June 24, 2017

What is “core” training?

In a recent feedback survey for our Boot Campers the number one thing that people wanted to do more of was “core work”. It was my fault as I listed it as one of the options without really ever explaining what “core” was. DH before and after website

So in the wider world Core gets used to describe the abdominal area , people think of sit ups , six packs and flat stomachs.

This is where things get confusing…… to start with you could do sit ups all day long every day but unless you have a low enough body fat % you wont see the toned abdominals below. In fact we NEVER do sit ups in Boot Camp. Why? With me being a sports therapist as well as a PT I have studied Stuart McGills work and he has proven to me beyond reasonable doubt that Sit ups , crunches…. whatever you want to call them put you at an extremely high risk of injury. The pressure that goes through the disc when doing them can often exceed 2000 psi , that coupled with the fact that people seem obsessed with doing 100s at a time means that you are creating repeated stress in your lower back in a classic injury movement.

Does everyone that includes sit ups get injured? No, of course not but I work on a risk and reward basis and there is no benefit to your average person training for health doing sit ups yet their is a significant increase in risk. Sure if I was training a thai boxer or athlete that required abdominal flexion for their sport we would probably chuck some in but not for your average recreational exerciser.

So what is core training and what do I program in Boot Camp?

1. Stability

As it would suggest you hold a static position for a challenging amount of time, Plank, Hip Bridges and Bird Dog are the ones that immediately spring to mind.

2. Dynamic Stability

In these exercises you will hold a stable position whilst moving your arms or legs . Examples are mountain climbers, renegade row, leg walk outs, elbow to knees, spidermans, dead bugs.

3. Strength

It always annoys me if I train in a big gym and I hear a PT tell a client that they are about to do core stability work and then bust out the ab cradle for some sit ups. (never EVER use an ab cradle) Sit ups are core strength not stability.  Strength exercise would be things like the McGill curl up, Turkish get ups.

Of course I have only looked here at what would be considered core specific exercises, look at a squat your core muscles work hard to maintain a straight posture, add a weight to that same squat and the core muscles work double time. Y Lunges would be the same and of course the clean and press.

To summarise, training your core muscles is important, not for a flat stomach but for injury prevention and because its an important link in the chain of how your body works.

BUT

If its a flat stomach you desire then a focus on good nutrition and big muscle group exercises for maximum calorie expenditure is much more important.

Hope this helps.

Mark

P.S. Check out Daves 8 week PT before and after pictures and have a guess how much and what core work we did in that 8 weeks of 2 x 45 minute sessions per week!

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