Real Core Training Part Four
Like everything in the fitness world, core training has evolved. When I bought my first bodybuilding magazine in the late 90s, the word “core” wasn’t even used. Instead, you would find ab workouts, oblique workouts, and sometime, low back workouts. Like pretty much everything in the 90s, muscles were trained in isolation with little concern for how the musculoskeletal system was designed to function as a unit. We have come a long way in our understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention/reduction.
The core used to be trained and often still is through movement: flexion (anterior), lateral flexion, extension, and rotation. Sit ups, crunches, side bends, and Russian twists aim to strengthen the muscles concentrically and eccentrically. These build mass and thickness to the core musculature. The second way we train the core is to recognize it as a stabilizer of the low back and hips. This involves training this musculature to resist movement. When it comes to increasing strength, power, speed, and reducing injury, this training is more important than dynamically training the core. This style of training is referred to as “anti-core training” because we are resisting flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation. The other benefit of anti-core training is that it involves isometric contractions which are much less likely to create muscle hypertrophy, which individuals typically don’t want in their waist. I typically recommend that 70-90% of your core training consist of anti-core work depending on your health/injury history and goals.
The key to good core training is understanding what you are trying to accomplish, as well as how to progress or regress the movement. Here are the some of our favorites that we use at Fenton Fitness for each of the four anti-core categories.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
Tall Kneeling Pallof Press: Grab some elastic tubing or a cable (anchored to something sturdy) and assume a tall kneeling position. Hold with both hands and press outward away from body. Do not allow your body to twist or rotate. Increase load or stretch on tubing to increase difficulty. Work up to 12 reps per side.
Half Kneeling Pallof Press: Set up in a half kneeling position. Use the same execution as the tall kneeling version. Make sure that you don’t allow your legs/hips to lean or twist. Work up to 12 reps per side.
Standing Pallof Press: Assume an athletic stance with your feet just outside of shoulder width, slight bend in the knees, and slightly flexed at the hips. Execute the same movement as you would for the tall or half kneeling Pallof press. Work up to 12 reps per side.
One Leg Pallof Press: Stand on one leg with the other leg flexed at 90 degrees at the foot, knee, and hip. Execute the Pallof press the same way as the standing Pallof press. This is a much more a balance and overall body stability drill. Tension/resistance will need to be reduced. Be slow and gradual with your increases in load, volume, or frequency to allow your knee time to adapt. Work up to 12 reps per side.
PUPP with alternating arm raise: Assume a push up position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Raise one arm out in front of your body while maintaining spine and pelvic positions. A wider feet position makes the movement more stable and easier, while a narrower foot position increases difficulty. You can also slow the movement to increase difficulty. Remember, top priority is no hip/spine movement before trying to increase difficulty. Work up to 10 per side.
Landmine Anti-Rotations: Place a barbell in a landmine and assume an athletic position. Press the landmine away from your body and slowly make a rainbow arching pattern moving the barbell from one hip to the other. Make sure that only your shoulder/elbow joints move, everything else stays stiff. Work up to 10 reps per side.
Crawl: Get on your hands and knees with your toes dug into the ground. Lift your knees slightly off the ground. Keeping your back flat and stable, move your opposite hand and foot to crawl forward or backward. Work up to 50 yards.
For video demonstration of these exercises, click here