Google core training and you get over 4 million hits. Every man and his dog has an opinion on core training.
Make it 4 million and one. 🙂
So what is “the core”exactly? Think about this for a moment.
The answer you’re likely to get is “it’s my six pack, dude.” However, the core is more complex than that. The core is essentially a set of muscles that extends far beyond your six pack and includes everything except your arms and legs.
Yes, that includes your chest, shoulders, back and butt.
So if you’re crunching away like a mad man (or woman) you’re doing yourself a huge disservice and should stop right now. Pretty please.
Doing crunches is just one wrong way people go about building core strength. Other mistakes include
- Hold their planks for too long or with poor form
- Spend too much of their training time admiring themselves in the mirror
- Wasting their time doing pointless exercises and totally skipping their core training altogether
So let’s avoid these mistakes by
- Putting core training into the main part of your training
- Adding movement and tension to your core stability exercises
- Using the entire core and not just your “abs”
There’s no need to rush off to a gym or buy one of those shoddy infomercial ab machines. All you need is you and your towel to wipe off the sweat.
Use the following tips to get the core you desire.
1. CORE INTERVAL TRAINING
Stuart M. McGill, PhD, Professor of Spine Biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, knows a thing or two about the core. If you don’t know who he is, look him up here.
Back in 2013, he improved the core stability and hip explosive power in NBA players by having them perform front/side planks after a treadmill sprint.
You can do something similar at home by using timed bodyweight movements combined with plank variations. Combining your strength, cardio and core into one training is something you’re sure to enjoy.
Trust me, I’m a trainer.
Perform the bodyweight exercise as quickly as you can with good form for 20 seconds. During the 10 second rest period get into your plank position and hold for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds.
Alternate between the two exercises for a total of 4 rounds of each and rest a minute between supersets.
If you’re game, complete the routine below.
1B. Front plank
2B. Side plank
4B. Side plank rotations *
*For the side planks and reverse lunges, one side = one round. Alternate sides
2. UPGRADING YOUR WARM UP
Your warm up is a perfect time to insert some low- medium intensity core exercises into the mix because
- You’re fresh and more likely to perform the movements correctly
- It turns on muscles responsible for spinal stability to help keep you injury free
- Your core training will be done and you will no longer have to dread it
Insert the following three exercises into your warm up to set yourself up for a fantastic training.
Perform these at the beginning of your warm up after foam rolling. Make sure to keep your low back in neutral and your chin tucked. Do for one-two minutes.
Silly name, great exercise. Perform these right after your heel touch following the same cues as the heel touch. Do six-eight reps on each side. Feel that? You’re welcome.
RKC front plank
This is not your everyday front plank. This is a total body challenge from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Maintaining this plank for longer than 10 seconds calls for your all-out effort.
Perform right at the end of your warm doing five sets of a 10 second hold with 20 seconds rest in between sets.
3. CORE FINSHER
If you have something left in the tank at the end of your training, try this diabolical four minute plank finisher.
Front plank/Side plank finisher
Hold a front plank for 15 seconds and then transfer into a side plank for 15 seconds. Then go back to the front plank for 15 seconds then transfer to the other side for a side plank for 15 seconds.
This is one round. Try to make it to four……… if you can.
Thinking outside the crunch can really benefit your core training. Now get after it and train that core!