Core Training For Athletic Performance: Level 1 Exercises
A strong core is not necessarily an efficient core.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a great start. Just like you would have to teach your body how to throw a baseball you have to teach your core how to fire properly while running or performing anything else athletic.
Here’s the problem I have with most training programs they train efficiency when they don’t have any strength to make efficient! We have all seen gyms that have rows of kids balancing on discs and doing single leg RDLs.
Truth be told this exercise isn’t inherently bad….but the programming is terrible.
What exactly are you training – the riblets these kids have for abs?
Step 1: Get Stronger
Step 2: Get More Efficient.
Step 3: Repeat.
Between steps 1 and 2 there is going to be some carryover.
What’s This “Efficiency Crap?”
In this article I will focus primary on speed development because everyone is familiar with the basic running motion. While the right knee is pumped into the air, the left arm is forward. They quickly (hopefully) they switch.
The posterior chain and lower body overall is crucial to strengthen. Also, a secondary, but still important, factor is the arm punch.
As the arms and legs violently switch positions, the unsung hero of athleticism is the ability to quickly brace and fire the core (that efficiency stuff I’ve been harping on). This applies to swinging a bat, making a pass rush, throwing a punch, making a fast and agile cut, and almost every quick movement associated with people athletic.
Wait! The Core’s Function Isn’t Good Facebook Profile Mirror Pics???OMG.
Believe it or not, the core provides a more important function for athletes than just being able to take a picture of them in the mirror and post on your facebook wall.
Our boy Crazy Jeff would be dissapointed…
Picture this: I ask you to stick your arms out in front of you like frankenstien walking. Relax your core and I’m going to grab your arms and shake them. The result would be your whole upper body would move.
Now picture this: Same set-up but this time I tell you to brace with your core. Each time I push your arms, you will move far less and expend less energy repositioning yourself back to center.
This to what happens while running. However the core firing and bracing has to happen at a much more rapid pace. Instead of moving slowly and bracing against me shaking your arms, now your core has to brace against explosive upper body and lower body movements without ”leaking” any energy out and slowing down the athlete.
Again, I’m talking about sprinting because most people know the form, but this applies to MUCH MORE!
Level 1 Solutions
Before even making the core reflex at high velocity, it is smart to learn how you want the body to work under controlled circumstances.
Exercise 1: Plank Shoulder Tap
Let’s lock everything in place, ESPECIALLY THE HIPS just move the arms. Perform 3-5 sets of 15-30 seconds with 1:1 rest to work ratio.
Exercise 2: Sprinter Planks
To add extra cross core bracing, progress to the sprinter position planks. Perform 3-5 sets of 30 seconds each foot position.
==>> Further Recommendations:< I’ve just scratched the surface of this topic. I’d suggest learning the complete topic using Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold (Head Physical Therapist Boston Red Sox) with their Functional Stability Training.
I learned from these guys after buying their shoulder performance DVDs last year and now spending a week pouring over Functional Stability Training.
- Joe Hashey, CSCS -