These days it seems like everything you read in the popular media talks up the benefits of training the “core” for optimum health and performance. Unfortunately, the majority of the gizmos, trendy articles, and example exercises are incredibly skewed toward training the abdominals leading to an over-implementation of abdominal work among well intentioned coaches and athletes. While the abdominals are a very important piece of the core puzzle, they are certainly not the only important component. In reality, the core is essentially all of the components of the axial skeleton—scapulae to pelvis with all of the muscle, bone, and fascia in between.
The core—complete with all of its muscle, bone, and fascia—is a powerful friend in human movement as it allows force transfer between upper and lower body. Without developing a strong and stable core, optimal performance will be an elusive animal as the unaddressed energy leaks will thwart the best efforts. Sadly, improper core training like a focus on a single muscle group of the core at the expense of another can worsen or create energy leaks, which lead to injury, pain syndromes, or simply sub-optimal force production and speed. This means that the even the best intentioned athletes who dedicate a significant portion of their training time to “core training” (read: endless crunches, sit-ups, and twists) can end up injured, frustrated, and unwilling to “waste” time on training the core in the future. While the athlete’s training was likely a waste, a properly integrated approach to core training would be a valuable accompaniment to energy systems training.
Train hard, train smart,