Work that Core!

Posted: July 8, 2011 in GENERAL, WORKOUTS & CHALLENGES

Today I thought I would do two things for my readers.  I’m going to give you an at home core routine that you can use to supplement your existing workout.   But, before I give you this gem, I want to first talk a bit about the core.  Nothing irritates me more than people who think that the core consists of just your abdominal muscles. Everyone thinks that because everyone and their mother is trying to promote and sell core workouts as the next big thing without REALLY ever explaining what the heck it is.  I don’t want to bore you with lots of science but I do want to try to clear up a misconception here.  The core includes your abdominal muscles but is NOT limited to your abdominal muscles.  The term core refers to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and there are actually 29 muscles attached to the complex that act to stabilize the connection between the hip, pelvis and back.  So, while you see people in the gym doing five thousand crunches and sit ups thinking they are going to get a strong core, what they are really working there are just the rectus abdominis and possibly the obliques.  Great for a six pack BUT not great for protecting your back.  The problem is those exercises don’t do much in terms of spinal stabilization.  Indeed, crunches and sit ups put a tremendous amount of pressure on the spine and that’s why physical therapists, chiropractors and the like often recommend NOT doing them.  So, I have my clients work on stabilization exercises first which focus on the transverse abdominis, deep spinal muscles and the glutes. The transverse abdominis is the deepest of all the abdominal muscles and it the first muscle to fire for all human movement. It attaches directly to your spine and is responsible for protecting your back.  Kind of important, right?  Well, I like to think so.  That’s why I train my clients to build these muscles before I will even discuss doing flexion exercises, like crunches and sit ups.  Side note: At one fitness seminar I attended, the speaker said that crunches put 30% more strain on your spine than OSHA safety standards allow for workers! Hmmmm… if that’s true, it’s certainly a POWERFUL statement and something to think about.  All that said, here is a core stabilization routine for you.  It’s safe, effective and I’ve seen GREAT results for both myself and my clients with it.

Start with a 5 minute warm-up to get the blood flowing.

Set one: Go through entire set one time

3 Plank (15 second increments working up to 1 minute)

3 Side Plank on each side (15 second increments working up to 1 minute)

Set two: Go through entire set twice

15 prone cobra

15 bird dogs

Set three:  Go through entire set three times

15 Dirty Dog on each side & One 15 second hold at the top after last rep on each side

15 Donkey Kicks on each side & One 15 second hold at the top after last rep on each side

15 Glute Bridges & One 15 second hold at the top after last rep

Most of these exercises are demonstrated online if you are not familiar with them and I’m always available for questions.  Check out exercise library.  Most of the exercises are on there.  I hope you’ve learned something today.  Now, get moving!

  1. Rachel says:

    I always hear mixed reviews on crunches. This is helpful. I’m training for a half marathon now and I really need to start training my core. I never know where to start…. thanks!

  2. Salley Himelfarb says:

    it is really nice to have some very strong abdominal muscles but you need to workout a lot to get that great abs.`

    Newly released content coming from our web blog

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