The longer I work with people, the more I have gone through myself, the greater the respect and priority I have for core training. While many people may think that means doing way more planks of all different sorts, the truth is that I do very little plank work. Part of the reason is that people become cynical about core training is they believe it means just doing ab exercises. Sure, your abs are part of the equation, but the core is really over 35 muscles in the body.
If someone asked me what the core really was, it would be to connect the lower body to the upper body. It makes sense that our very important and fragile spine would be at the center of everything our body does in life and sport. Imagine having a foundation that is faulty and trying to build a strong and tall building upon it? Wouldn’t work so well right?
That is basically why the core is so important and even as renowned expert, Dr. Stuart McGill states, “On the performance side, “Core Stiffness” is mandatory. It is absolutely essential to carry heavy loads, run fast and change direction quickly. It determines the rate of speed for movement of the arms and legs. There are those people who state they do not need dedicated core training because they lift and squat. Yet when I assess their strength and speed abilities, often I find they are unable to translate their strength to on-field performance. Pointing out their weak links brings them to the realization: Training the core is non-negotiable.”
I think people, more and more, are accepting that core training is essential, so the bigger question becomes HOW do we train our core and what are we really trying to achieve? Here are a few steps to making your core training better and actually focus on the whole rather than individual parts!
Tension for Stability
We keep writing that what we do with the Ultimate Sandbag is so misunderstood because many just see it as another form of weight. However, one of the many things that make the Ultimate Sandbag such a powerful training tool is what we do when we are holding the weight.
Tension of both the hands and feet is actually how we engage our core. It isn’t from sucking in or doing anything that we would typically think of with our abs. Since force enters our body through our feet and hands, it makes sense that is where we start and that is why tension in these areas are so important.
One of the easy ways to describe this tension is when we PULL the handles of the Ultimate Sandbag apart. Unlike using a band or anything like that, when we do so with the Ultimate Sandbag we get vertical and horizontal forces which activates more core. Additionally, we have a grip factor and grip will help us engage our core chain from the upper body down.
Physical therapist, Dan Swinscoe, demonstrates how we apply these concepts of tension with some classic core training exercises to make them better. He adds one more twist that brings us to the next point of true core!
Diagonal & Cross Patterning
We almost never think of it in the gym, but in life our body is designed more locomotion. Being able to walk and run on two legs is a very unique attribute that we have and almost never spend time appreciating how complex it really is!
While most don’t think about locomotion when we develop training programs, doing so gives us ways to train the body smarter. One of the most important concepts we can take from thinking about how we move in life is that our body works in opposites. Our legs and arms work with their opposite counterparts when we swing our arms and legs.
It is this reason that famous physical therapy systems like PNF have long used diagonal patterns to restore function and build real world strength. While most would look at these patterns as “odd” in the gym not realizing what muscle we are working, they are the MOST effective ways to build true core strength. As legendary physical therapist, Gary Gray says, “the core is everything from the toes to the nose!”
Strength Coaches Mike Yudin & David Padilla, show you how we build these patterns in DVRT. When we combine our tension techniques with these core training patterns we have some very special ways of impacting how we move, live, and perform!
Probably the MOST misunderstood concept of core training is the fact that people think the more unbalanced and unstable they are when they train, the better their core workout. However, as Dr. Brandon Marcello explains, this can be the OPPOSITE of what we should be doing!
One of the BIG reasons that the science has shown that unstable environments and even very unstable tools don’t enhance strength is because they aren’t progressive in their nature. Just like I wouldn’t go from squatting 50 pounds to 500 pounds, we need to treat stability the same way. If we don’t, our body rebels and actually shuts down! How can we accomplish such a goal? DVRT Master, Brian Flynn, shows how we do so with the deadlift with changing body position, holding position, and then both!
Doing so allows us to train in a progressive manner how to produce and resist force at the same time. The diagonal design of most of the largest core muscles means that these muscles are designed to function in JUST this way!
Marlon Cruz shows that once we establish such concepts we can add more dimensions. This means that we have endless options to build upon quality movement, but more importantly, that our core training becomes more real world based!
I want DVRT not to be about Ultimate Sandbags, but understanding how our body moves and performs in life. In doing so, we can use the tools we show to help teach the body HOW to do these important actions. So many people think that core training is about burning muscles and six packs. In reality, what our core is designed to do is so much greater!
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