📋⏱️Training Camp Coaching Changes: As we head into the final training push before the 2024 CrossFit Games, some key coaching changes have been announced. Keifer Lammi has joined the PRVN Training coaching staff, while Casey Acree was named Head of Programming at Underdogs Athletics.

🎟️📈 Known and Knowable Games Ticket Tracker: Mike Halpin, the mind behind Known & Knowable, is keeping an eye on the 2024 CrossFit Games ticket resale prices on StubHub, Vivid Seats, and Ticketmaster. If you are still hoping to get your hands on a couple, find the best available deals here.

ICYMI: The CrossFit community received some unhappy news last week, as Sean Woodland, the “Voice of the CrossFit Games,” was not asked back to call the 2024 Games in Fort Worth. We talked with him about his career (so far) and some of our (and his) favorite Sean moments.


Credit: Justin Adams (@rxgymnasticstraining / Instagram)

The 3 Best Core Exercises You Aren’t Doing (Yet)

Let’s be honest. 

We all want a stronger, more stable (and better-looking 😉) core.

Sit-ups will only get us so far. To have a truly strong and effective core, we have to do more.

But before we dive in, why is the core important?

CrossFit defines core-to-extremity movement in the Level 2 Certification Training Guide as a system that “begins with the large force-producing, low-velocity muscles of the core (abdominals and spinal erectors) and hips, and ends with the small force-producing, high-velocity muscles of the extremities (e.g., biceps, calves, wrist flexors).”

  • To make it much simpler: The big muscles of the core translate energy and movement to the smaller muscles of the arms and legs. Without this initiating force through the core, movement through the arms and legs is slow and weak.

Imagine throwing a punch. 

If I just try to extend my arm quickly using the muscles of the shoulder and triceps, it won’t do much damage to anything I’m trying to hit.

Now, look at a professional boxer. 

The movement of the punch actually starts at the hips, moves through the structure of the core, and then extends out through the arm. It is scary fast and incredibly dangerous.

That explains why core strength is so important, but how can you strengthen yours most effectively?


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Photo Credit: Dave Shenton

All in the Family: Siblings of the 2024 CrossFit Season

Families like the Andersens (Cody and Alex) and the Smiths (Ben, Alec, and Dane) have been competing since the early days of the CrossFit Games. Ben Smith, the eldest, even earned the title of Fittest on Earth in 2015. 

  • Sisters Allison and Brittany Weiss have both won different divisions. Allison paved the way in the teen division in 2015 and won the Girls 16-17 division in 2016. Brittany followed suit as a team athlete, winning the Affiliate Cup with CrossFit Invictus in 2023. 

This tradition hasn’t died out in recent years — if anything, it’s only grown. Below, we’re highlighting six sets of siblings who have competed throughout the 2024 season. Though not all of them qualified for the Games this summer, each family has at least one member heading to the big stage in Forth Worth.

Here are a few: 

The Panchik brothers: Having competed in 10 CrossFit Games, the most recent being in the 35-39 Age Group Division, of which he won, eldest brother Scott Panchik left big shoes to fill for his younger brothers, twins Saxon and Spencer. 

  • This year, Scott has taken the entire season off from competition. 

Spencer competed at the Games in 2023 and 2022 but could not qualify out of the 2024 North America West Semifinal. 

Saxon, however, took seventh place at the Syndicate Crown. After failing to qualify last year, he will be the only Panchik brother competing in Fort Worth at his sixth CrossFit Games.

The Wells sisters: Like the Panchik brothers, Brooke and Sydney Wells swapped out qualifying spots from 2023 to 2024. 

In 2023, Brooke barely missed out on qualifying for the Games from the North America East Semifinal.


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • 👏Congratulations to Kaylie from Hancock CrossFit in New Palestine, IN, on her first bar muscle-up.

  • Check out this complex from MarieAnne. 🙌 Someone’s ready for Grid League!

  • Great job to the Radosta family of Florida on the deadlift PRs.

  • Nice work to Kloie Wilson on the two split jerks at 111 kilos/245 pounds.

  • ⭐️Great work to everyone at CrossFit Fort Vancouver for tackling “Hotshots 19” on Friday, and for commemorating the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team of June 30, 2013.