How To Train The Core

Before I knew anything about strength and conditioning I'd finish every session with 20-30 minutes of a core circuit. This was back when I was 13-14 and thought the greater the burn, the greater the chance of a 6 pack showing up.

I'd do hundred of sit ups, bicycle kicks, ankle taps, Russian twists and anything else I could find on YouTube. I also had low back pain from a pretty young age - I didn't connect the dots.

Now that I'm a little more experienced, I understand the reason why my back hurt. The constant stress on the spine from repeated flexion or side bending wears away at the disks.

Since then, I've fixed my training and stick mostly to what we call anti-movements. Anti-movements prevent movement through the core as oppose to producing it.

"Core training is really about motion prevention, not motion creation." - Mike Boyle

Think of a sit up - your abs contract and pull your spine into a flexed or forward bending position. This is creating motion.

Contrast that with a plank - your midline is still contracting, but it's working to prevent the hips from dropping to the ground.

We can break anti-movements up into 4 categories

1. Anti-extension - prevents spine from bending backwards.

2. Anti-flexion - prevents spine from bending forwards.

3. Anti-lateral flexion - prevents spine from bending to the side.

4. Anti-rotation - prevents spine from rotating

The cores main role is to transfer energy from the lower body through the upper body and to keep the spine safe and stabile while the limbs are moving.

Notice in all these videos my midline is not moving. It’s bracing while everything moves around it.

Most core development can be achieved through heavy lifting i.e. squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pull-ups... But adding in some extra work is also useful.

We need to move away from thinking of the core as your 6 pack. Anyone can have a 6-pack if they watch what they eat in the kitchen.

This isn't to say there’s no place for things like sit ups, hanging knee raises and so on - but most time should be spent training anti-movements.



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