Find out why Robin Paget shows where core training should and could go!
Asking anyone if core training is important will guarantee you an automatic “yes!” Of course the bigger questions are “what is good core training” and “ what are we trying to teach the body?” The second question may seem easy at first as the answers I commonly receive are….
-You need strong abs
Look, I probably wouldn’t have answered much differently if life didn’t force me to learn more. Having a very aggressive spinal disease, I have two choices. The first is to live on medications (which I have been prescribed no shortage of) or try to take control of my own health the best I can by learning what I can teach my body about moving as well as I can.
When your spine looks like this everything is an uphill battle!
Being from a family that never let anyone feel sorry for themselves, I decided to try to take my own health into my hands. That meant educating myself as much as possible about how the body works and in the late 90’s there was A LOT of talk about core training.
This is when functional training was really getting off the ground. The modern form of bodybuilding had firmly taken control of every aspect of training from performance training to even many aspects of therapy. However, the group of professionals that saw we were going against how our bodies wanted to work wanted to create a new way of training.
Being aware of how our body functions isn’t just for fun informational purposes. It SHOULD guide how we train and what we focus upon. My journey and learning about core training sent me down a path of both success and failures. Whenever I learned a new concept, method, and/or technique, I would give it my full effort for several months.
This was key for me in finding what would work and who it would work for or not. Nowadays people collect so much information I don’t think they ever really develop their own filter to answer the really important questions of training. That time I spent led me down to not what just worked, but what didn’t. Like what?
I got into the industry when the research by Australian scientists was first exposing the idea of the transverse abdominis (TVA). The research that swept the functional training side of things was that people with low back issues had a delayed activation of their TVA during walking (gait). Many of us took that information as to mean if we strengthen the TVA then we can help people’s low backs.
We REALLY thought we could isolate the TVA, what were we thinking?!
Such a thought process created a whole industry debate on how to best activate the TVA and train it to be strong. Years later I can laugh at myself because I tried ALL the methods that were being proposed at the time. I was interested in this information both for myself and many of my clients that were dealing with low back issues. What I found out was that no one was getting better from ANY of the techniques.
At first, I chalked it up to me not doing the drills well because I heard all these supposed stories about people completely changing their low back health by doing “this or that”. However, years later I would learn that we, as an industry, totally misunderstood the original research.
The scientists even said that our industry kinda missed the boat. The point of their research wasn’t that the TVA had to be stronger, but rather it had to “turn on” at the right time. You see, where most of fitness and performance training goes wrong is that we think everything is a strength issue, I know I did. If we take this approach we attack everything with the idea that if we make a muscle stronger our body works better. This research though taught me and should teach all of us that this is the wrong lease to look through.
What the study REALLY told us that injury can alter our motor control. What’s that? If you think about everything in our body is designed to work at specific times and sequences to make complex actions appear seamless, that’s pretty much motor control (okay the VERY simplified explanation but it works).
Dr. Marcello even points to how our misunderstanding of trying to train muscles impacts our ability to develop true stability based programs.
Yes, no one goes to the gym to work on their motor control, but this concept is at the very heart of functional training. Most studies point to injuries and performance being linked not to the strength of a particular muscle or group of muscles, but rather, when and how these muscles work together to create a movement.
So, core training is about just that! How do we use the 35 muscles of the core to work at the right time and sequence so that we actually build strength that makes a difference. That is why in DVRT the movement within an exercise is important, but our intent and purpose behind it is so much more so. Our core training drills are designed to use simple cues and progressions to develop the motor control that makes us move and perform better quickly.
Physical therapist, Dan Swinscoe shows (scroll through) why machines are NOT optimal when it comes to training your core, but neither is lying on the ground.
One of the best ways to build the core is through lift/chop patterns. These are diagonal patterns that reflect that fact that our body works in opposites (the left hip and leg work with the right arm and upper body). This is why we swing our opposite arm/leg when we walk and run. While we can train this from very foundational levels, DVRT Master Cory Cripe shows how we take it to more dynamic levels but you see these concepts in the hip bridge lift/chop and MAX lunge that Dan Swinscoe also shows below. Making our core training way more dynamic is key!
There are important elements of core training to learn from on the ground and if we are compensating on the ground, we can only imagine how much worse our movement is in standing and more functional positions. However, there has to be a plan and system to go from the ground to standing as Dan shows again in the series below.
What I love best about what Dan is showing is not just ways to really challenge your core, but these DVRT drills are all connected in different forms and are progressions leading us to more sophisticated forms of strength training. I so often get questions from coaches and fitness enthusiasts about which is “the best” exercise. The truth is that what is right for you may not be right for another. However, having a system gives us direction to appreciate how we build better movement and more thoughtful progressions to accomplish our training goals!
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