What’s the first thing most people think of when the term core is brought up?
Right … Abs.
But the core is about so much more. Especially as an athlete.
Function Of The Core
In athletics (and everyday life, really), your core has some extremely important functions, including stabilization (for posture and protection of the spine), rotation, and the transfer of forces from lower to upper body and upper to lower body.
This is not an anatomical definition, but I look at the core as any muscle that is involved in moving or stabilizing the trunk. In many cases, this will include muscles that join the trunk or pelvis to the lower body.
But remember, my philosophy is to NOT train muscles, but to train movements. When we look at the movements of the body, they occur in three different planes:
- Frontal Plane – Lateral (or side-to-side) movements
- Sagittal Plane – Linear (or front-to-back and back-to-front) movements
- Transverse Plane – Rotational (or twisting) movements
So when we train our core, this is what we need to be thinking about. Training movements that occur in these planes of motion, or combinations of them (because we would be working in more than one plane at a time with most sport movements or daily tasks).
Planning Core Workouts
As with any major movement type, we try to attack each one in a training microcycle (usually a week of training). Our thinking needs to be the same with the core.
Above, we talked about the functions of the core being stability and force transfer. Let’s call it stability (trying to actively avoid movement) and mobility (actively moving in an intended plane).
So in terms of the core we’ll need to train both stability and mobility in all three movement planes.
Using the three workouts per week, a core training template might look like this:
- Workout 1: Linear Stability and Rotational Mobility
- Workout 2: Rotational Stability and Lateral Mobility
- Workout 3: Lateral Stability and Linear Mobility
This template works very well as it reaches each movement pattern within the week.
I like this plan more for beginners, but it can be easily adapted for more advanced athletes by modifying the template a little or even just introducing more advanced exercises.
So, here’s a sample plan for beginners.
Sample Beginner Core Training Plan
- Workout 1 (Monday): Plank and Russian Twist
- Workout 2 (Wednesday): Stability Ball Supine Rotational Hold and Stability Ball Lateral Trunk Raise
- Workout 3 (Friday): Side Plank and Bird Dog
Don’t forget, with linear mobility, we have to hit both flexion and extension movements.
The plank gets linear flexion stability and the bird dog hits linear extension mobility.
As always, make sure you change up your workouts every month or so. This includes your core training.
Treat your core like any other movement that’s part of your workout, and you will see much greater results.