Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration Certification, Knees Over Toes Course, DVRT Rx Shoulder, Knees, Pelvic Control, & Gait Courses)
We talk A LOT about the core here, for good reason. It is a REALLY important concept to understand. Unfortunately, we still have A LOT of misconceptions about core training. So, I wanted to do a rapid fire of 10 common mistakes people make with their core training that can give you a HUGE edge if you can start using BETTER core training!
1. Doing Core Work on Your Back Is Limiting
Most of us learn to do abdominal work (which is NOT necessarily the same as core training) by doing a lot of work on our back. Very basic core concepts can be learned doing specific exercises on our back, but it is only a foundational starting point. Being on our back puts us in a VERY stable position to learn how to stabilize our pelvis, how to have control over our trunk as our extremities move, etc. Where people go wrong is they think that a lot of core training should be kept on their backs and just add load or tons of reps!
Our Ultimate Sandbag dead bug progressions are great and important, but the point isn’t to find how many different ways we can perform the exercise.
2. Your Core Isn’t Just Your Abs
Besides giving you a LONG, boring lesson on anatomy, the simple version is that your core is far beyond just your abs. It is fascia, lats, glutes, pelvic muscles, and deep trunk muscles. That means you have to know HOW the body moves to create smarter exercises for your core. Yes, I know, when you do “this or that” exercise you feel your abs burning. That’s fine, but just because you feel a burn doesn’t mean you are getting better. The difference between functional training and what we are doing with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is to give people exercises that are education for the body.
Does this mean your body looks better? Of course, imagine how your body responds when it isn’t going against how it is designed to function and move! In fact, old time bodybuilding had a much higher emphasis on such concepts when it was called “Physical Culture”.
When you understand how the body works you can create smarter and BETTER workouts!!!
3. Your Core Doesn’t Start with Your Trunk
This is one of the most confusing, yet, maybe THE most important concept I wish we could convey to people. Your core doesn’t start with what you do with your trunk, but how you engage the ground! These are known as ground reaction forces, to keep things simple, you can think of them as “when a body is not free-falling but in contact with the ground, this force is reflected back onto the body as a reaction, which is really another word for weight.”
This should tell us that everything really comes from the ground up! So, how we interact with the ground plays a HUGE role in the impact of our core and how it is used in motion. That also means whatever part of our body that is in contact with the ground needs to be deliberately engaged.
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5. REALLY, Your Core Isn’t Just Your Abs
So, I just said earlier that there are SO many muscles that make up our body’s “core” it is silly to oversimplify it. Especially when it doesn’t make you better! With that said, there is a MAJOR chain that can change how you think about your core training and how you perform your core exercises. That is the infamous “lat/trunk/glute” connection. This has been referred to as the Posterior Oblique System, but if you don’t remember that don’t worry, just sing yourself, “lat/trunk/glute”.
Such a connection is so important because it is what helps our body be stable as we move in real life and sport. Yet, this rather simple chain gets COMPLETELY ignored when it even comes to functional training based workouts. Weird right? When you do engage this chain it is amazing how stronger, more efficient, and stable you feel!
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6. Your Body Works in Opposites!
Our body is meant to work in opposites. By that, I mean your arm works with your opposite leg. Don’t believe me? Just watch how people walk and run. A big part of the communication of the limbs is having a core that can create enough stability so that these motions can be effectively performed. Kinda the old “only as strong as your weakest link” idea.
Now, people know about this, but rarely make it a priority in their core training. How can you do so? Well, check out some of these DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Restoration concepts that set a strong foundation for more complex drills.
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7. Planks Aren’t Very Functional!
Okay put the pitchforks away, this isn’t MY assertion but that of researchers. What can you NOT do when you plank on the ground? You got it, MOVE! That doesn’t mean that planks aren’t beneficial, they are! However, their benefit comes largely from learning how to engage the ground and brace the torso, not trying to set world record boring attempts of hours of planking.
That means once we understand this concept we want to apply it to more complex motions. So, really EVERY exercise we perform should have a plank aspect to it and the success of the exercise is our ability to properly use that plank as we move! Sounds easy, the reality is when you change the conditions of a lot of movements people lose this plank and become weak!
8. Pulse Your Core Training
World renown spine specialist, Dr. Stuart McGill, has long talked about that real world core training has to progress to a “pulse”. Very simply (goes with point 7) you don’t want all out tension when you move. The great and successful athletes can quickly “turn on and off” their core faster than others. This makes them more powerful and explosive. What does that look like? Glad you asked!
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