Are you sure that you are getting everything you can out of your core routine? With all of the new developments in core training, it's difficult to keep up with the latest and most effective tools and techniques. Though the core has become a mainstream concept, most exercisers have a clouded view of what exactly the core consists of, its importance and what the best ways are to activate it.
The core includes the following muscles: Transverse Abdominis, Rectus Abdominis, Multifidus, External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum and Erector Spinae. It provides a stable platform which launches all of our movement by stabilizing the spine. The core generates the rotational forces needed for many athletic movements including throwing, swinging, striking and twisting. It acts to resist or neutralize external forces such as gravity, contact or momentum. We are only as strong as our core. A weak core limits our strength capacity.
Four Tools to add to your Core Training Routine
TRX Suspension Trainer™
The TRX® is one of the most innovative additions to core training in recent years. It's a non-elastic, adjustable harness constructed of industrial-strength, nylon webbing which uses bodyweight as the sole source of variable resistance. The TRX allows for hundreds of exercises that can accommodate all fitness levels. It integrates the core's postural, stabilizer and neutralizer components in all of its exercises and the addition of the suspended planks, crunches and oblique capabilities make it one of the most effective tools on the market.
The stability ball creates an unstable environment that requires more work from the core. Simple yet demanding, the stability ball can be used to add challenge to many exercises and modify others.
Most modern heavy balls are constructed of a textured rubber that is made to bounce. Heavy balls are the perfect exercise tool when training the core to control external forces, to stabilize the body while applying internal forces, and when working at higher speeds.
Balance devices come in all shapes and sizes: wobble boards, balance discs, Bosu™ balls, Bongo™ boards and foam balance surfaces. They all destabilize the surface using a base of support in one way or another, making the core more responsive. A word of caution: Always evaluate possible danger versus potential benefit before attempting any exercise that destabilizes your base of support.
Fun and Challenging Exercises
The following six movements utilize some of the tools outlined above and offer a complete core training package. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced versions to address a broad range of abilities.
Prone Rollout (Stability Ball or TRX)
Click Here for Demo
In a kneeling position, place hands on Stability Ball or TRX handles with elbows bent and hands positioned below chest. Assume tall posture and actively engage the core. Tilt body forward slowly transferring the weight into the hands. Slowly extend arms opening body as far as possible. Ensure that the body stays in a straight line and make sure the hips do not sag towards the ground. Stop where the core is challenged, but not overwhelmed and then reverse action, returning to the start position. The entire range of motion is very small (not greater than one foot of movement), and the movement speed is slow and controlled.
Beginner: Small range of motion
Intermediate: Deeper extension and longer holds in extended position
Advanced: On the TRX, move to a roll out in a standing position