Rethink the way you train your core for a stronger, injury-repelling midsection to benefit every aspect of your fitness.
Words: fitness coach Luke Goulden
For most people, core training means an endless number sit-ups, crunches, Russian twists and so on.
But the trouble with these exercises is that they require a load of movement, especially through spinal flexion – which, when done repeatedly, can lead to pain and discomfort.
Instead, it helps to understand a bit about how the body functions, and how you can maximise your training to improve how it functions and feels.
Your core muscles exist to resist excessive motion in the spine. As such, it pays to train them to get better at doing just that.
- Pay attention to your hips: maintain a partial posterior pelvic tilt, or slight tuck of your tailbone, throughout. Imagine wearing a belt and trying to tilt the belt buckle up towards your chin.
- Focus on your breathing: inhale and exhale down into your abdominals.
- Maintain a neutral spine position at all times.
FOR EACH EXERCISE:
Reps: 45-60 secs each side
Rest: 30-45 secs
THE BULLET-PROOF CORE WORKOUT
1. Deadbug ISO Hold
- Lie down, and fix your lower back to the floor – keep it in contact throughout.
- Reach to the sky and pull your shoulder blades apart (protraction).
- Lightly touch your toes on the floor with bent knees, and hold.
- The deeper and longer the breath, the better.
- Remember: toes just lightly on the floor and don’t let your shoulders drop.
2. High Plank Knee to Elbow
- Start by stacking your shoulders directly over your hands, keeping your arms straight, and push away from the floor.
- Bring your right knee up to your right elbow – as close as possible – and hold.
- Hold for time, then switch sides.
3. Single-Leg Hollow Hold
- The key here is resisting extension in the spine – in other words preventing your lower back from arching/extending, while maintaining a braced midsection.
- Keep a partial posterior tilt, breathe down into your stomach and pull your belly button down into your body.
- Reach towards your feet if reaching over your head compromises your hip/back position.
- Fully extend one leg and bend the other into the body.
4. High Side Plank with Reach
- This exercise will bring balance and length to your body.
- Keep the supporting arm below the shoulder, keep the hip elevated away from the floor, and again that slight tuck of the tailbone.
- I prefer not to stack my feet on top of each other, but do what works for you.
- Reach overhead with your arm and hold.
5. Single-Arm High Plank
- Start in your high plank position – the main difference here is to go wider with your feet to help with a more stable base.
- Once you feel stable, lift the arm and extend it down the side of your body.
- With the supporting arm, push away from the floor. Again, keep that tailbone slightly tucked, and remember to breathe.
6. High Side Plank Knee to Elbow
- Start with both legs extended on the floor, with your shoulder above your supporting arm.
- Slowly draw your knee to your elbow and hold.
- Focus on breathing, and maintain that slight tuck of the hips.