Over used and under coached, the word ”core” represents as much grey as it does back or white in the fitness industry. The world of “core “ is full of gimmicks and quick fixes. If you do more sit ups than you can count and still haven’t seen a 6 pack maybe your as confused as a cow on astroturf!!
So what’s all the confusion about?? Is it because the muscles of your midsection have so many functions and are responsible for so many movements, or is it the infinite number of ab exercise choices; it could also be all those TV commercials offering the new secret ab weapon of €30.
So let’s bring you into the light and shine a ray of logic and honesty on your training.
I’m not going to bore you with muscle groups however it vital you understand the muscle of your midsection and their purpose.
Now let’s keep this very basic to start –
Think of your core as a box – the diaphragm is on the top and the pelvic floor is on the bottom. The abdominals (rectus abdominals and transverse abdominals) in the front and the spinal erector and multifidus in the back. The sides are made up of lateral muscles such as internal and external obliques and the Quadrates Lumborum.
So now you see that your core goes beyond just your 6 pack – Let’s amp up the definition slightly –
Your core is a complex series of muscles extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. It is incorporated in almost every movement in the body. These muscles can act as an isometric or dynamic stabiliser for movement, transfer of force from one extremity to another, or initiate movement itself. Our core has three dimensional depth and functional movement in all three planes of motion. Now this is where many people miss a trick, many of the muscles are hidden beneath the exterior musculature people typically train. The deeper muscles include the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor and other deeper muscles.
Enter the common mistake!!
Many people overtrain the core as a prime mover and in isolation, think crunches, back extensions and leg raises. people under train what the core more frequently does, which is acting as a stabiliser and force transfer centre. When following a well designed core program the core would be trained through a systematic range of exercises that challenge your body as an integrated unit from your fingers to toes.
So where do I start?
This is a simple coaching technique I use and it applies beautifully to training your midsection. It provides progression and sequencing to your programming.
- Learn how to breath properly and brace your abs.
- Have a good relationship between your glutes and core and how to create tension to protect your spine.
- Develop wrist strength, straight arm strength and scapular control.
- Learn to create stability while creating full body tension eg plank variations
- Once you have achieved everything in the” must” category, you should be able to perform exercises like the rkc plank, moving plank variations, tuck holds, plank rows, walkouts, palloff press etc….
- Once you have achieved a good level of experience and developed the strength and endurance you could start to follow the progressions to perform exercises such as levers, L sits, flags and other advanced exercises.
Forge a good relationship!!
Your glutes and your core are meant to be together. The disconnection however has never been greater than in a world of modern day seated civilisation and bad posture. The best marriage councillor is barbell hip thrusters 😨😨 Expecting your core to perform without your glutes is like asking a car to run without oil!! The words “ gut and butt” should be the common language in your gym to create tension. That tension directly effects your strength. That strength will carry directly to other lifts in the gym. When I finally started to nail front levers I also had big jump in my deadlift numbers.
It is important to first achieve core stability to protect the spine and surrounding musculature from injury in static then dynamic movements. Secondly we want to effectively and efficiently transfer and produce force during dynamic movements while maintaining core stability. Think running, Kettlebell training or even carrying shopping from the car trunk. Essentially you are insuring that you are stable to move!!!
- Anti rotation
- Lateral flexion
- Lateral extension
- Flexion and extension
- Loaded carries
They all have a place – our core needs to be trained in a variety of different ways to develop true strength. As I’ve mentioned already having an over reliance on isolation and concentric based exercises will leave us short. Offsetting core exercises creates a force that is pulling the other way and you need to engage one side of the body to assist you in stabilising the weight. Think single arm loaded carries, palloff press or band exercises. The other benefits of these type of exercises is that you can load more weight and get stronger.
Get a grip
I also love training grip and core at the one time as the grip is often a limiting factor to strength. How many times has your grip left you down with your deadlift or while playing on the monkey bars?? Exercises like hanging knee raises, stick climbs or suitcase carries will challenge your grip and core in equal measures.
If you are looking for a comprehensive program will help you develop and create a midsection that looks good and performs even better, sign up to my OBF Core Online program today. Email Adrian TODAY To Sign Up