As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of core training exercises.
Whether it’s bulletproofing the lower back, controlling the hips and pelvis, or helping someone improve their athleticism, a strong and stable core can help you get there faster.
But here’s the thing – too often, there’s no rhyme or reason to our core training exercises.
We simply default, not only as athletes, but trainers and coaches as well, to what we’re familiar with.
Or worse, something random we see on the Internet.
So today, I’m going to make this really easy for you.
Below are my Top 3 Reaching Core Training exercises. Chances are you’ve seen one (or all) of them before, but I can’t stress enough how important they can be.
Reaching core exercises are fantastic because:
- They engage your serratus anterior. Serratus anterior helps pull your ribcage (and your center of gravity) back. Too many of us are locked into an extension-based pattern, and serratus can help us restore some flexion to our system.
- They engage your deep core muscles. While many clients and athletes are focused solely on the big, show ab muscles, the deep ab muscles like transverse abdominus and internal oblique are critical for building a midsection that can control position over the ribcage and pelvis.
- Baby got back. Unlike supine core training exercises, reaching core training exercises allow the back side of your body to fill and expand with air. Quite simply if you can’t get air into a space in your body, you can’t move in that direction. So if you want to be able to squat, change levels, etc., then you need to be able to get air into the back side of your body.
Not that we’ve covered some of the benefits of reaching core training exercises, let’s talk about my Top 3 exercises.
You may not be ready for all of them today, so start easy and work your way through the progression.
#1 – The Plank
The plank is often considered a “basic,” or easy, core training exercise.
And in many ways, it is.
But what I find more often than not is that most confuse “basic” with “easy.”
And let me tell you – if done correctly, a well-executed plank is anything but easy!
When performing the plank, there are really two key things to focus on:
- Getting three points of contact. If you can’t figure this out on your own, make sure to use a PVC pipe or broomstick like I demonstrate in the video below.
- That your lordosis (or lower back curve) is not exaggerated.
With that being said, here’s a brief video on how I coach the plank:
Start with three rounds of 30 second holds. As you go from week-to-week, add 5-10 seconds per hold, but make sure that quality stays high throughout!
#2 – The Bear
The bear is typically the second-level in my reaching core progression is what I call “The Bear.”
I’m a huge fan of the bear. Not only does it increase the challenge because you’re on your hands, but in this exercises you can really feel the back side of your body open up as you hold.
Key points here include:
- Reaching long. Make the arms long throughout, and think about this every 5-10 seconds as fatigue sets in.
- Tucking the pelvis. The goal here is to really close off the front side of the body, so reaching with the arms while tucking the pelvis helps lock in the core.
- Constant reminders. As fatigue sets in, you’ll naturally lose one (or both) of the above positions. Again, remind yourself every 5-10 seconds to reach and tuck.
Like the plank you can start with 3 rounds of 30 seconds holds. However, I would only add 5 seconds per week, as this exercise builds in intensity very quickly!
#3 – The Knees Extended Bear
Last but not least we have the knees extended bear. This is absolutely one of my favorite core training exercises, but it’s hard to really dial in unless you’re systematic about your set-up.
If this is the case, follow in this step-by-step fashion:
- Set-up just like you would on a standard bear hold: Reach long, tuck the pelvis, come up on hands and toes.
- From this position, keep the hips up and straighten the knees. You can also drive the heels down, ala a push-up to downward dog. The hips should stay above the rest of the body!
- In the top position, focus on reaching and tucking throughout.
If you’re awesome enough to start here, again, 3×30 seconds is a great place to start. Add 5 seconds per week, and make sure that you’re actively reaching and tucking the whole time.
So there you have it, 3 of my favorite reaching core training exercises.
Now if I can say one final thing here, it’s this:
Don’t be in a rush to blast through these exercises.
Learn to do them right, feel the correct muscles, and get your moving and shaking better in the process.
But on the flip side, I also realize that for some of you, even these may be too easy.
And if not, they can get boring – after all, you’re not moving at all!
So next week, I’m going to bring in some of my favorite dynamic reaching exercises. These will not only integrate the stability and control, but add elements of movement into the equation as well.
Until then, give one of these exercises a shot next time you’re in the gym. I guarantee just tweaking your cuing and performance will make a big difference!
All the best,
P.S. – If you want more insight into how I program, coach and cue core training exercises, check out Complete Core Training. I’m biased, but I think it’s pretty legit!