Core Exercises That Athletes Must Do

STACK Expert Jim Carpentier prescribes four exercises for athletes who want to build functional core strength to power their on-field performance.

Diagonal Med Ball Chop

Supine, Prone and Side Planks, Crunches, Seated Med Ball Twists, and Med Ball Sit-ups are all great core exercises. When you're an athlete, however, the more functional core-strengthening exercises are performed while standing to simulate on-field sports movements.

The following exercises promote core strength and stability while enhancing balance, all of which transfer to better on-field performance. You'll find these exercises challenging since they're all done with one foot off the ground to optimally engage your stabilizer muscles (i.e., lower and middle back, inner and outer thigh, upper and lower abdominal, hip and oblique muscles), which help your balance and facilitate twisting, turning, lunging and reaching diagonally or overhead.

Equipment

Moderately heavy med ball

Guidelines

Sets/Reps: 2x10

Rest: 30 seconds between sets; 45 seconds between exercises for hydration

Core Workout

Single-Leg Med Ball Twists

  • Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent and your right foot off the floor.
  • Hold the med ball at chest level with your arms extended in front of you.
  • Slowly rotate your torso to the left while bringing the ball laterally left.
  • Pause one second, then slowly return to the start position for 10 reps.
  • Without rest, do 10 right Ball Twists.
  • Switch legs (with your left foot off the ground this time) and do 10 left Ball Twists, then 10 Ball Twists to the right.

Sport-relevant examples: Twisting during handoffs in football; turning quickly to catch a baseball.

Single-Leg Med Ball to Foot

  • Stand on your left leg with your right foot off the ground.
  • Hold the med ball overhead and extend your arms in front of you.
  • Slowly bring the ball down toward your left foot while simultaneously bending your left knee.
  • Pause one second, then slowly return to the starting position.
  • After 10 reps, switch sides and do 10 reps.

Sport-relevant examples: Reaching overhead to catch a high throw and then reaching down to apply a tag in baseball or softball; reaching overhead to grab and pull down a rebound in basketball.

Single-Leg Explosive Med Ball Rows

  • Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent and your right foot off the floor.
  • Hold the med ball with your arms extended down to your left knee.
  • Explosively pull the ball toward your waist, pause one second, then slowly lower the ball to the starting position in three seconds.
  • After 10 reps, switch sides and repeat.

Sport-relevant examples: Pulling movement in football (tackling); picking a bouncing football off the turf and running with it; pulling down a wrestling opponent or pulling the opponent toward you while grappling on the mat.

Single-Leg Diagonal Med Ball Chops

  • Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent and your right foot off the floor.
  • Hold the med ball above your right ear and slowly bring the ball down toward your left hip.
  • Pause one second and slowly return to the start position.
  • While still standing on your left leg, hold the ball above your left ear and bring it down across your body toward your right hip.
  • Do 10 reps.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Sport-relevant examples: Reaching up and down with a lacrosse stick; reaching diagonally up or diagonally down to catch a football or baseball.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | CORE | MEDICINE BALL EXERCISES | MED BALL