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Article

TRAINING THE CORE

By Abhinav Malhotra | In Articles, Core | on
Receive valuable information on kettlebell fitness exercises & nutrition


 

Core is just not confined to  the muscles of the abdomens.

All my personal training, home training & online training clients make use of minimal or no machines at all in their trainings. If machines were so necessary, then all the warriors  of ancient times, wouldn’t have been in great shape and strong.  Human body is always unsupported & unstable in daily life/sporting activities. So why train them with the support of machines ?

As the main goal at my fitness studio is strength & conditioning (and not bodybuilding) , we focus mainly on functional training with the help different tools like Kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, TRX, Bodyweight, Bosu ball, Swiss balls, Medicine balls etc.

Functional fitness/training is the most widely misunderstood term which is defined by most people in their own ways.

Precisely, Functional movements are movements which are ‘SPECIFIC TO THE TASK’. For eg. the most functional movement for a Tennis player is to hit a forehand/backhand. Whereas for a Boxer, the most functional movement is to punch.

Broadly, Functional movements are defined as the movements which are based on real world situational biomechanics ie. which are imitated in real life day to day activities. For eg. Unsupported horizontal / vertical / multi-planar pushing & pulling, unsupported standing / stepping / lunging / climbing, lifting heavy objects from floor & keeping them at a high platform etc and other different movements patterns in all sports & daily life.

 

The MOST IMPORTANT features of all functional movements are :

  1. They are unsupported movements.
  2. They are multi-joint or compound movements (ie. involve more than one joint at a time)
  3. They can be multi-planar (ie. not confined to only one plane)
  4. They involve the use of CORE the most. Often using ‘Core to Extremity’ motor recruitment patterns ie. the power is generated from the core and then transferred to the peripheral body parts.

Hence, the majority of the exercises used in my fitness studio are based on the above 4 patterns. We use unsupported compound & power movements which strengthen the core and teach the body to work as one unit by also targeting the neurological components like coordination, balance, agility, proprioception & accuracy.

The training tools (mentioned earlier) which we use do the job of body conditioning & core strengthening beautifully. Add to that some direct abdominal work and some assistance work with the MFT, and you are done.

 

As this post is more towards core training, let us see its importance :

What is Core ?

Core of the human body refers to the group of muscles located in the central part of the body ie. the body minus the legs & arms. In strength & conditioning context, the major core muscles include the muscles of the spine & other muscles lying between the rib cage and the pelvic bone.  The main core muscles of the body are

  1. Erector Spinae group (muscles of the spine or vertebral column)
  2. Abdominal group or ‘Abs’ (rectus abdominis, internal & external obliques, transversus abdominis)
  3. Gluteal group or ‘glutes’ (gluteal maximus, gluteal medius & gluteal minimus)
  4. Para-spinal muscles (multifidus, quadratus lumboram)
  5. Hip flexor group

 

IMPORTANCE OF A STRONG CORE

1. PROTECTION: The major function of core muscles is protection to the visceral organs & spine. There is a huge cavity between the ribs & the pelvis and the only protection/support system in that region is the core muscles. A weak core means more chances of  damage in that area.

2. STABILITY: Another primary function of the core is to provide stability to the body. Human beings are biped, locomotive organisms with narrow base of support which makes the human body very unstable. Gravitational forces are continuously acting on the body the core muscles are continuously contracting isometrically to stabilize the body and preventing the spine from buckling down. All the functional movements are heavily dependant on the core. Even a normal gait (walking) cycle involves core activation all the time.

3. MOVEMENTS: Along with stability, the basic movements like bending in all directions, opening & closing of hip etc are performed by isotonic contraction of different core muscles.

4. INJURY PREVENTION: A weak/dysfunctional/inhibited core will increase the chances of injury in adjoining areas like spine & pelvic region. This is understood as ‘Kinetic Chain Ripple Effect of Human Body’ that any dysfunction, weakness, inhibition, tightness, hypomobilty, instability or fibrosis has the biggest impact on the joints closest to its origin.

5. POWER GENERATION: As core is the main link in the kinetic chain of the body, a stronger core makes a person capable of generating more power in any movement.

6. FAT LOSS: A stronger core indirectly helps in fat loss because of the capability of generating more power/strength and hence creating more EPOC in strength training sessions.

7. SPORTS PERFORMANCE: A stronger core will boost the performance of any athlete as most of the movements in sports use ‘Core to Extremity motor recruitment patterns’ and stronger a core can generate more power thereby boosting performance. Not only that, a stable midsection will also improve the gait cycle while running. A stable midsection will also  improve agility & balance thereby boosting sports performance.

8. PREVENTION OF HERNIA: A strong core can also help prevent any kind of hernia (specially inguinal hernia) as it is capable of handling the thoracic/intra-abdominal pressure created in weight training while holding the breath.

9. PREGNANCY: Women use their core muscles in labor & delivery. So a stronger core means easy child birth and less complications.

10. CONTINENCE: is the ability to hold bowel movements and urinary stress incontinence. Minor core muscles like kegel muscles/diaphragm (pelvic floor muscles) help do that.

11. AESTHETICS: If body fat % is low, a strong midsection enhances the aesthetical appeal of the body greatly by giving it a six-pack appearance anteriorly and strong & curvy lower back posteriorly.

All these points make CORE muscles, the most functional muscles of the body and hence core training so vital. Core can also be the most overtrained muscles of the body if given a lot of direct abdominal work (in a misconception that abs training will do spot fat reduction and give a six-pack look, which is physiologically not possible). Hence, it becomes very important to strengthen the core in the right way.

Abhinav Malhotra

Founder, CEO and Master Coach

Ballistic Kettlebell Fitness Academy

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