21st Century Core Training Part 2: 5 Key Core Movements you should be doing!

Here’s the second part of Danny Hagues’ series on core training. This is the HOW, enjoy it!

In part 1 of this post I explained the main function of the core and how to best train this area for optimal health and performance. These methods are based on current research in the field from spine biomechanics experts such as Dr Stu McGill, as well as practical experience and following the methods of leaders in the Strength and Conditioning field.

So with following the principle of the cores role as a stabilizer and the prevention of movement at the lumbar spine, here are 5 movements that require high levels of core stability and rigidity of the torso to ensure efficient movement and force transfer.  These movements are multi-planar, integrated anti-movement patterns that will increase your body’s strength and power potential.

1.     Band Anti Rotation with Lateral Shuffle

This is an integrated anti-rotation exercise, with lateral movement of the lower body. The exercise is great for core strength and torso rigidity as well as hip stability. It also teaches the athlete to diaphragmatically breathe to ensure core stiffness throughout the movement.

  • Grab a super band with an overhand grip. Maintain upright posture.
  • Adopt an athletic stance, with chest out shoulder blades back and down.
  • While maintaining a rigid co contraction of the surrounding core musculature, move laterally through the hips, ensuring good posture throughout.
  • The key here is to avoid rotating of the core, and level hips.
  • 3 sets of 4 steps 3 times each side will be enough to fry the core and hips.

 

2.     TRX Anti-Rotation/Lateral Flexion Press

This exercise requires high levels of hip and core stability to resist the rotation and lateral bending of the torso, due to the angle of the body and positioning of the arms. The exercise is great for core strength and shoulder flexibility.

  • Hold a TRX or any suspension trainer and set up so your body is leaning away from the fixed point. Set your feet in a staggered stance with front foot forward and back foot directly behind front foot, this will challenge your balance/stability.
  • Under control slowly press out from sternum height and flex both arms until your biceps finish by your ears.  Maintain torso rigidity and breathing control.
  • Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position that is one repetition.
  • You will feel this in your hips as well.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions each side.


3.     Dumbbell Rack Walks

This exercise is an integrated anti movement exercise. The movement is initiated with the lower body while the core has to co-contract to ensure torso rigidity in all planes of motion. With the position of the arms resting on the rib cage the athlete is forced to diaphragmatically breathe to maintain core stiffness while breathing under duress, which is very true to certain sporting situations. This is a great all round exercise especially for rugby players, and combat athletes. It also targets upper body endurance while improving work capacity.

  • Holding two dumbbell out in front of the body with upper arms resting on rib cage, walk for a set distance maintaining upright posture throughout.
  • Keep torso braced and focus on breathing and control.
  • Minimize any hip hiking or lateral sway.
  • Walking distance can be anything from 30-50m + and for 2-3 sets depending on application.

4.     Single Arm Dumbbell Farmer Walks

This is an integrated anti lateral flexion exercise.  The movement is initiated through locomotion of the lower body while resisting motion of the torso. The athlete must remain braced throughout to ensure no movement occurs at the torso, while maintaining stable hips.  This exercise is great for developing the strength of the quadratus lumborum, a muscle which ensures lumbar spine and hip stability, which is key for athletes who have to change direction rapidly.  This exercise also stresses grip and upper back strength.

  • Hold a dumbbell at the side of the body with chest out and shoulders back and down.
  • Maintain upright posture and brace the core musculature to ensure spinal stability.
  • Make sure to keep hips level avoiding any hiking or lateral sway.
  • Walking distance can be anything from 30-50m + and for 2-3 sets depending on application.


5.     Barbell Rotations without/with pivot

This is a great ground based integrated core movement that replicates how the muscles work in all real world movements, from sprinting, kicking throwing and striking. This exercise works the serape muscles on the anterior and posterior sides of the body as discussed in part 1.  If performing the anti-rotary version no movement must occur at the torso or hips and the athlete must brace while moving the arms.  If performing the more dynamic version with pivot, the athlete must remain braced to ensure torso rigidity while movement occurs at the hip and upper back. This is great for working on hip and thoracic spine mobility simultaneously while is optimal for efficient movement.

  • Using a landmine unit or barbell wedged into the corner of the room, hold the barbell with both hands above your hand, don’t stand to close though.
  • Adopt an athletic stance. Keep torso braced, chest out shoulders back while the arms draw an arc from hip to hip on either side of the body. Minimise movement of the torso and hips if performing the anti-rotation version.
  • Movement should be slow and controlled eccentric with a controlled faster concentric motion.
  • If performing the dynamic version, make sure rotation comes from the hips, and upper back while the torso remains rigid, to ensure power transfer.
  • 2-3 sets of 6-10 repetitions each side should work well.

 

The movements above are no exhaustive list by any means, and there are many regressions, progressions of the above movements.  I have hopefully helped you take the concept of the core as a resister of motion, to ensure force is transferred through the body efficiently, thus improving your strength and power potential on the field.  Give these movements a try, and let me know how you get on.

Danny Hague ASCC, MMA-CSCC

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