"Core training" is one of the most popular terms thrown around by coaches and athletes, yet many do not fully understand the actual function of the core.
Often thought of as only the abdominal muscles, the core actually includes all the muscles from the shoulder to the hip. The function of these muscles is to transfer energy between the legs and the arms. The stronger the core, the more power an athlete can display, whether jumping up for a rebound in basketball or swinging a bat in softball.
Young athletes should focus on basic core training exercises such as the Plank, but for more advanced athletes, these exercises will not be enough. As athletes grow, they must incorporate more challenging movements into their training to continue to see improvement. These exercises should work the body in all three planes of motion—frontal (side-to-side), sagittal (forward and backward) and transverse (rotational).
The role of the core is to transfer energy, not create it. This means that we must train the core to be strong and rigid, so we should avoid exercises that cause the torso to bend (Sit-Ups, Side Bends, etc.). Instead, core training should involve exercises that allow for motion through the arms and/or legs, while remaining rigid through the torso.
In the video above, I demonstrate five advanced core exercises for athletes. They are:
- Lateral Bear Crawl x 20-30 feet each direction
- Stability Ball Elbow to Hang Plank x 8-12
- Slider Arm Crawl x 30-40 feet
- Landmine 180 x 4-6 each side
- TRX Fallouts x 8-12
When performing these exercises, your focus should be to prevent even the slightest motion in your core. Two cues that will help are to imagine a string pulling the front of your rib cage and pelvis together and to think about squeezing your glutes together. If you are unable to hold this posture during any of these exercises, reduce the number of reps you perform or find a less challenging exercise, until you have the strength to perform the movement correctly.
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