Are you Core Training Properly?

Expert Opinion

With Guest Blogger Dr. Craig Slaunwhite

It has become popular these days for people to say they like to train their core. Core training really came to the forefront of mainstream fitness more than 10 years ago, and continues to be popular to this day. But, what do they actually mean when they say their training core? What is your definition of your core? And, are you really doing the correct exercises to achieve your desired goals?

When I ask people why they want to train their core, it usually comes down to one or a combination of these three answers.

  1. They tell me they want a flatter stomach and/or abs.
  2. They want to improve their athletic performance.
  3. They want to prevent or rehab injury.

All of these answers are perfectly reasonable outcomes from a core-focused training program. The trick is, each one should be approached differently to optimize specific outcomes.

For example, if your goal is help ail a chronically sore lower back, aimlessly banging away at sit ups may not be a great idea. Many instances of lower back pain are caused by an imbalance of length and tension between anterior and posterior muscle groups, resulting in altered posture and discomfort. Sit ups can actually accentuate this problem instead of helping it.

Guide to Core Training

Here is a very quick and extremely oversimplified guide to core exercise selection based on the three previously mentioned common objectives of core training.

  1. You want a flatter stomach and abs – Eat better! Flat stomachs and abs are made in the kitchen. #truestory
  2. You want to improve athletic performance – Move away from isolated core exercises. In most athletic scenarios, the core’s role is to stabilize and transfer (not create) energy. Full body, single leg and single arm exercises are better choices.
  3. You want to prevent injury – Select exercises that promote a balance between the length and the tension of the muscles across various joints. Generally, favor exercises that reinforce a stable, and neutral spine and pelvis.

Stay tuned for future posts where I dig deeper and provide detailed exercise prescriptions for each of the three scenarios above.