Your power and strength in every movement is originated from your core, but how often are you targeting this area? Chances are if you are in the majority, you are spending very little time developing your core muscles. If all power comes from your core, being strong from it is crucial to increasing your maximum lifts and enhancing your bodies ability to grow lean muscle tissue. With a few simple changes, you will begin to develop a powerful core for stronger performance, more lean muscle mass, and minimize your risk of injury.
Lose the Weight Belt
For years I was the "weight belt guy". It limited my ability to reach my full strength potential in bench,squat, and the deadlift. When you wrap a belt around your waist you are preventing strength development of your core, taking your body outside of its natural pattern of movement(which can create muscle imbalances) and putting more effort into breaking in your weight belt, instead of strengthening your bodies foundation.
With all power generated from the core, it does not make sense to have it disengaged as often as most do with the use of a weight belt. Leave the belt in the bag. Within 6-8 weeks you will be stronger in compound movements, more effective in your execution of exercise, and less prone to injury. Keep in mind weak core muscles are a known risk factor for lower back pain. Your belt is not preventing lower back pain, it is potentially creating it!
Quality of Core Exercise Over Quantity
Core training requires a different approach then other muscle groups, due to the presence of noncontractile muscle tissue.
The first phase as you begin to develop your core is to have a focus on building stability. Utilize the plank, side plank or other stabilizing movements to challenge these unique muscle structures. Stability should be your primary focus for the first 2-4 weeks of direct core training.
From there build up the strength of your core with ball crunches, leg raises, cable rotations and back extensions. QUALITY of repetitions is more important then QUANTITY during this stage.
After developing a strong stability and strength foundation, you can begin working on generating power from your core. This is where you will begin to see a significant increase in your compound lifts due to the development of a powerful core, now initiating movement. Use medicine ball pullover throws, rotational chest passes and overhead throws during this phase.
We call them compound movements because they require the recruitment of multiple muscle groups to maximize the loads we are able to lift. With movement originating through the core, it is crucial you generate as much power from it to assist in lifting maximum loads safely and effectively.
Keep your core engaged during all strength exercises to limit the additional time needed on core specific exercises. Start with 30 total minutes of direct core work per week, split into three 10 minutes sessions at the end of workouts. Always perform exercises that have you in a standing position instead of sitting, and focus on keeping your trunk engaged throughout every exercise.
These easy to implement techniques will give you the ability to begin lifting heavier loads, establishing more effective movement patterns, and will limit your risk of injury.
Article by: Connor Cummings
Divided Labs Founder & CEO
Nationally Accredited Fitness Coach
NASM Certified CPT, PES, FNS