Ahh, the core. By now, everyone knows that in order to be athletic or have a long fitness career, you need a high level of core stability. We’ve often heard that athletes have strong cores – does this just mean that they can do 1000s of crunches a day?
Core training has been a hot topic, and has been around longer than I’ve been alive. Everyone understands the importance of having a resilient core, but not everyone understands how to train that way. Look around – girls training in corsets, dudes using a weight belt to squat and deadlift 135lbs, bodybuilders lifting 400lbs for reps then throwing their backs out lifting a bag of soil, etc.
Traditional core exercises such as sit-ups, side-bends and Russian twists all focus on creating motion through the lumbar spine. On the other side of that spectrum are anti-movement – which focuses on stability and prevention motion at the hips and spine. Mastering these = greater trunk stability = efficient force transfer between upper and lower body = more power and less injury. A core incapable of resisting force is a sure recipe to create back and hip pain, as well as inefficient force production.
Functions of the Core
- Stability during movement
- Force transmission
Think of your core as a cylinder – with multiple slings and ropes that connect in different directions – the stability of the whole depends on the strength and balance of these slings. The function of this cylinder is the basis of all sports and athletic movements. In fact, the sexy 6-pack muscles that most people train for, have limited influence on the overall stability of the core.
Drug Addicts – 6 packs, no core strength.
World Strongest Man – No 6-pack, able to squat the weight of a car without his spine blowing up
Pitfalls of Modern Core Training
Traditional core training neglects true stability, which is the involvement of the entire cylinder to stabilize; and seems to focus on just spinal flexion (crunches, leg raises, flutter kicks, etc). In fact, in terms of athletic performance, this is the direction with the least athletic carryover – how many times do you perform sit-ups in a game?
Also, there is an emphasis placed on endurance, and doing a million reps, versus feeling a mind-muscle connection. How many times have you tried P90X abs and felt more tightness in your hip flexors and your low back than your abs. This is like you performing squats and feeling it more in your upper body.
Core Training – Revised.
As mentioned before, the core functions as a cylinder, and
is responsible for stability in 360 degrees. Therefore, we need to train it in
all 3 planes of motion:
– Anti-Extension – Glute Bridge, Bird-Dogs, Deadbugs
– Anti-Rotation – Paloff Press, Banded Deadbugs, Chops/Lifts
– Anti-Lateral Flexion – Suitcase Carry, Single-Arm Deadlifts
These exercises will be posted on our Instagram (@thelabsportsmed) over the week so stay tuned!