When one thinks of the “core”, they often relate that to the front of their stomach – the abdominals to be precise. However, what if I told you that the core is much more than just the front of the stomach and is in fact much more multifaceted than that. What if I told you that the core is a complex series of muscles that includes everything besides your arms and legs.
Does this change your perspective?You see, most individuals who train their core do not actually understand what they are training or the impact of each exercise they are performing. Often, core strength training happens solely in isolation as it is being trained as a prime mover- mistake #1.
Instead, try and visualize the core as dimensional, with the ability to move in 3 different planes of motion while providing stabilization and force transfer throughout the human spine. Change from doing back extensions and crunches to more functional movements such as deadlifts, squats, and pushups that incorporate the use of closed chain kinetic movements.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
By incorporating more functionality into your training, you will notice increased core strength gains and a more efficient movement pattern.
Once core strength and stability is mastered through the ability to protect our spine and surrounding musculature while in static, then we can move on to training the core through the use of force transfer- controlling the force that we produce. Mistake #2 happens when we lack proper core strength stability and progress to exercises that include dynamic movements which produce force.
Our core cannot effectively or efficiently transfer this produced force, which places excessive and undue strain on our spine and musculature during dynamic movements. Research has shown that athletes who have a high level of core stability have a lower risk of injury, proven through the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).
Properly assessing your core stability through the easily measured FMS test will provide you with researched results and effective corrective strategies and exercises that you can incorporate into your core strength training program. Some additional core strength training mistakes that are not usually suspected involve form and function.
Think of unstable balance training with a focus meant to be on the core- mistake #3. Instead of focusing on strengthening your core through unstable surface modalities, change your training location to a stable surface where you will be able to lift heavier weight versus a lower amount on an unstable surface.
In order to isolate and innervate muscles groups to accomplish a goal (i.e. increase muscle size), the muscle has to be overloaded.
On an unstable surface that is hard to do and thus the body part-specific training is lost, as one cannot lift as much weight. Focus instead on core strength training that involves lifting a good amount of weight on feet that are stable and squarely planted. Lastly, mistake #4 and #5 usually go hand in hand when we think of proper form and posture.
Frequently trainers gently remind their clients to use and maintain proper form as they are doing an exercise. When lifting weights, especially larger amounts, it is crucial that form is the most important over the amount of weight.
Developing the mind-muscle connection throughout your core strength training program will help you know how the muscles should feel prior to contracting and isolating them, allowing you to make the necessary adjustments when needed in order to properly contract and stretch the muscle(s) at the appropriate time.
Keeping in hindsight your posture will also help add to proper form as well as contribute to building and maintaining core strength. When standing or sitting, make sure to take note of spinal position, aligning the body so that the pull of gravity is evenly distributed.
Everything should be in a straight line- with your head straight, chin parallel to floor, shoulders aligned with ears, knees straight, and a slight forward curve of the low back. Commonly, posture can be a causing factor of what we call the “stomach pooch” or “belly budge”; be sure to maintain awareness of your posture, when both standing and sitting, to see if standing up straight helps to eliminate.
Be patient with yourself throughout this core strength training process change. Once habits are built, they can be hard to break. Slowly adjust the way of your training to incorporate a more functional and progressive environment that will be sure to leave you with strong and pleasant changes amongst your core.