Simplified Approach to Core Training

Posted by Chris Weddell on 3 March 2015

Simplified Approach to Core Training

Recently I’ve been reading a book by the great strength and conditioning coach (and almost everything regarding human performance) Dan John, what I really enjoy about his work is its simplicity and how incredibly effective it is. He’s a no nonsense guy who gets straight to the point. I love one of his famous quotes which relates very well to this article “I said it was simple, I never said it was easy”. So keep this in mind when reading what follows….

I like to think of the core as being the engine of the human body - if you have a sloppy core with poor function (refer to previous article on core function)  it doesn’t matter how strong  your extremities are - you are leaving performance on the table if your core isn’t pulling its weight so to speak. It’s like having a car with a mint set of wheels and a substandard set of shocks, chassis, and a piss poor engine. Expecting a good performance and no injuries from this set up isn’t going to happen unless you’re only keen at putting along at a slow rate (but honestly who wants to do that? I sure don’t!!)

So using a simplified approach is a great way to start. Let’s look at the core in a different way - what is its main function? I would lean strongly towards protecting the spine and internal organs. So to gain this you need to have a well rounded and balanced strength and conditioning plan (I would definitely look at my previous article on core function to get an idea of reflex core function too). These are the components that need to be in the mix to get a solid engine, chassis and shocks:

1. Anti extension (anterior core) - i.e.:  my favourite - ab wheel roll out

2. Anti flexion (posterior core/chain) – ie: lifting something heavy off the ground, with a hip hinge, the best probably being a dead lift (if you have no idea how to do this lift please don’t be stupid and try it, get a trained professional to teach you the proper mechanics, I cant stress this enough because this can stuff your back if not done correctly).

(IF YOU CANT DO A DEADLIFT DON’T FOB THIS OFF IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE THIS MOVEMENT PATTERN, GET HELP TO REGAIN IT! TRUST ME YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!!!)

3. Anti Lateral flexion – ie: My favourite is the suitcase carry (Kettlebell or dumbbell in one hand) no need to go too heavy here, form is important!

4. Anti rotational – ie: palloff press with band or cable machine.

So the common trend here is ‘anti’, we are training the core to resist movement in different plains of motion, remember the spine and organs are our lifeline we need to protect them!

Feel free to explore different exercises that work these movements (or anti movements) but be smart about it!

Oh and this is simple stuff but by no means is it easy!!!

Recommended Reading – Dan John, Never let go (or any of his books/articles/blogs)

Chris Weddell