Challenging Your Core!
The importance of challenging the core can easily be overlooked in a training program. Many times we get stuck on doing the same exercises for the core; guess what we stop getting results! The bodies core remember consists of our abdominal muscles (all of them), low back and hips. Often times we work the upper abdominal wall and low back but forget about the obliques, lower abdominal wall and hips. These are extremely important when looking at core development for the athlete. Below I have listed simple things you can do to engage your core at a higher level during your workouts.
1. Think about engaging your core during your workout by standing tall with good posture. Hold your abdominal wall tight throughout your lifts. Many individuals forget this and instead end up using momentum to complete their set.
2. Try picking your feet up when you are using a flat bench or incline bench for lifting. Make sure you try this with lighter weight first so you are aware of how much harder it is. Start with your knees bent and 90 degrees throughout the lift you are doing, then if you want to kick it up a notch hold them straight out. I warn you if you do not have an extremely STRONG core base do not try this. Having your legs straight out puts tremendous stress on the core, especially the low back.
3. Add variety to your core exercises between your normal lifts. The picture above is a great exercise (physio ball pike) that challenges the entire core along with your upper body as a secondary. If you have not done physio ball core work practice rolling yourself out to the starting position shown above and rolling back before you execute the pike. Don't be surprised if it takes you a few sessions of doing this before you are ready for the pike.
The bottom line is there are hundreds of ways to challenge your core during your workouts! Take a minute and examine your routine, are you getting enough core work in? Is there enough variety to your core workouts? Is your entire core being challenged throughout your workouts?