Breaking Down Core Training
Ah core training – the popular fitness fad of the very early 00’s. It’s lost its moment in the sun to Paleo diets and Crossfit but everyone admits to buying a stability ball at one time while knocking out some planks before going to bed. Fitness fads may come and go but the core itself really isn’t a gimmick that should be reserved to special training devices. The realization that having a strong core occurred prior to World War II, in which physical therapists realized that using a stability ball helped reduce back pain in special populations (1).
But before you dust off your stability ball and start repping out crunches realize the keyword here: “special populations.” Regardless of what the most popular fitness trend out there is, the core will always be the core. The core consists of different muscles that work together to help stabilize your spine when you perform certain movements like carrying groceries, wrestling a cookie away from your kid, and sprinting around a cone on the football field. One weak core muscle means that any movement you perform will suffer or worse, you could suffer an injury (2).
The point here is that you’re always using your core. Someone with extreme back pain falls into what we mentioned as a “special population.” Some people need specific core training that is meant to reduce low back pain. However you may not have back pain. In fact, you may be an athlete, and athletic performance is dependent on the core’s ability to stiffen the spine which then allows the hips to work their magic (3). The point is that those with low back pain need a completely different approach than someone training for athletic performance.
But you don’t need fancy gadgets and balloons to train on. A good core training program doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing tons and tons of crunches. Case in point: look at the following movements and you can see how they’re the best core exercises while being “total body” movements:
-One Arm KB Press
A lot of people sacrifice other forms of training, like strength and fat loss, for the sake of training their core. However, you can accomplish multiple goals with a smart training program that challenges your core for the entire training session.
1. Behm, D.G. Anderson, K.G. “The Role of Instability With Resistance Training.” (2006) Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20.3, 716-722
2. Clare, F. Kobesova, A. Kolar, P. “Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and Sports Rehabilitation.” (2013) International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 8(1), 62-73
3. McGill, Stuart. “Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention.” (2010) Strength and Conditioning Journal. 32(3), 33-46