Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ABSolutions : Get the Most Out of Your Core Training
  by Bob Wells, CPT, PES

Training the core is a ubiquitous concept, popularized by health magazines, such as SELF and Muscle and Fitness, as well as fitness professionals everywhere. As a result of such attention, most people attempt to incorporate core exercise into their training programs.

Still, most people still misunderstand the function and anatomy of the core and therefore do not know how to properly train it. These shortcomings can delay results or lead to injury.

However, after reading this brief article, I hope that you will have a better understanding of the core and how to properly train for it. This newly acquired knowledge and the sample exercises below will help you look better and perform better!

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) defines the core as the structures that make up the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC). Some of these structures are: the internal/external obliques, rectus abdominus, gluteus medius, hamstrings, and diaphragm. Although this list is not comprehensive, it should give you an idea about the variety of structures that make up the core.

An efficient core provides ideal neuromuscular efficiency throughout the entire body and allows for the best acceleration, deceleration, and dynamic stabilization during integrated, dynamic movements.

Adequate stability, strength, and power are important for reaching performance and aesthetic goals. However, it is detrimental to perform exercises incorrectly or choose ones that are too advanced since they can lead to an inefficient core.

An inefficient core can lead to altered movement patterns. These altered movement patterns eventually result in injury, the most common of which is low back related injury.

The proper progression is to begin with stabilization exercises. After you have established ample amounts of neuromuscular control of your core, you can then progress to strength. NASM guidelines suggest that you spend at least 4 weeks doing core strength exercises, before moving on to power exercises.

Below are sample exercises for each phase of training:

Stabilization: Plank
Stabilization: Plank w/ hip extension

Strength: Reverse Crunch (Start)
Strength : Reverse Crunch (Finish)
Strength : Stability Ball Sit up (Start)
Strength : Stability Ball Sit up (Finish)

Power : Overhead Throw (Finish)
Power : Overhead Throw (Start)

Many thanks to Mike Piraro and Ian Sample for modeling the exercises. Questions? Comments?

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