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How To Make Truly Great Core Training

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Ah, the infamous term “core training”. Some roll their eyes, others get REALLY excited to speak about the topic. After all this time is there really anything to say about core training that hasn’t been said? Well, of course, if I am writing this post you know I have more than a few ideas.

Let’s once and for all really help people what core training means. Even to this day people think it means “abs” and it does, but it means SO much more in the process. In a great 2006 paper in Sports Medicine defined core stability as…

“Core stability’ is defined as the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis to allow optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the terminal segment in integrated athletic activities. Core muscle activity is best understood as the pre-programmed integration of local, single-joint muscles and multi-joint muscles to provide stability and produce motion. This results in proximal stability for distal mobility, a proximal to distal patterning of generation of force, and the creation of interactive moments that move and protect distal joints. Evaluation of the core should be dynamic, and include evaluation of the specific functions (trunk control over the planted leg) and directions of motions (three-planar activity). Rehabilitation should include the restoring of the core itself, but also include the core as the base for extremity function.”

core training

Trey Belcher of the Danville, VA fire department teaches his fellow firefighters about real core training principles and drills. 

WHEW, there is A LOT said there, but what do we really need to know? First we have to learn how to control our trunk and pelvis. Considering most people have poor control over both that is why we over start with drills like dead bugs and bird dogs like you see below. These core training exercises start us in more stable environments so we can learn how to control our trunk and pelvis.

Then we know they have to be “multi-planar” which means we have to learn to RESIST forces that try to pull us laterally and in rotation. We already introduced some of those that resist rotation with the bird dog, but we need more lateral drills like side planks you see below. If you can’t do a side plank or want to progress the side plank you can use a half kneeling position. This puts us in a more functional position and gets our core training working at higher levels as we show below.

You see above how physical therapist, Jessica Bento, progressed from the side plank to half kneeling to a split squat. A half kneeling can be used for those that find the side plank very uncomfortable so knowing WHY you are using different strategies really helps.

core training

Then we want to learn to have this control in more dynamic actions. We don’t want our core training to live on the ground, we ned our core to work with our arms and legs and moving with direction.

You see how Cory Cripe of Fitness Lying Down integrates all the aspects of core training that we want to achieve, but in a purposeful way. Working from more stable positions to much higher levels of core training. That is so important because our core training needs to progress as our movement capabilities and fitness do as well. What we do in life and in sport is generally far more complex than what people do in the gym. Of course that means our core has to step up to work in more sophisticated ways too. However, that doesn’t mean doing crazy stuff, but very purposefully building foundations and going up from there.

Check out more how we use specific tools to provide important feedback to our body on HOW to use our core and how things that look simple done with great intent can be VERY challenging! Core training is a real methodology, however, to access it and to gain all its benefits we have to know what it is and how we create a system of teaching people how to do it well!

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