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Understanding Core Training

 

Core training has become a popular fitness trend in recent years and a common method of training used by personal trainers.

This blog posting is aimed to help you readers understand the importance and benefits of core training and also grasp an idea of how to train your core in its entirety.

The objective of core training is to strengthen the muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back. This SHOULD be your rationale behind your core training. 

“The objective of core training is to strengthen the muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body”

It must be said that when most people train their core, it’s with the intention of developing visible abdominals. In which case body composition/body fat mass is the biggest affecting factor, and therefore extensive core training will only be effective in conjunction with maintaining a calorie deficit to get your wash-board abs; In other words start training your core to prevent injury, enhance your strength training, and improve your overall movement and STOP training your core to get a six-pack, that effort would be better spent fixing your nutrition.

Historically, physical therapists prescribed core exercises for patients with low-back problems, and more recently core training has become popular among athletes, heavy lifters and regular ‘gym-goers’ to help improve performance.

Core training is now commonly incorporated into all types of exercise programs to help achieve goals ranging from a flatter midsection, heavier lifting and rehab/pre-habilitative treatment in avoiding or improving various injuries.

A properly designed core training program will help you gain neuromuscular control, stability, muscular endurance, strength, and power of the core which will only help you to achieve your goals more quickly independent of what those goals might be.

Core Concepts

In training the core it’s important to have a basic understanding of anatomy. The core is defined by the structures that make up the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC), including the lumbar spine, the pelvic girdle, abdomen, and the hip joint. So, your core consists of way more than just your abs!! Your core is where the body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement originates. Your core consists of 3 systems: STABILITY (local stabilization system), STRENGTH (global stabilization system) and POWER (movement systems).

These systems are basically responsible for the following:

STABILITY – is primarily responsible for working to limit excessive compressive and rotational forces placed on your spine, thus increasing spinal stiffness, which is important in counteracting external forces on the body, i.e. catching, balancing, and counteracting during movement. This includes your transverse abdominis, internal obliques, lumbar, pelvic floor muscles and diaphragm.

STRENGTH – primarily responsible for transferring loads between the upper extremity and lower extremity, which basically consists of picking stuff up and putting stuff down. This includes your Quadratus Lumborum, Psoas, External Obliques, Rectus Abdominis, Gluteus Medius and your Adductor Complex.

POWER – this system is primarily responsible for concentric force production and eccentric deceleration during dynamic activities, a few examples are accelerating to a sprint and decelerating to a stop, jumping up in the air and landing on the ground, walking up stairs and walking downstairs. This includes the latissimus dorsi, hip flexors, hamstring complex, and quadriceps.

Training your core in its entirety is necessary for maintaining proper muscle balance throughout your entire human movement system. If the core’s power system musculature is strong and the stabilization systems are weak, the human movement system senses imbalance and forces are not transferred or used properly. This all may result in compensation, synergistic dominance, and inefficient movements and inevitably INJURIES. Basically, if you don’t train your core properly you are massively neglecting your training. 

“Training your core in its entirety is necessary for maintaining proper muscle balance throughout your entire human movement system. If the core’s power system musculature is strong and the stabilization systems are weak, the human movement system senses imbalance and forces are not transferred or used properly.”

An example might be an extremely athletic young athlete, who has a strong power system but an undertrained stability or strength system. They are more likely to get injured. That’s why we see a lot of explosive young athletes get hurt in sports, because their foundational core systems aren’t developed! 

In training, quality of movement should be stressed over quantity, and the focus of programs should be on function not aesthetic! The following is a core training program that covers all your bases and is progressed and regressed to various abilities. Throw this in at the beginning or end or your workouts or at home while you’re feeling productive: 

 

CORE-Stabilization
Beginner:

 

Floor Bridge Marching x 16 Reps (8ea)

 

Two-Leg Floor Bridge x 12

 

Floor Prone Cobra x 12

 

Plank x 30 Seconds

  

REPEAT 1-3 Times

 

Intermediate:

 

Bosu Bird Dog x 20 (10ea)

 

Dead Bug x 20 (10ea)

 

Prone Angels (with or without weight)

 

Side Plank (30-60 Sec)

 

REPEAT 3-6 Times

 

Advanced:

 

Bird Dog from a Push up Position x 20 (10ea)

 

Single Leg RDL (with or without weight) x 20 (10ea)

 

Rotational Plank x 16

 

Inverted Row Hold (30-60 Sec)

 

REPEAT 3-6 Times

 

CORE-Strength
Beginner:

 

Ball Crunch x 12

 

Back Extension x 12

 

Reverse Crunch x 12

 

Standing Cable Rotation x 20 (10ea)

 

REPEAT 1-3 Times

 

 

Intermediate:

 

Straight Leg Toe Touches x 20

 

Straight Leg Deadlift x 10-15

 

Straight Leg-Leg Lifts x 15

 

Straight Leg Windshield Wipers x 20 (10ea)

 

REPEAT 3-6 Times

 

Advanced:

 

V-ups x 12-20

 

Reverse Hyperextension x 10-15

 

Hanging Leg Lifts (toes to bar) x 10-15

 

Hanging Windshield Wipers x 10-15

 

REPEAT 3-6 Times

 

CORE-Power
Beginner:

 

The power component of training should be for intermediate to advanced participants only! Build up your foundational core strength first!

 

Intermediate:

 

Rotational Med ball Slam x 5-8

 

Med Ball Pullover Throw x 5-8 ea

 

Med Ball Slams x 5-8

 

KB Swing x 5-12

 

REPEAT 3-6 Times

 

 

Advanced:

 

Med Ball Lateral hop to throw x 5-8 ea

 

Med Ball Pullover Throw to Stand up x 5-8 ea

 

Med Ball Slams to box Jump x 5-8

 

Single Arm/ Forward walking KB Swing x 5-12

 

 

REPEAT 3-6 Times

 

 

Written By: RNG Personal Trainer Ashley Dunwell, MS, NASM-CPT

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