Saturday, June 12, 2010

Core Training Progressions

So, I was reading through some of my older posts and realized that I speak quite often about my core training but actually do very little to let the readers know what this actually involves.  Like any other lift we do, there is a progression.  Most of my newbie clients cannot do an ab wheel rollout on day one - at least not correctly.  We must progress them into it.  The purpose of this post is to give a little insight how this progression works.

First, I'll give you a little background information.  The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the quadratus lumborum, the muscles of the abdominal wall (rectus abdominus and obliques), the back extensors, and multi joint muscles like the latissimus dorsi and the psoas.  You could also include the glutes in this group as well, since they are the main power producers and a synergist to the core muscles. 

The main function of these muscles is to cocontract.  Basically, they contract against one another to stiffen and support the lumbar spine.  I call this bracing.  This contrary to the popular belief that people must suck in the stomach to better support the spine (Not long ago, I believed this as well).  Sucking in actually decreases the stability of the lumbar spine! (Potvin, et al.) 

Now that we know the important functions of these muscles, we have to put together a program that trains them correctly.  The first thing I'm going to say is throw out crunches and sit ups.  Bringing the rib cage closer to the pelvis will only make back problems get worse.

Here at Nunn's Performace Training, we break our core training into three sections.  They are anti - flexion, anti - rotation, and anti - lateral flexion.  The progressions look like this:

Easy ---> Hard

Anti - Flexion
Quadruped Single Arm/Single Leg Raise ---> Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise ---> Prone Plank ---> Prone Plank + weight ---> Stability Ball Rollout ---> Ab Wheel Rollout ---> TRX Fallout

Anti - Rotation
Quadruped Single Arm/Single Leg Raise ---> Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise ---> Pallof Series (Half Kneeling/High Cable, Standing/Medium Cable, Standing/Low Cable)

Anti - Lateral Flexion
Quadruped Single Arm/Single Leg Raise ---> Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise ---> Side Plank ---> Side Plank + Weight ---> Pallof With Overhead Press

*We will probably be implementing suitcase deadlifts in the Anti - Lateral Flexion are in the near future.

Here's the video demonstration:


Potvin JR and Brown SHM.  An equation to calculate individual muscle contributions to joint stability.  J Biomech 38: 973 - 980, 2005

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