Sarah Cremen – Personal Training Sarah Cremen – Personal Training

How To Train Your Core Properly – Part I

How To Train Your Core Properly – Part I

Core training has come a long way in the last few years but commercial gyms are still populated with ab cradles and weighted back extension machines aplenty and magazines are awash with “1,000 sit ups a day” challenges.

The reality is that the presence of a six pack has very little correlation to how strong your core is or how well it functions, and while all the crunches in the world might leave you feeling the burn, they are relatively ineffective and can be hazardous to the health of your spine.

The Core 101

What Is It?

Despite many people’s associations with the word, your core consists of so much more than your rectus abdominis or six pack muscles; it is a network of deep stabilisation and superficial movement muscles, your centre of gravity and from where all movement begins.

What Does It Do?

The muscles that make up your core have three important functions;to

  1. to act as isometric and dynamic stabilisers for movement
  2. to transfer force from one extremity to anotherto
  3. to initiate movement itself

Training your core a prime mover alone (crunches, sit ups etc.) means that the deeper, stabilising muscles are getting neglected for the more superficial ones and you are missing out on developing the above functions.

Essentially, the core should be trained to protect the spine and surrounding musculature from injury while performing static and dynamic movements.

For example, if you need to be able to run, lift weights or even just pick your kid up without throwing your back out…you need the ability to effectively produce and transfer force, while maintaining stability in your spine.

How Should You Train It?

It could be argued that if you train closed-chain, compound movements in your workouts (squats, deadlifts etc.) you don’t need to directly work your core, but while these lifts are undoubtedly beneficial and effective in their own right, I believe that specific training to targets imbalances, weaknesses and alignment issues, has its place too.

If you want to be a functional and strong human being, please, throw out the ab cradles and start challenging your core in all three planes of motion. Add anti-extension, anti-rotation and anti-lateral flexion exercises to your workouts and your body will thank you for it!

Exercising Your Core - The Options

Core Exercises fall into four categories:

  • Anti-Extension
  • Anti-Rotation
  • Anti-Lateral Flexion
  • Hip Flexion With A Neutral Spine

Anti-Extension

At a Glance

  • Examples

    Dead Bugs, Roll Outs & Plank Variations

  • Focus

    To maintain a neutral spine & actively resist extension at your lower back.

    Good for developing stability in your lumbar spine & pelvis.

Anti-Rotation

At a Glance

  • Examples

    Pallof Press, Three-Point Dumbbell Row, Single Arm Chest Press

  • Focus

    To actively resist unwanted movement (rotation) in the lumbar spine.

    Thoracic spine rotation is important for general mobility, but the lumbar spine functions primarily as a stabiliser, therefore needs more strength & stability & less movement.

Anti-Lateral Flexion

At a Glance

  • Examples

    Side Plank, Waiter’s Carry, Farmer’s Walks

  • Focus

    To actively resist later flexion or side bending at your lumber spine.Great for developing strength in your lateral core, specifically your internal & external obliques & quadratus lumbordum.

    Great for developing strength in your lateral core, specifically your internal & external obliques & quadratus lumbordum.

Hip Flexion With A Neutral Spine

At a Glance

  • Examples

    Jack-Knives, Pikes, Hanging Knee Raises

  • Focus

    To maintain a neutral lumbar spine while simultaneously flexing at the hips.

    Learning how to flex at the hips without rounding or tucking under at the lower back carries over nicely to optimising your seated position at work & avoiding slumping into your chair for hours on end!

How Should You Train It?

It could be argued that if you train closed-chain, compound movements in your workouts (squats, deadlifts etc.) you don’t need to directly work your core, but while these lifts are undoubtedly beneficial and effective in their own right, I believe that specific training to targets imbalances, weaknesses and alignment issues, has its place too.

If you want to be a functional and strong human being, please, throw out the ab cradles and start challenging your core in all three planes of motion. Add anti-extension, anti-rotation and anti-lateral flexion exercises to your workouts and your body will thank you for it!

Get In Touch

We'd love to hear what you think about the article.

Drop Us A Line

Contact 

CALL: +353 85 142 4394

VISIT: 6 Harlech Grove, Clonskeagh, Dublin 4

Connect

Share Article: