Real Core Training Part Two
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
Bent Knee Side Plank
Lay on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder and line your knees up below your hips. Lift your hips off the ground and hold. Work up to 45 seconds.
Lay on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder and straighten your legs out. Stack your legs on top of each other and lift your hips off the ground. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
Side Plank with Top Leg Elevated
Position yourself in the same set up as the side plank. Once your hips are lifted off the ground, you will move your top leg away from the bottom leg. Make sure that you don’t flex either hip when raising the top leg. Work up to 30 seconds.
Side Plank with Top Leg on Bench
Lay on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder. Place your top leg on top of a bench. Lift your hips off the ground. The bottom leg can squeeze the bottom of the bench or dangle in the air.
Grab a KB/DB in one hand, stand tall, and maintain a neutral lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine position. Make sure your shoulder blades stay down and back. If possible, watch yourself in the mirror to ensure you aren’t leaning. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
Assume the same set up as the suitcase hold. Start walking with a normal gait. Make sure to not lean excessively. Start with 20 yards per side and work up to 100 yards.
For video demonstration of these exercises, click here