England international rugby player Ben Foden knows what injury, rehabilitation and time away from the game is all about. Although frustrating it has to be put to the best possible use and it offers time to work on his fitness. A strong core is vital for rugby as it is for all sports and fitness activities. Here the flying full-back and winger puts together a rugby core workout that will strengthen your back and abs whether you play rugby or not.
Frog sit ups
The classic sit up where the feet are fixed or held down is a great abdominal exercise but this exercise also uses the hip flexors – the muscles right at the top of the thighs – to pull the torso off the floor. However, the frog sit up, with the thighs out to the side, means the hip flexors are less able to help with the movement which makes for more work for the main abdominal muscle (rectus abdominus).RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
As the abs are working hard and the feet are not pinned it helps to change hand position. So, instead of putting the hands behind the head or neck hold them out over the thighs and slide them up the legs on every rep.
Twisting is one of the main functions of the core but is often overlooked when people train this area. This movement trains the whole of the core (rectus abdominus, obliques and hip flexors) and helps tighten the waistline.
Resistance can be increased by holding your hands further out in front of you or by holding a weight – dumbbell, medicine ball or weight plate. At all times keep a strong neutral spine, trying not to arch or slump.
Bicycle crunches or chinnies are a great exercise that allow you to focus on the 6 pack muscle as well as the obliques all in one go.
As with all crunch type movements, avoid cranking your head forward by using your arms and instead gently touch the side of your head with your finger tips. You should aim to touch your knee to you elbows on every rep, but this is a challenging exercise so try not to cheat by using momentum. Keep the movement controlled.
The plank is the ultimate stability exercise, it activates and strengthens the deep abdominal muscles which act like a corset supporting the spine and drawing in all the organs for a strong, tight core. It’s an isometric (non-movement) exercise, with muscles working against each other to hold the position.
Try to keep the lower back neutral, the minute you cannot do this end the set, rest and then start again. Less higher quality work is better than more lower quality work.
Mountain climbers are a great conditioning exercise for the core and ideal for including in a circuit. The exercise hits the front and side of the core at the same time as training stability.
Try to think about locking everything in place except for the leg that is moving. In practice this will not be possible but it helps keep the hips and torso stable which trains both strength and endurance in movement and stabilisation.
Flutter kicks train the often neglected lower portion of the abdominal muscles. Note the rectus abdominus is one large muscle, however different exercises will target different parts of it.
Avoid arching the lower back. For added stability, place your hands by your sides with palms down or for a harder option lift them and your shoulders off the ground.
Ben foden fact-file:
club: Northampton Saints
DoB: 22nd July 1985
Height: 1.83m (6 feet)
weight: 93Kg (14st 9lbs)
England caps 30
Played in 2011 world cup