Introduction: Fitness trends come and go – however, when it comes to the Core Training concept, the fitness community and my strength training peers continue to recycle the idea. Not only do they utilize the basic core exercises, they strive to create new exercises and modify existing ones. To their credit, some of the exercises are creative and innovative for this type of training, but – is this all really necessary? Whether it’s in an exercise 101 class or seeing highlights of a strength coach training an NFL running back (LaDanian Tomlinson), they all seem to be ‘doing it’.
What is Core Training (C.T.)?
C.T. stems from the idea of not having sufficient strength in the abdominal area or the low back region. This insufficiency can be validated if a trained professional would simply perform the correct muscular/flexibility test for the abdominal/lower back. Once it’s determined the individual lacks strength/stability for this area of the body, it would only take a few weeks for most to make the necessary improvements to correct the problem. Then the client/athlete could simply move on to on other areas of training that that would provide specific benefit to them.
Where did this idea come from?
The C.T. concept originated when physical therapists or others in the medical community identified that under-developed or weak abdominal muscles contributed to lower back pain or discomfort. Hence C.T. was born like a bad rap song! Don’t get me wrong – determining that weak abdominals affect lower back stability and strength is a great discovery. However, to tout it as the ‘Great Discovery’ for fitness training and a key for top athletes is serious overkill. To a professional trainer, this is like a math teacher spending too much class time on addition when the students really need to advance to multiplication.
How to fix Core Training:
- Learn that C.T. is simply only one idea that can be incorporated into one’s fitness training program, as needed! Rather than thinking that C.T. is a comprehensive fitness program, one should quickly progress from C.T. to more advanced training.
- C.T. training generally applies to individuals who are out of shape, may complain of lower back pain, have bad posture, and in some cases have extended or protruding abdominals.
- C.T. can also be accomplished or maintained through advanced exercises called multi-joint exercises (sometimes referred to as core exercises) that will strengthen core muscles in the abdominal/lower back area. A good example is the back squat.
More specific exercises would be various forms of back extension/s and specific abdominal exercises using a physio ball.
“Trenders” in the fitness industry tend to gravitate to the hot training idea, rather than looking at the big picture of an exercise program. They are always looking for new buzz words or concepts to jump start their training programs or to give themselves more credibility. This is why the C.T. concept is overrated! Just because a client has discomfort in the lower back or in their abdominals doesn’t mean that core training is the only remedy. Flexibility may be another factor in why they have bad posture or discomfort in their lower back.
Core Training has value and it should not be overlooked. The problem is when fitness/strength professionals continue to push more core-related exercises to advance their client/athlete progress and development. Instead, they should look to deliver move advanced exercises, along with the proper programs to meet fitness goals or their athlete’s performance capability.