Core Training Principles Part 1 — Techniques to Develop True Core Strength

Over the years I saw many of my teammates (high school, college, pro) perform high-rep ground base abdominal circuits (crunch variations, sit-ups, leg lifts etc.) in hopes of developing a strong, stable, and more powerful core. Yes, they were getting a burning sensation in their midsection but does that “burn” translate to developing true core strength?

What is the role of the core?

The number one role of the core musculature is to protect and stabilize the spine while the extremities are moving. Knowing that, flexing and extending with the latest crunch variation is not the answer if your goal is to develop true core strength.

How do you develop true core strength?

To reap the benefits of any specific core training exercise (I will list all of them in part two next week) there’s two foundational principles you must be executing properly. Those principles are breathing, and bracing.

Breathing

When you breathe diaphragmatically (deep in your stomach) you’re strengthening and engaging all the muscles of the inner core. To breathe diaphragmatically, you should be taking a big inhale through your nose and expanding your diaphragm three-dimensionally, filling up your stomach and low back with air. Your stomach should rise before your chest. Breathing properly, lays the foundation for everything we do both in and out of the weight room.

Bracing

Proper bracing involves tensing your midsection to make it extremely rigid. For example, if you’re standing in front of me and I try to go and punch you in the stomach you’re going to tense up and almost “squeeze” your abs. When you’re squeezing your abs in this scenario you’re bracing. Bracing is so important because it’s involved in pretty much every exercise we do. However, some exercises require a more intense brace than others. If I’m doing a 500 pound squat, it’s obviously going to require much more tension than a plank. This is why squatting and deadlifting are tremendous exercises to develop TRUE core strength!

I hope this post was able to help you guys! If you have any questions drop them below!

-Alex

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