“APPLES HAVE CORES, TREES HAVE TRUNKS.”
It’s the middle, it connects the top to the bottom and it is hugely important, the core and as we’ll also address it, the mid-line.
WHAT IS IT?
Let’s begin by recognizing what the core is. The Six Pack! Most definitely not, however, it is a part of the midline.
The bodybuilders among us may address it in isolated areas, while the lifters, the heavy and the functional athletes will rather see lines of power transfer and areas of tension building for stabilization.
It is in the middle, on the front on the sides and the back, the core connects the tips of your toes all the way to the tips of our fingers. Fascia muscles bone, all working together taking part in almost every movement of your body.
For visualization think of the muscles you see on the surface, for example, the rectus abdominis (aka the six-pack aka the abs) connecting the abdomen to the ribs, then consider the lats embracing from the upper back (influencing the shoulders) all the way down the lower back, just to name a few.
And now consider following, you have muscles in multiple layers. Layers underneath connecting your core to the arms and legs. It all works together.
Squeezing the glutes stabilises the lower back and protects the spine.
Or another example, when stretching your back, try bringing your chin onto your chest, some of us will feel the stretch all along the spine, some even all the way down their calves.
The core unites your body by transferring power from A to B and holding it together.
STRENGTH AND STABILITY IN MOVEMENT
In training, it is fundamental to move well and with good form, bad movement is a quick way to injury.
A common area of injury is the back, most of us will have already heard about such cases and what sort of pain and work takes place until it is cured. One can hurt their back in movements with or without weights, here some examples where a relaxed core during exercise will hurt the spine badly: Back Squats, DeadLifts, Jerks, Heavy Lunges, Kipping PullUps, HandStand PushUps, PushUps, Burpees, HandStand Walk, Tire Flips.
Without core tension the weight can bend the spine into places it is not meant to be. And power transfer of such kind can not be good for anybody.
Bottom line, keep the core always in focus, stability enables us execution of movements. When Squatting, the strength of your legs get to the bar through the core, when pushing weights into overhead, once more, somehow power needs to find its way to the legs to the floor, and it is through the core.
Think even Gymnasts, who are known for in proportion to their upper body relatively weak legs, they also develop trunks to transmit the impulse the swing from hips to arms and from arms to hips.
As always … Many ways of doing it! Whether direct or indirect, it is certain that one style only won’t be enough, won’t be useful on its own.
Isolated movements are useful to target specific groups, get a better awareness of where they are and develop some strength in mowing them.
Static holds (isometric exercise) are useful in learning to build and maintain tension for stability in whichever position you end up being in.
And of course dynamic movements, here you perform complex movements like Overhead Squats, double KettleBell Front Squats, Dips and so on, where the core has to work in keeping it all together, balanced with good form of movement, while also working and moving.
SUGGESTIONS AND EXAMPLES FOR YOUR INSPIRATION
Here I want to share just a few of the many many … … … MANY!
Possible exercises and formats. You can always get creative in sneaking some extra core training into your sessions.
TABATA: 8 rounds 20 sec work + 10 sec rest, for a total of 4 minutes
|Workout 1||Workout 2||Workout 3|
|1. Mountain Climbers|
2. PushUp Hold + Shoulder Taps
|1. Russian Twists|
2. Flutter Kicks
|1. Hollow Hold
2. Arch Hold
|1. Plank Hold Right Arm|
2. Plank Hold Left Arm
3. Pike Raises
|1. Hanging L-Sit
2. Knees to Elbows
|1. Pallof Press|
2. Lat PushDown
3. Face Pull Right Arm
4. Face Pull Left Arm
I suggest you use rubber bands for this one.
|1. Hollow Hold|
2. Hollow Rock
3. Arch Hold
4. Arch Rock
2. Plank Hold
3. Reverse Snow Angels
4. Windshield Wipers
These are just a few examples, try them out, compose your own, get creative.
Regardless of your level, exercises are scalable.
Targeted movements to strengthen our trunk. Perform them on their own in sets like 5×5 or any other combination depending on the aspect you’re targeting (strength or endurance)
- BarBell RollOuts: off the toes, off the knees, halfway, all the way of extension
- Toes to Bar: strict, kipping, halfway, knees to elbows, high knees strict or kipping
- Russian Twists: experiment with weight and tempo
- Back extensions: either on the floor or on a GHD, with or without weights
- Bent over Rows: with DumbBells, KettleBells, Barbell, both sides or separate
- Sandbag/Atlas Stone Squats: Keep it on the chest, don’t let it hang
Dynamic movements, here we keep the entire body in focus and want a strong and stable core. With the following we can get our mid-line properly tired
Sandbag/Atlas Stone Squats: Keep it on the chest, don’t let it hang
Front Squats: with Barbell, KettleBells double or goblet, or Dumbbells too
Overhead Squats: use plates for weights or hang Kettlebells on rubber bands, work dynamic stability
Carries: KettleBells in Farmers Rack, SandBag, Yoke
Sled Push: want the power of your legs to transfer to the sled? Better use your core right