Using the term “core” in the fitness industry will get you shunned. In fact, I’ve heard stories of trainers who uttered the word, only to come into the gym the next day and find all of their bands cut to shreds. How dare anyone take something so sophisticated and generalize it down to one word.
I don’t mind the word “core” because it sounds much cooler to say core training, than “everything from the shoulders down” training. Whatever you want to call it, as coaches, we’re still trying to smash the 1000 crunch dogma that most people have accepted as the only way to get a “six-pack.”
To celebrate the release of my new core training program—Diesel Core—I wanted to address “when” you should integrate core training into your workouts. It isn’t only about getting it in, it is a matter of timing. And timing, as you will see, is very important.
1. INTEGRATE CORE TRAINING INTO THE WARM-UP
Breathing drills and isolative (isometric) core exercises should be performed during the warm-up to help prepare you or your athletes for the upcoming workout. These types of fundamental core exercises will help to build and understand stability while preparing you for the upcoming demands of the primary exercises in the workout.
2. INTEGRATE CORE TRAINING INTO THE WORKOUT
Performing compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, and standing presses, reinforces bracing and teaches the athlete how to resist forces from all directions. Torso stability is the key to remaining in a good position throughout a heavy lift. When we lose our position, we get injured.
3. INTEGRATE CORE TRAINING AFTER THE WORKOUT
Core-specific exercises should be done AFTER the workout as to not interfere with the main goal of the workout, i.e., get stronger. You don’t want to comprise any MAIN lift. For example, performing renegade rows before a heavy deadlift might not be the best idea. Save your primary core exercise(s) until after the workout.
4. INTEGRATE CORE TRAINING INTO EXTRA WORKOUTS
Performing core-only workouts with additional training sessions during the week will allow you to really focus on getting your core stronger and bring up any weaknesses you might have. You don’t want to rush through the exercises, which typically happens if you wait until the end of your workout to hit your core. Also, these “extra sessions” don’t have to be long; just 15-20 minutes will be enough to get through 2-3 exercises. Another hidden benefit is that performing extra sessions during the week will improve your overall work capacity, or base level of conditioning.
It doesn’t matter when you get your core work in; just get it in. Having a stronger core will affect everything you do. It will make you bulletproof and improve your durability (from injury), increase your strength and power potential, and help correct your posture.
BY JIM SMITH, CSCS