There’s a reason why pro athletes like Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning and Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander train their entire cores—and it goes well beyond sculpting a washboard stomach.
“A strong core enables you to be a strong athlete and more efficient in your movements,” says Colorado Rapids fitness coach John Ireland.
A strong, balanced core supports the body’s structure, enabling you to execute a skill consistently, powerfully and safely. But to develop the strength to do so, you’ve got to train your entire core, including crucially important, lesser-known muscles.
The abdominal muscles are only one part of the core. The others are the obliques, low back extensors, hips flexors and glutes. All of these areas function together to efficiently transfer force between the upper and lower body.
If your core is weak, your lower or upper body can’t efficiently transfer force. And your body will attempt to compensate with extra movement, resulting in loss of balance.
Strengthening the entire core requires more than performing Crunches. Use functional exercises like Olympic lifts, variations of the Plank, and single-leg or single-arm exercises. These force you to use your hips, glutes, abs and back muscles to stabilize and generate power during an athletic skill.
Incorporating stability and rotational exercises is the key to successful core training. To gain the full benefits, replace exercises that involve flexion while lying on your back (e.g., Crunches) with off-the-ground, functional exercises.
Total Core Exercises
Throw out your ab-busting six-pack routine and add these performanceenhancing exercises to your workouts.
Med Ball Rotational Throws
Sets/Reps: 2x10-15 each side
Benefits: This exercise is a full core workout that strengthens the core rotators and hips, the source of strength and power for rotational movements involved in hitting, throwing and changing direction.
Benefits: This unstable exercise strengthens the essential core stabilizers, which guard against injuries and provide stability throughout contact movements such as tackling, breaking tackles and boxing out.
Med Ball Back Hypers
Benefits: This extension exercise offsets focus on the abs and creates proportionate core strength. A balanced core efficiently and safely transfers force between the upper and lower body, which translates into more power.