What is your ‘core’ and what are the best ways of ensuring core training in this area of your body to be strong at all times?
I don’t like to use the word ‘core’ as it really describes nothing and has become a term used extensively in the fitness industry with no real thought or reasoning as to what it describes. I prefer to use the word ‘central’ and I refer to ‘core’ exercises as the ‘control’ exercises.
These exercises are basically the exercises that work the muscle and skeletal girdle that joins your upper body to your lower body. These muscles, and groups of muscles are involved in controlling the stability, or the movement, or both and I refer to them as the control muscles. When I was a young surf boat rower, we trained exceptionally hard, almost and probably excessively. We would regularly complete 1000 sit ups (crunches) and 1000 push ups in any one session. When I look back, both were basically useless. The former, the crunches worked my upper abs only and were not the abdominals I needed for rowing. The push ups probably made me feel better but were totally non-specific to the upper body rowing motion.
So, what are my ‘control’ exercises? These I have learned in the last 15 years (only) of training professional teams by working closely with some of the best physios and sports physicians in the world. I divide them into 3 main groups:
- Lower abs involving transversus abdominus. These are any exercise where the prime mover, or stabiliser, or both, involves this group.
- Functional and stabilizer involving gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. These are any exercises that involve glute activation (without dominant hamstring interference) to both stabilise and then allow movement.
- Proprioceptive exercises that work on the combination of everything that is involved in stability, standing, jumping and running movements.
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