Considerations when strengthening your ‘core’
First of all lets try and define what the core is through its function. The function of the core is to transfer force between the lower body to the upper body, whilst prevent the spine from excessive movements during activities.
The core is very different compared to other muscle groups which operate in pairs as the muscles co-contract together to create tension. For instance, when the bicep contracts the tricep relaxes (reciprocal inhibition) this is not the case with the core when carrying out it’s function.
The main core muscles are the external and internal obliques, the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis. These can be assisted during function by the back extensors, quadratus lumborum, psoas major, gluteus maximus and latissimus dorsi.
When training the core we can look at its function for clues and like any training program you need to think about what your goals are before you start. If you are looking for training which will help to translate into sport performance / daily activities this will look different to if you are training for hypertrophy to get a six pack. For training which will help to translate into the former, progressing exercises which prevent movement is the way to go. Therefore, to have a balanced core training program you need to do these range of exercises;
- Anti-Flexion – Zercher Carries, Medicine Ball Holds
- Anti-Extension – Roll-outs, Planks
- Anti-Side Flexion – Suitcase Carries, Side Planks
- Anti-Rotation exercises – Pallof Press, Renegade Rows
I hope that these exercises give you some ideas of how you can strengthen your core to prevent injuries.
Ben Hampson BSc GSR