The musculature of the core is incredibly important to provide the body with both strength and stability. Throughout our series on the core, we’ve learned that that having a strong trunk is essential for injury prevention, posture, and athletic performance. To finish out our series, we’ll review the three categories of movement that we want to make sure to include in a core training program, and also discuss specific exercises you can try in each one.
A great training program should include exercises in each of the following categories:
Extension – exercises that extend (extreme version, think back bend) the spine which help strengthen the muscles of the low back and abdominals.
Anti-Extension – exercises where the purpose is to resist extension at the spine (sagittal plane exercises)
Rotation – exercises that require your body to create rotational force at the trunk.
Anti-Rotation – exercises where the purpose is to resist rotation at the lumbar spine (transverse plane exercises)
Lateral Flexion – Exercises, and often stretches, where the spine flexes sideways in the frontal plane
Anti-Lateral Flexion – Exercises where the purpose is to resist lateral flexion (sideways bending) at the spine (frontal plane exercises)
SPECIFIC EXERCISE EXAMPLES
How to Perform a a Superman: Start by lying face down on a mat, legs straight, and arms extended out straight above your head. Squeeze your glutes to slowly raise your legs and arms off of the ground. Hold. Return to starting position, and repeat. The longer you hold this movement, the more challenging it will be. Perform for prescribed number of reps.
Banded Dead Bug
How to Perform a Banded Dead Bug: Fasten a band behind you, grasp the band and extend your arms so your hands are angled slightly past your shoulders (over your chest). There should be tension in the band, but your arms should remain fairly relaxed. Pick your feet up and bend your knees to approximately 90 degrees.Tuck your ribs, brace your core, forcefully exhale, and contract the muscles around your trunk. Your lower back should remain pressed into the ground throughout the entirety of the exercise. As you exhale, slowly extend one leg, return to the starting position, and repeat with the opposite leg. Reset between each rep. The key is to keep the core engaged, lower back down, and maintain tension the entire time. If done correctly, this exercise is significantly tougher than it looks!
Other Examples of Anti-Extension:
Stability Ball Roll Out
Med Ball Rotational Throws
How to Perform a Cable Chop: Use a cable machine or band. With your side to the cable, grab the handle with both hands and step one arms length away from the tower. With your feet positioned hip width apart, rotate your torso to pull the cable across your body. Keep your arms and back in a neutral position, core tight, and return to your starting position in a slow and controlled manner. Focus on torso rotation and keeping your core tight at all times. There are many variations to this exercise including a low to high and high to low cable chop.
How to Perform a Pallof Press: Use a cable machine or band. Standing parallel to your cable/band, clasp the handle in both hands. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart, and you have a soft bend in your knees. Bring the handle up to the center of your chest, and press out, exhaling as your extend. Extend your arms fully, noting how your body wants to lean toward the cable. Don’t let it. Return your hands to your chest and repeat. Aim for a weight that makes it semi-difficult to stay standing upright, but not so difficult that you’re leaning. The key with this exercise is to focus on bracing your entire core to resist the pull of the cable. Keep your reps slow and controlled.
Other Examples of Anti-Rotation:
Plank Pull Through
Weighted Side Bend
Side Plank with Hip Tap
How To Perform This Exercise: Start by lying down on your side. Place your feet together on top of each other, or stagger your feet by placing your top leg slightly in front of the lower leg. Make sure your elbow and shoulder are in line with one another. Prop yourself up, raising your hips and keeping your body straight. Begin to lower your hip back toward the ground, then push back up to your starting position. Complete prescribed number of reps on each side.
How to Perform This Exercise: Choose a kettlebell or dumbbell that is challenging to hold. Pick up your weight, making sure you are using good form by descending into a deadlift, and maintaining a neutral spine. When the weight is in hand, simply walk forward, holding the weight at your side. Maintain proper posture in the spine, keep your arms extended, and the shoulders in a neutral position. Walk for either distance or for time. When you’ve completed the exercise, return the weight to the ground with a controlled squat.
Other Examples of Anti-Lateral Flexion:
Asymmetrically loaded lunges or step ups
There are many more exercises in these three categories than are listed here, so challenge yourself by beginning to identify which type of core exercises you are doing when you get in a workout at Hyatt Training!
Let’s get to work!
Author Erin Moussallem is a personal trainer at Hyatt Training. She believes it’s important to create health and balance in all areas of our lives, and incorporating a consistent training program is an integral component of that. Erin holds a bachelor of arts from Biola University and is a NASM certified personal trainer. Learn more about Erin, or get in touch with her by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.
Hyatt Training is a collective of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. To read more exercise-related posts like this one, follow this link.