Last week we answered the question “Why is core strength so important?” Which seemed to go down well, judging by the amount of shares that post had. Thank you all very much, I’m happy to help.
Speaking of which…this blog has made it to the Breaking Muscle final 20 in their top ten fitness blog competition. We got there because you all voted for me. Thankyou again, you are all awesome.
So anyway, back on point.
Core Strength and how to develop it…
What does the core do?
It is becoming ever more widely accepted that the core musculature is primarily for the prevention of movement. In other words it stabilises the spine.
This little tidbit of information ought to give us a clue as to how best to train it for strength.
We need to train the core in such a manner that there is little to no movement in the spine. But in what direction?
The spine can flex and extend in the Saggital plane It can flex left and right in the Frontal Plane It can twist and rotate It can move in a combination of planes and directions simultaneously.
So, we need to learn to effectively counter these movements. In other words build the ability to resist flexion/extension in the Saggital Plane, resist lateral flexion and prevent twisting.
Here’s a list of the go to exercises to build this kind of stability:
Superman / Bird Dog This is a great place to start and suitable for pretty much everybody. Start on all fours in a kneeling position, now really slowly slide one arm and the opposite leg out until they are fully extended. Think of reaching for the walls. Hold full extension for a minimum of three seconds, longer is better. In this extended position, ensure the spine is kept neutral (no sagging head or lumbar) and try to eliminate any and all wobbling and shaking.
A slight advancement is to pretend you have a pen sticking out of your heel and start drawing circles, or writing your name on the wall behind you. Just be sure that the pelvis is stationary and the leg moves from the hip joint. 1 to 3 sets of 5-12 reps is ok, depending on your needs.
This simplicity itself, rest on your elbows and toes with the body held in a perfect straight line.Now don’t move.
So we take it up a notch. Here’s a few ideas:
Three point planks – lift a leg or an arm without any change in alignment through the spine.
Two point planks – Like the superman above, lift one leg and the opposite arm. Don’t wobble!
Weighted Planks – balance a weight on the back, you may need a mate to help it balance.