I personally think there’s a lot of confusion out there about what the “core” actually is.
How and when to train this area is also a source of confusion for many people. There is a ton of myths and half truths swirling around regarding this very subject
So I thought I would give you my take on the topic…
What Is The “Core”?
Most people think of the core as only the superficial ab muscles…the one’s you can see in the mirror. The so-called “6-pack” muscles.
Your core is actually the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex. It is made up of approximately 29 muscles that include:
- Deep abdominals
- Deep spinal musculature
- Hip flexor group
The biggest misconception, in my opinion, is that you can only strengthen this area with sit-ups, crunches or leg lifts. This couldn’t be FARTHER from the truth!
Sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, etc can actually do more HARM the good and in my opinion, a waste of time.
The core is where the human body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement begins. Proper development of the core musculature will result in more efficient movement patterns and optimal performance.
Efficient movement equals less chance of injuries, muscle imbalances and off the couch.
When Should I Train The “Core”?
It is important to remember that the core musculature “fires” at the start of any movement.
Anytime you initiate a movement the musculature of the core fires to stabilize your trunk and body. Therefore, it makes sense that it is developed to its optimal level and should be performed at the beginning of your workout.
If your core is weak, not activated and/or untrained it leads to inefficient movements that could lead to injuries or patterns of injuries.
That means BACK on the couch. : (
Core training, training the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex, provides intrinsic stability (think of an internal weight belt or internal support) which allows for optimum efficiency of the rest of the body.
How Should I Train The Core?
Core training should emphasize the entire muscle contraction spectrum:
1.) Stabilization: Isometric Contraction – maintaining a static position for a certain period of time. Think of any type of plank. Examples:
- Fore-arm plank
- High plank
- Side planks
- Stability Ball Plank Variations
- Stability Ball Hip Bridge
- Stability Ball Cobra
- Suspension Trainer (feet in) plank
2.) Force Production: Concentric Contraction – shortening the muscle against resistance. Think of hip flexion, extension and lateral movements. Examples:
- Glute/Hip bridging – floor, stability ball, Suspension Trainer
- Glute/Ham raises
- Stability ball Back Extensions
3.) Force Reduction: Eccentric Contraction – elongating the muscle against resistance. Think “stretching” your body with resistance. Examples:
- Roll-outs with ab wheel or stability ball
- Stability ball Jackknife
- Stability ball Reverse Curl-ups
- Suspension Trainer knee-ns
- Suspension Trainer Jackknife
4.) Rotational Force: Rotational/Diagonal Patterns. Think twisting and rotating the trunk. Examples:
- Medicine ball Diagonal Chop/Lift
- Cable Diagonal lift/Chop
- Stability ball Skiers
- Stability ball rotational knee-ins
- Suspension Trainer rotational knee-ins
5.) Neuromuscular Stabilization: Think balance
Neuromuscular Stabilization enables the body’s neuromuscular system to synergistically produce force, reduce force and dynamically stabilize the entire kinetic chain (body) in all 3 planes of motion.
Neuromuscular efficiency enables a person to maintain balance during functional movement patterns whether on the field of play or in day to day activities. In addition neuromuscular stabilization increases your coordination and decreases the chance of injury.
Balance is a component of all movement whether strength, speed, skill or flexibility dominates the movement in question. Examples:
- 1 leg Med ball squat, toss & catch
- 1 leg squat, touch & reach
- Dynamic single squats (3 planes)
It is very important to include all 5 of these types of contractions when training the core.
So you’re probably asking yourself…
“When am I going to fit all of this in?”
Pick 1 exercise from each type of contraction above. Perform it for 30-60 seconds, then immediately move to the next exercise without rest and complete the movement for 30-60 seconds and so forth.
That’s NO MORE than 5 minutes total. Do this five minute circuit as part of your movement prep and you are good to go.
A matter a fact, if you are exercising properly – Training explosively, using 1 arm/1 leg, total body movements – you’ll have a much greater impact (10x’s more!) on the core than doing 100’s of sit-ups or crunches.
So now you know and it’s FINALLY time to put an end to the 30 minute “ab workouts”, ab rollers, crunches, sit-ups or anything else you are waisting your time with. : )
Committed to YOUR fat loss success,
P.S. If you have any questions or concerns, leave me a comment below or feel free to head over to my Facebook page to ask…
P.P.S. Also, feel free to share this post with any one you think might benefit. I know they will appreciate it.