When people think about core strength, A LOT of different things come to mind. That is why in part 1 (you can read HERE) I wanted to give a more definitive perspective upon what we mean about core strength. Building connection in the body and teaching the core HOW to work is much more important than how many sit-ups you can perform or how long you can plank.
Part of my goal in discussing this topic was to help people see that core training is more than “ab workouts” and how we should approach developing the core. When we do so correctly, we see great changes in strength, stability, and mobility. One of my other goals was to show progression as we often think of core strength workouts as largely ground based exercises. Listen, the ground is a great starting place as we minimize the influence of gravity, but to be really strong and stable, we have to be able to take what we build on the ground into more dynamic exercises.
How do we do that though? We can’t go from very slow and conscious movement to explosive and dynamic actions. That is where so many people feel like focusing on core strength fails them, but it is more of an issue of lacking proper progression.
In part 1 I spoke about how we actually begin training our core strength in movements like the plank with DVRT drills like tall kneeling press outs. That takes us to Bird Dog progressions leading into popular drills like Plank Lateral Drags. Where do we go from here?
We could argue that going to half kneeling is actually easier than plank lateral drags and that’s fine as nothing in fitness is a perfect linear progression. However, I am trying to convey a thought process about your core strength training than I am an absolute system. For many people, being in half kneeling is challenging enough in of itself. That is because we aren’t perfectly balanced and we have to resist lateral stability. As performance expert, Dr. Brandon Marcello points out, true stability training requires us to have multi-planar training. What is that?
Our body moves about 3 planes when we move in life, we actually resist a lot of lateral plane (side to side) action when we walk, run, or perform most everyday movements. However, outside of some token side planks and then jumping to extreme examples in loaded carries, we don’t train this quality very well. Being half kneeling immediately gives us the ability to train our core strength better and have tons of progressions. The point isn’t just being in the position, as you see in the picture above, we want to be active with our feet (as well as our hands in how we hold a weight) when we perform these movements.
Drills like DVRT Master, Cory Cripe shows in our Arc Press are so powerful in developing core strength that actually carries over to other activities. It isn’t just doing the movement though, hopefully you were listening to the cues that Cory used in both setting up and performing the movement. These are the same concepts that we would use in our other half kneeling progressions. The Arc Press though is such a great drill because it forces our core to resist lateral motion and extension!
Where Do We Go From Here?
We don’t do all this without also building our other patterns of movement. I think that is where people get stuck with many ideas and programs. Often when we are introduced to a concept, movement, method, and so forth, it is usually done in a very isolationistic way. That leaves to people throwing in a new drill or idea here and there without any real understanding of how everything we in one drill impacts us in everything else.
A good system of movement applies important principles to every movement.
The challenge of trying to offer a movement philosophy and solution is that there are so many different issues to address because we move in many different ways and need to apply good concepts to EVERYTHING we do. Here is an example…
When we are building a squat we use the Press Out to help build foundational connection/strength to our core so that our hips can move better and our body realizes how to perform the action. How we use the Ultimate Sandbag in “breaking it apart” and timing the press out with the squat is essential in getting that right core action. At the same time, when we build a foundation in hip hinging in a deadlift we use the SAME concepts in trying to “break the handles” apart which is the same action that pressing out and breaking the Ultimate Sandbag apart does in our squat. Same concept applied through different movement patterns.
It doesn’t matter what movement we are performing, we are using the same concepts of connecting our core strength to our movement that we began with on the ground. How we apply “pulling apart”, or “breaking apart” may change, but it is the same concept. So often, I see coaches not apply concepts through ought everything we do. That is so important in getting results and teaching our core strength to apply to actual functional movements.
You see how physical therapist, Jessica Bento uses our concepts of connecting our core strength from our hands and feet in more complex actions like lunging. She breaks down how so many times people actually cue the WRONG area of the body because we fail to realize how our body actually performs such movements.
As we move to more advanced drills like Robin Paget shows below, you see the need to create these connections to our core grow even more to help us be stable as we perform more sophisticated exercises. What do you see her do first? If you said “break the handles apart” you would be right! Not only does she do this, but she maintains this as she moves as well as using BOTH feet in the movement to allow her to resist rotation and perform a great hip hinge. Smarter exercises and having the right progressions allow us to achieve better results. It is attention to details that helps us not only become strong and more fit, but not have the pains/aches that so many people associate with fitness!
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