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Training Core

If there’s one area that has hit front and center of the training world and held shelf space it’s the core. So let’s dive into this extremely complex category of training core. 

A great place to start here is: What is core? 

In simple terms, it is all the muscular tissue that connects your upper body to your lower body. Diving a little deeper into your core is all the skeletal, ligamentous and muscular parts from the diaphragm to the pelvis. The bone architecture of the spine, ribs and diaphragm, the connecting ligaments, and the thoracolumbar fascia is considered to be the passive components of the core. Moving deeper, intra-abdominal pressure increases the general strength of the trunk.

Essentially, without your core, gravity would fold you in half and pin you to the surface of the earth, then you would slowly suffocate as your diaphragm collapsed and you stopped breathing. Intense, right?

This is why it has made its way to the forefront of the kinesiology world and is a massive influencer in the health of our communities.  In saying that, if you are a lover of kinesthesiology and interested in really unpacking the core I recommend Sally Belanger from Link Advanced Movement Mechanics in Toronto. Sally is what I would call a movement scientist, she works with numerous NHL players and I have had the pleasure of working with her during the off-season with one of the NHL athletes I work with. Sally has also done a workshop for my team and is a huge part of the Toronto Maple Leaf’s player rehabilitation team. Fun fact: Sally is a Phys Ed grad! 

I’m all about practical group application so from here on we are going to learn the basics, what are the primary muscles and how to train them. 

We will start with the 2 categories of muscles that make up your core, stabilizers and minor, and major muscles then we will provide examples of each exercise and what are the primary muscles involved in each. 

Stabilizers; These include your transverse abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, abs and rectus abdominis. When training your stabilizers there are 2 factors to consider. You either put yourself on something that is unstable, like a swiss ball or Bosu ball, or you make yourself unstable, by performing a plank with 1 arm or doing a pall of press on one leg. 

Some of the biggest bang-for-your-buck drills for training core stabilizers are:

Stability Ball Low Plank

What I love about this drill is you can easily change the intensity by moving your legs closer together and narrowing your mass. For added fun, you can have another person tap on the ball from various angles to add more stabilization demand. 


High Plank X's

The high planks X’s are great in a group context because you can make a game of it by calling out the switch randomly. The students who stay up the longest without losing their balance on the switch win. By adding the random switch we not only train the core stabilizers but we create a very dynamic experience that has tons of transferable development to real-life or sport.


TRX Single Leg Low Plank

This is very challenging as we have added not only a piece of equipment to make us unstable we have also limited the ability to control rotation by taking away a limb. Coaching tip here, when students try this drill watch for them to have a harder time resisting rotation on the leg they would kick a ball with (homework for you, why would that be?)

Minor and major: The muscles that make up this group are your lats, traps, glutes and superficial abdominals. These make the greatest contribution to your trunk and are the driving forces behind counteracting external forces acting on the body. 

Cable High to Low Chop

Any of the chop drills are great, specifically the standing cable or band chop. This is a great movement to ensure the functional development of the core. I find students generally try to go heavier with this and the focus becomes an arm and shoulder thing. Make sure students stay light enough that they can actually visually see their obliques flex and think about turning their torso with their trunk. Also, the eccentric phase of this movement is a huge contributor to students developing strength and awareness of their core. 

Low Plank

You guessed it, the classic low plank. What I love about this is its versatility of it in groups and the isometric training aspect. Isometrics are great because the strength development curve is extremely sharp. The plank hits your whole core and since we sit a lot, having great isometric core capacity is a transferable skill to today’s modern life. 


Laying Cross Body Sit Up

Most likely not the drill you would expect, I love it though and here’s why. The hamstring for the majority of the population is very short weakened. This movement allows us to work on the range of motion of the hamstring and hip while training the core. It is simple to coach as well in a group because you can easily spot students whose knees bend or feet lift from the floor when they are performing reps so you can quickly stay on top of them to keep good form.  

In summary, one of the great things about core training is that everyone can benefit from it. We all need an upright posture for everyday activities that involve twisting, bending and crouching which are all a part of our lives today and forever.

Have fun trying out these core drills and when you login into your account you can access our exercise database where we have hundreds of core drills you can play with for yourself and your students. 



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