How to properly and effectively train the core
When most people think of training the core they think of exercises such as sit-ups, crunches and leg raises. These exercises work the abdominals in trunk flexion (bending forward at your waist, ex. sit-ups, crunches) and hip flexion (bringing your knees up towards your chest, ex. leg raises, v-ups). While the abdominals can perform these functions that is not their primary role.
These exercises are also not very functional, don’t create in my opinion a good training response and can be hard on the lumbar spine (lower back). These types of exercises are not in any of my clients training programs and probably never will be.
The abdominals and core primarily work mainly in a stabilization role to support the spine and trunk of the body. So instead of movements training the abdominals and core with exercises that do trunk and hip flexion I instead train them with my clients (general fitness and athletes) in their primary role of stabilization.
The core works to stabilize the trunk of the body and spine in 3 main ways
1) Anti-extension. Working to prevent excessive extending of the back. Examples = front planks, push-ups, TRX or physio-ball rollouts, inverted rows, push-up holds
2) Anti-lateral flexion. Working to prevent the trunk and core from flexing or bending to the side. Examples = Side planks, exercises done in a half kneeling position, unbalanced carries
3) Anti-rotation. Working to prevent the trunk and core from rotating or turning to either side. Examples = anti-rotation band holds, shoulder-taps, lateral bear crawls, chops
So instead of training your core with traditional abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, crunches and leg raises train it instead with exercises that work them performing their primary function. You will get much more benefit from them, get more muscles involved (especially your glutes) and get a lot more bang for your buck when training.
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