Throw the Ball Harder, Swing Faster and Tackle More Powerfully With Three Core Exercises

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Contrary to popular belief, the core is more than just ab muscles. So when you see someone rip out 100 Crunches in the weight room, he's only developing a small part of his possible core strength.

In fact, the core includes muscles from the thighs to the chest, including the obliques, low back extensors, hip flexors and glutes. All of these areas function together to efficiently transfer force between the upper and lower body.

To effectively train these muscles, focus on exercises that target the core in different planes of motion. For example, perform exercises that involve flexion [Physioball Jackknife], extension [Med Ball Back Hypers] and rotation [Med Ball Rotational Throws] to gain the full benefits of core training. With these three exercises, you will throw the ball harder, swing faster and tackle more powerfully.

Med Ball Rotational Throws

  • Assume athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Stand with partner or wall five yards to the left
  • Explosively rotate through core and throw med ball at partner/wall
  • Maintain tight abs and stable lower body during rotation
  • Receive med ball and repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with partner or wall to right

Sets/Reps: 2x10-15 each side

Benefits: This is a full core workout that strengthens the core rotators and hips, which is the course of strength and power for rotational movements like hitting, throwing and changing direction.

Physioball Jackknife

  • Assume Push-Up position and dig toes into top of ball
  • Keeping back flat and core stable, pull knees to chest, rolling ball towards hands
  • Extend hips and knees to roll ball to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 4x10

Benefits: Because it strengthens essential core stabilizers, this exercise protects against injuries and provides stability throughout contact movements such as tackling, breaking tackles and boxing out.

Back Hypers

  • Assume position on Hyper machine with upper body perpendicular to floor
  • Position hands on back of head
  • Raise upper body until parallel to floor
  • Lower with control
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2x15-18

Benefits: This exercise offsets focus on the abs by creating proportionate core strength. A balanced core efficiently and safely transfers force between the upper and lower body, which translates into more power for your sport.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock