Core training is an essential building block for improving physical performance for athletes of all levels. The core or midsection as its names imply is central to efficient human movement patterns. Almost every movement in sport or in day to day life requires the midsection to provide stability and transfer force to the extremities.
The muscles of the deep core work on a reflex level, they are not called in to action as readily as the prime movers in the arms and legs used in typical pulling and pressing movements. These patterns are learned during early childhood but can become dysfunctional through habitual movement (or lack of movement) patterns.
Core training requires more than isolating and strengthening the abdominals. The muscles of the midsection work in coordination when providing stability or generating force. Core training improves coordination of the muscles of the midsection and their ability to provide stability to the limbs. The strength of the extremities should not exceed the strength of the core, as Bruce Lee said:
“My strength comes from my abdomen. It’s the centre of gravity and the source of real power.”
What are elite athletes doing to train the midsection? Gymnasts are some of the strongest athletes around. Chris Sommer, an American national level gymnastic coach recommends building a foundation of core strength before progressing to more advanced movements. His popular on-line training courses (aimed at civilians) do exactly that. Gray Cook has been very successful reducing injury and improving performance among elite athletes such as American footballers. His approach also focusses on addressing weaknesses and imbalances in core strength as a priority.
We run a weekly class on Monday evenings dedicated to core training and incorporate core training into our Total Fitness classes. See timetable for details.
Some of the movements pictured may appear easy but when performed correctly they can be surprisingly challenging.