27 Random Thoughts on Core Training


With the launch of my Complete Core Training product this week, I’m obviously thinking a lot about core training.

And when you factor in that my “Random” articles (i.e., speed and agility, training, athletic development, etc.) are some of my most popular, it only made sense to write one up about the core.

As such, here’s a bunch of random thoughts about core training. Enjoy!

  1. Please stop with all the “drawing in” nonsense. It’s not (and never has been) an issue of TVA strength. All of the literature points to it being a timing issue (which you also see in the diaphragm, pelvic floor, etc.).
  2. Same goes for cues like “big arch” or “arch hard.” If you care about your spine (or that of your clients and athletes), you’ll find a more optimal posture to stabilize from.
  3. When exhaling, we love to talk about “ribs down” in the front. However, an even better way to do this is to think about driving the ribs down and in.
  4. Chopping and lifting may not look cool, but it’s a great way to develop stability in more advanced postures. Just make sure to focus on stability, control, and owning the movement, versus using Herculean amounts of weight.
  5. One of the best ways to increase the loading of core training exercises is to manipulate the levers involved. Longer levers = increased load and torque, which requires more strength and stability.
  6. A way to sexify your half-kneeling and split-stance work is to add in alternating function. Lock in the core and hips below, while driving rotation through the thorax up top (thanks to PRI and my guy Bill Hartman for this one!)
  7. While we’re on the topic of PRI influence, just check out how much real estate the internal obliques and transverse abdominus on the pelvis. I’d say they’re kind of important if we want to control our pelvis, lower back and hips!
  8. If you need proof of #7, do 5-10 sets of 2-KB front squats and tell me how your abs feel the next morning.
  9. I know people love to talk about “belly breathing,” but try this: Take in a big belly breath and feel what happens to your lower back and pelvis. What kind of position does that drive?
  10. Hip flexor stretching – do you even need it bro?
  11. Don’t be scared of integrating the hip flexors into your core training. Exercises like mountain climbers and jackknifes are fantastic for teaching hip flexion on top of a stable core. Plus, you sort of need them if your goal is to run fast.
  12. Like anything else, before you start challenging the frontal and transverse plane, make sure you own your sagittal plane first.
  13. I have a thought regarding sports hernias: This is a very extended athlete, typically in multiple planes. The rectus abdominus and adductors are simply doing everything in their power to hold things together (and probably losing).
  14. I’m still a fan of ground-based core training, and it has a ton of benefits to it.
  15. However, I don’t use it with the exclusivity that I did in the past. If you want more of my core training mistakes, take a few minutes to read this (when you’re done, of course).
  16. Simply cuing an athlete to “exhale fully” prior to initiating a core exercise is worth the price of admission for this whole post.
  17. When performing exercises like planks or push-ups, think about reaching or driving long through the outside of the hand. This will help you “reach” from the right areas.
  18. Real-world core training (to me) involves big bang dumbbell exercises like rows, bench presses, and military presses in an offset or unilateral fashion.
  19. If you have are training a very extended athlete, tall-kneeling should be your best friend.
  20. Learning how to R-E-A-C-H can make a huge impact on the neutrality of the spine, both during an exercise and over time.
  21. Along those same lines, I love cuing clients and athletes to think “long” through the arms, legs, spine, etc. It’s a totally different sensation than worrying about their range of motion.
  22. If you can’t control the core. If you can’t control the core, you can’t load a hip. And if you can’t load a hip, well….lots of bad stuff tends to happen.
  23. If you think core stability doesn’t impact your mobility, try this simple test. Lie on your back, inhale, and arch your lower back as hard as you can. Now try to internally rotate your hip or shoulder, and note both the range and quality of the movement.
  24. Now, exhale as fully as you can and check IR again. Yes, I’m just that good….
  25. One aspect of core training that I’ve grown to love (and hate) is quadruped. I think it tends to get skipped over a lot, but there’s a lot of practical value in that position (specifically, teaching clients/athletes to reach in a more advanced posture).
  26. Good looking abs are made in the kitchen. Talk to smart guys like Mike Roussell, John Berardi or Chris Mohr if you need help there.
  27. Last but not least (and for the love of all that is holy), please stop stretching your hamstrings. They are “tight” for a reason, and you’re only making things worse!

So there you have it – 27 random thoughts on core training. I hope that one (or a handful) help take your training to the next level.

And of course, this week only you can get my Complete Core Training product for ONLY $97. As of next week the price will jump $50, so if you’re interested, please pick up your copy today!

All the best


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