Beginner's Guide to Core Training - Part 2
Exercise • • 1 minute to read • By Pankaj Narsian, INFS Faculty
Author- Pankaj N, CSCS & INFS Faculty
How to improve the stability function of the core?
Breathing: To know more about breathing to improve stability, read this article.
Bracing: Bracing plays a critical role in training, mainly to provide spinal stability. Additionally, it's an effective way of training the local core musculature, strongly advocated when teaching functional movements, especially the squat, deadlift and overhead exercises. For example, strict press, push press and push jerk place high demand for a stable spine under heavy loads. An efficient breathing technique often accompanies bracing. Taking a deep breath fills the belly with air; clenching the abdomen creates a rigid midsection.
Coaching tip: Ask the athlete to take a deep belly breath and tighten the abdominal musculature as if someone is about to punch. Such a movement (bracing) causes the coactivation of several core muscles.
How to train the core for maximum strength and stability?
Objectivity is essential when planning core training for an individual.
For example, the most basic movement in core training involves trunk flexion. And to understand trunk flexion, let's revisit the famous Rocky 4 movie where Sylvester Stallone is hanging upside down on a tree log. Rocky trains his core with crunches while preparing for his fight against Captain Ivan Drago.
Bilateral and unilateral resistance training
Furthermore, research also indicates that bilateral and unilateral resistance training exercises with barbells and dumbbells assist in developing core strength and stability and maximizing overall strength. For this reason, coaches recommend that individuals perform traditional resistance training exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and the Olympic lifts with core-specific training drills.
Fitness professionals often use the term core in conjunction with the term functional. They use the word when concerning exercises that are considered specific to the performance of a task or that possess greater transferability to the implementation of life or sports skills. However, the functionality of a movement is a topic of subjective judgment. But activities wherein the involvement of core muscles is in conjunction with actions of the hands and legs are considered more functional, thereby helping develop the core strength and stability.
So finally, the literature concluded that core training could be done in multiple ways using different training mechanisms. For example, the previous article mentions core muscles dividing into local and global muscles. However, since the core comprises highly diverse muscle groups, individuals need a better and more holistic approach to ensure overall development.
Traditionally core training has always been dynamic. Even today, individuals rarely initiate anything apart from the usual side bends with dumbbells, crunches on the ab mat, back extension on machine and truck rotation using a PVC pipe. However, an efficient core training program requires targeting the different functions of the spine, such as flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation through a more extensive or full range of motion. Additionally, targeting the movements using dynamic (concentric and eccentric) isometric muscle actions strengthens the core significantly.
To know more about training core, continue reading the beginner's guide to core training.
Here's a quick question for all the fitness enthusiasts reading this guide.
Which among the local core muscles is also known as the weight-lifting muscle?
Answer: Diaphragm, aka the weight-lifting muscle. When a person takes and holds a deep breath, the diaphragm assists the anterior abdominal wall muscles to raise the intra-abdominal pressure. This maneuver is also called the Valsalva maneuver and is used to augment heart murmurs.
- Reed, C.A., Ford, K.R., Myer, G.D. and Hewett, T.E., 2012. The effects of isolated and integrated ‘core stability’ training on athletic performance measures. Sports medicine, 42(8), pp.697-706.
- Cissik, J.M., 2011. The role of core training in athletic performance, injury prevention, and injury treatment. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(1), pp.10-15.
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