Simple steps to a tighter core

In a 45-minute training session, you should be hitting every foundational movement pattern: Squat, lungehinge, push, and pull.

And because we all want flatter abs, aim to hit at least two core exercises.

It’s important to remember that physical appearance is far from the only reason to do core exercises. In fact, it’s not even close to the most important for most of my clients. (What keeps you going?)

We want to train all the functions of the core … so we can protect ourselves from back pain and be able to do all the activities we love from a solid, stable base.

In order to keep us healthy and strong, our core must be able to perform the following functions:

Bracing: Think, someone is about to punch you in the stomach and you need to “tighten up” and by the way, don’t hold your breath!

Rotation: If you want to hit a golf ball, tennis ball or pickle ball better, this is an important one.

Anti-Rotation: A strong, healthy core should be able to resist rotational forces.

Anti-Extension: If you’ve ever seen someone arch their lower back when lifting weight overhead, they either have a weak core, insufficient thoracic extension, or both.

Anti-Lateral Flexion: Strong, stable hips = happy, pain-free lower back 🙂

What’s a simple way to cover all these movement patterns and train the multiple functions of our core in that amount of time we have?

There are a couple of ways,

First, you can combine a strength exercise with core exercises. Superset two exercises by going back and forth between a “big” lift and a core exercise.

For instance, in our group training program this month we supersetted a squat with a front plank and pulling exercise with a rotational med ball smash.

Another way to get those core exercises in is to combine the big lift with the core exercise into one exercise.

Here are some examples:

Reverse Lunge To Pressout: Holding a weight at your chest, perform a reverse lunge and when you return to the standing position, press the weight straight in front of your chest.

Squat-Pallof Press Combo: Anchor a resistance band to a rack or door, create perpendicular tension with the band against your chest. Perform a squat, and from the bottom position, press straight out and back without allowing the band to pull your upper body toward the anchor.

Pushup-to-Shoulder Tap: When performing a set of bodyweight pushups, add an alternating shoulder tap to each rep. You’ll want to make sure your feet are wider than your hands, so you can perform the shoulder taps without rotating through your hips.

These are just a few examples of how you can incorporate core work into exercises you’re already doing, so you can save time and get more bang for your buck in your training sessions.