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Core Strength Beyond the Plank

If you don’t think core strength training is really important then you are probably one of the VERY few that has never had low back problems or continues to make progress in their training without any aches and pains. You guys do exist, you may seem like unicorns, but you are out there.

For you guys, you are the lucky ones! Most people I have met over the years have either been deterred from training because they have pain, or their progress has been stalled because of aches and pains. Most of the time either way, it sucks!

I would venture to say that most of you do believe core strength training is important and that means you have been paying attention! The term “core” isn’t a fancy name for abs, but called such because of how reliant most of our movement is based on the foundation that our core can offer.

That means when it comes to creating core strength we go to planks right?! The reality is the plank is good, but a few things make it not as powerful as many would believe.

ultimate sandbag fitness

DVRT Masters, Steve Di Tomaso and Kari Negraiff of Envision Fitness just wrote a great article for a Canadian fitness association journal with these ideas. 

You don’t create enough tension: Tension is stability and especially in early phases of training creating a lot of tension teaches someone how to stabilize their entire body. Over time people should learn to create “optimal” amounts of tension. Yet, when people are most doing planks they tend to just “hang out” on their shoulders and hips and this means getting very little out of the movement.


You aren’t deliberate about using the whole body: Probably my biggest pet peeve now as a coach of over 20 years is coaches not explaining to people the REAL point of an exercise. For example, a plank and a crunch are both “core exercises”, but they function VERY differently in training core strength.

One of the best ways to learn to create tension for core strength is our Ultimate Sandbag Press Outs


What we really want from a lot of our core strength training is the idea of bracing. Sorta what naturally happens when someone taps you on the stomach (don’t like, you brace when they do that!). Of course it isn’t even JUST the bracing either but how we do so!

That is driving our feet into the ground, grabbing the ground with our hands, and creating tension in the glutes and lats. ALL of a sudden this becomes a VERY different exercise and the results change dramatically. So, just hanging out in the plank is VERY different than creating specific forces into the ground!

core strength

You don’t move your plank: This might seem confusing because why would you want to move your plank? Isn’t the whole point of this core strength drill NOT to move? We don’t want our trunk to move, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the body has to stay static.

In fact, our overall goal of core strength training is the fact we want to maintain that plank in our trunk while our extremities start to move. Below are some great progressions to such drills.

These are foundations of establishing the RIGHT type of core strength that allows you to get rid of aches and pains as well as increase your performance. Allowing the exercise to teach the body while keeping in mind the RIGHT intent is what gives these core strength exercises such incredible power.

Learn more about how we use DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training to train the body’s natural movement with our DVRT workouts HERE