The biggest mistake in power training is not focusing on a creating a strong foundation first. Power on an unstable base will lead to inefficient movement and injuries.
You wouldn’t build your house on sand so why would you try to increase power without a strong, balanced foundation?
A strong foundation or “core” helps decrease risk for injury, promotes good posture, and improves coordination and power during sports. You’ll walk, run, bike, row, and move better.
Simply stated- if you didn’t have your core muscles, you would fall flat on your face. They play an important role in balance, posture and fighting the effects of gravity.
If you’re paralyzed from neck down and your core muscles aren’t working, you can’t hold your body upright without external support. A weak core makes it difficult to move your arms and legs efficiently and puts you more at risk for injury.
WHAT'S YOUR CORE? It’s much more than just your abdominals. Your core involves a complex series of muscles from arm pits to hips and helps keep the spine aligned during movement. It’s involved in almost every movement the body makes.
Your core muscles protect your spine from forces like when walking on ice or the impact of running.
They also stabilize/support your spine during dynamic activities so that you can reach for a cup in the cabinet, pick up the laundry off the floor, carry the groceries, walk, run, kick a soccer ball or hit a golf ball. They help you balance on grass or unstable objects like a stand up paddle board or bike.
You get the idea. You need them for all functional daily activities and definitely for sports.
Don't be fooled by someone with a 6 pack! Those chiseled abs don't mean they have a strong core. They've most likely overdeveloped the outer most abdominals (i.e. rectus abdominis) only.
For a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to focus on being functionally strong versus only having strong abdominals.
Developing the deeper core muscles with full body movements will help build strength, efficient movement, and prevent injury during all your daily and sports activities. The core muscles also need to be turned on and challenged as it's very easy for the body to start compensating with other muscle groups.
We’ve got 3 key fundamental core exercises to add to your fitness plan that will give you the best bang for your buck and can be done anywhere at any time.
THE PLANK, PUSHUP AND SQUAT!
These are full body exercises that target the core’s ability to stabilize and will help you build strength, power and good posture.
The plank will turn on all the core muscles while you hold the position.
The pushup will put weight on your arms while the squat will put weight on your legs as you move them on a stable core.
Working against gravity in all positions will help build your strength. The longer you hold them, the more you build your core endurance.
Ender shows you the sequence in the video below.
First a few tips:
1. HOW TO MODIFY
Modify these exercises if you're new to these movements or haven’t done them in a while.
To modify the plank and pushup, start with your hands on the wall or counter and work your way to the floor. Or you can start them on the floor with your knees down and progress to knees off.
To modify the squat, you can do it with some support like against the wall or while holding onto the kitchen sink. Progress to no support and work your way to squatting fully to the floor.
You’ll want to modify if you have had a back or neck injury or are post-partum. Consult your health care provider if you need more help with modifications. You shouldn’t begin these exercises if you are pregnant and new to them or have a recent injury.
2. FOCUS ON FORM
During all movements, you want to:
3. THE GOAL
Add these 3 core exercises to your cardio routine 3 days a week. Start by holding the plank 10 seconds and do 10 reps of the pushup/squats. Do 1-3 sets of each exercise. Overtime build your endurance to holding planks 60-90 seconds and 15-20 reps of pushup/squats (1-3 sets).
Now it’s time for you to build a strong core. Click on the video below to get started:
Got a running or workout buddy you think would enjoy these exercises? Please share this blog post with them.
Mollie & Ender
P.S. Want to get stronger with less effort? Download this 3-minute Active Recovery Yoga Routine to help you train smarter, it's free!
Mollie Miller, PT