It has been one of the big "buzz words" in popular training for years now. It is also an emphasis for many high level / professional athletes. I don't think the "mainstream" and the professional athlete think of core training in the same way however and are working toward very different goals.
What do you all think of when you hear the term "core strength" or "core training?
Is it something that you emphasize in your own workout?
If not, why not?
If so, what types of exercises do you do?
I personally feel weak if my abs are out of shape. They're "out of shape" even when they're still completely visible, I just mean when they're weak and can't even take a moderate punch to the gut. When I can get punched moderately hard and not feel a thing is when I consider them in shape.
I try to put it in all of my workouts, but sometimes I skip out because I tend to do abs on more days than my workouts. Sometimes I just get sick of doing ab things and put it off for the next few hours but never really come around to doing them haha.
My main exercises are bicycles, salute planks, hanging leg raises (legs fully extended), side plank, and V-ups. I do some others (like holding the L-seat position in a static hold or while doing pull ups) but the ones I just mentioned are my main ones.
i do decline situps. but i aspire to do this one day
IMO, core strength is an individual's general ability to control spinal rotation, flexion and extension.
The stronger your core, the better you can transfer force from the limbs. Allowing you to move weight and do work more efficiently.
Getting a ripped 6-pack has a lot more to do with losing body fat.
Last edited by Raleighwood; 04-17-2011 at 03:47 PM.
My 10 week cut results
"Sweat in training so you don't bleed in battle."
6'2 - 105kg (231lb)
My opening post states that there are many opinions and ideas about the idea of "core strength". After this, I ask a few questions to try to illicit board members personal opinions about core strength from their personal experience and workouts.
I guess that is really it. I'm trying to understand what this group (who are mainly focused on bodybuilding and / or powerlifting) thinks of when they hear the phrase "core strength" or "core exercises".
I'm not sure how to better explain what I'm trying to figure out.
If it is not of general interest, it will shortly fall off the front page and fade away..................
You can delete the thread if you wish. It won't bother me in the least.
I won't delete it. I was just curious what you were trying to figure out.
Core work is for the abs, intercostals, obliques, lower back etc. That's pretty much the only definition I have ever seen.
I do lots of core work work........ squats and deadlifts.
I was just curious. Being involved in a few different sports, I've seen "the core" "worked" in a number of different ways.
General Fitness Crowd: Focus is of course on "the six pack". Typically I see lots of sit-ups / crunches. I see women often doing a larger variety of exercises. Often derived from aerobics.
To generalize, most of the time, the exercises are done wrong. Often, other muscles are emphasized, momentum is used, etc. Generally speaking, I think women do "core" exercises far better than men (meaning, they have better form). Men seem to want to do the "manly, hard ones", but don't bother building up the necessary strength to actually execute these with good form (think captain's chair or hanging leg raises done with lots of momentum, bicycles done with really bad form, 45-degree+ sit-ups with lots of momentum, etc).
Weightlifting / bodybuilding: Usually this crowd just talks about squats and deadlifts in relation to core strength. Everything else is looked down on and mocked.
Tennis Players: The few tennis players that I have know that are "serious" about "core exercises", generally focus on plyometric type exercises and other fairly basic (but good) exercises. Often the focus is on more "dynamic" type work, but "static" work is used as well.
Plyometric training seems to be a staple for most "athletes". Meaning, for people that don't just train to train, but train for a particular sport. I incorporate different plyometric exercises into my weekly routine and have been quite pleased with the results.
Gymnastics This is where my focus has been on and off for a few years and is my main focus now. I'm only trying to do the "basic" gymnast strength skills. L-seat, back lever, front lever, and various presses and holds from various leverage positions.
From the start I realized that these athletes have even more "core strength" (and other strength) than I previously thought. I always knew they were strong. I just didn't realize how strong you need to be to execute even the most basic looking of skills.
Anyway, when I hear someone talk about going into the gym to "work my core" I always wonder exactly what they will be doing. "Working your core" means so many different things to different people.
I do more than squats and deadlifts, but those are two that will tax you core more than anything. Im into anything dynamic and functional. I just hate when people say core work and crunches come up
The funny thing about "core" exercises is the attitude most men take toward them. Most are bodyweight exercises, so they can be made quite challenging (based upon what type of leverage disadvantages you incorporate into them).
However, most men I think view them as "girly" exercises and wouldn't be caught dead doing them in public. Funny thing, when I see most guys do these in the gym, they do them with such poor form, that the real point of the exercise is lost. Basically, I think most guys are somewhat embarrassed do be seen actually having problems doing these "girly" things. Women on the other hand often have very good form.
Anyway, I think the "squats and deads are enough core work" crowd would be very surprised to discover just how weak their core really is (though I'm sure they'd never admit it to themselves).
Deadlifts and squats do work the core pretty well, but I don't feel like those are the best exercises for core. I think the best ones are more specialized, such as the many variations of the plank, hanging leg raises, and so on (I could list a bunch). I make progress (visible and functional progress) with my core much more with those bodyweight exercises than I would ever be able to make with squats and deadlifts. In my opinion, squats and deadlifts go a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of actual core strength (with the exception of the lower back) because they hit so many of the "core" muscles, but never to the extent that core-specific exercises do.
Last edited by colinS3; 04-20-2011 at 02:38 PM.
^^ Fortunately, it is not an "either/or" proposition. You can do squat/deads and core specific work (and still be a man ).
Of course it is a little unfair to compare bodyweight exercises with weighted exercises. They are often just very different. For example, I know lots of guys on this site can squat over 400 lbs., but I wouldn't be surprised to see the same guys having trouble doing even one "pistol" or single-leg squat with good form. And the guy that can do the pistol, often can't do the 400 lb. squat.
Still, I imagine most people would have trouble doing something as basic as an L-seat in good form (especially on the ground without using stands), but it is really a very "basic" core (and shoulder and triceps) exercise:
Anyway, "core" exercises have a bad name in the "serious" gym crowd (that I think is completely undeserved), mostly because it is seen as what "they" do (they being the non-serious "six pack abs" crowd).
Last edited by r2473; 04-20-2011 at 03:12 PM.
Bench: 45 lbs Bench: 235 lbs
Squat: 95 lbs Squat: 285 lbs
Deadlift: 100 lbs Deadlift: 330 lbs
Having a six pack has nothing to do with having a strong core. I was talking to Cal Dietz(university of minnesotas head strength and conditioning coach) last weekend and he said that those flat firness model 6 packs are disfuntional not not functional but disfunctional. That great athletes with strong cores have big guts and butts.
I'll probably get guff for this cause alts of people dont like him but hes either a genius or insane
I also see guys who train abs all the time and weigh 150lbs with their little six pack cant do a plank for 30 sec
and chubby 250lb kids who squat and can do planks for 2min
core as far as abs goes for me is the internal obliques and transverse abdominus whereas the showy 6pack muscles are the external obliques and rectus abdominus, and i realize you cant isolate but two sabalize and two flex, besides most guys do more hip flexor work than actual ab work especially on stuff like hanging leg raises, thats the number1 exercise i see done wrong
To me, core is the center of your body and what supports movement of all of your limbs. A strong AND coordinated core allows transfer of force from muscles to joints and the outside world.
As far as core training goes, I think if your doing some form of the "big 3" then all you need is some additional anti-flexion work (ex rollouts) and anti-rotation work (pallof press).
I dont think situps/crunches are a good way to develop core strength, but may be better for general abdominal endurance/work capacity. Most people do these exercise incorrectly. When doing a crunch, most people have way to much ROM (mostly in the hips). The trunk should extend a little bit past horizontal, and then the abdominals should contract maximally. But there probably is only like 20-30 deg of motion here, not the typical 90 deg you see people doing.
Edit: core training for an athlete is very different. They have much more chaotic demands placed upon them and faster movement velocities. Not only do they need strength in all directions, but they also need a high level of reactive strength.
Last edited by Dan Fanelli; 04-21-2011 at 10:25 PM.
I think that the hip flexors/ psoas muscles are very important to the core as well, they will actually generate more power and force than the rectus abdominals themself will. The specific core work that you need really depends on the sport you are trying to enhance.
The basic core exercises are important for any sport, and general overall injury risk reduction. Mainly, good back support and posture.
For sport specific, I like to go further and mimic the movements of the sport with the core work. For instance, as a fighter, I do a lot of med ball work. That way I particularly work on generating core power and moving it through my arms away from my body, ie med ball sit-up/ throw and med ball side twists, or whatever you call em, standing sideways to the wall and tossing the ball at a wall in a twisting motion. Playing catch with yourself! For boxing, I like this because I can focus on throwing off my back foot, as you want to with a punch. For Jiu Jitsu, any leg lift exercises or haning ab work is great. Also, turkish get ups to work on sweeps from the bottom and winning core strength in a scramble. Add partner training, like repetitive sit outs with a guy on your back, or having a partner stand and sit up from your guard with your legs wrapped around his waist, and you're on your way to having one hell of a core for jits or MMA.
This is all ancillary work though, I always felt that the greatest core work came from training. Sparring is so reactive, you have to contract and move quickly and without the precise thought out reps. Wrestling and grappling will crush your core, and if you wrestle somebody with a stronger core you will feel it in their base. Almost all forms of MMA training are extremely core strengthening on their own.
This is just an example through my sport. Same principles can be applied to most sports.
Surprisingly to many, sit ups, crunches, etc... don't work you core. Your core gets better activated when your body is fighting to keep itself stable under a load. Squats and overhead squats are great for building core, as well as using kettlebells. Have you ever tried one-arm bench press with a bar (not dumbbell). Your body (core) is forced to engage as your trying to balance the bar through the motions of the press. Planks are also great for core.
Back Squat 435lbs
Shoulder Press 195lbs
Bench Press 315lb