Table of Contents
There's a direct link between core strength and general strength. How strong do you think the core is of a guy who can squat a thousand pounds? Given that's his core is between the bar, where the weight is, and his legs, where the force is, I'd say it's a safe bet that the answer is: quite strong. And that points the way to a commonly used argument: if I'm training heavy anyway do I need dedicated core work?
Some people get by fine without it, but it's often a good way to get correctives in at the same time, working on straightening yourself up and improving athleticism. And training your core will enable you to make steps forward on your big lifts.
Your core needs to be able to both produce and resist force, and in more than one plane or direction.
We'll start with static resistance:
The easiest way to improve core strength in static resistance is through the use of simple planks. You're statically resisting - staying in the same place against - the tendency of your body to fold in the middle. A basic front elbow plank for about 40 seconds is a good place to start.
Once you have that, advance to more difficult moves. You can try unilateral planks or side planks to increase the amount of force you're learning to resist.
To do unilateral planks, simply take a limb off the floor and hold it in a comfortable position.
For side planks, start on your elbow, and make sure your shoulder is in a stable position.
Too often, people forget that there's a back to your core as well as a front and sides. Try bridges to build a stronger back. Put your feet and hands on the floor and press your body of the ground. Allow your upper back to bend but keep your neck as neutral as you can, and keep some tension in your glutes.
You might find that, for static resistance, static inverse rows suit you better. If a plank is a static push-up, a static inverse row is the same movement pattern with the load on the other side. Set up in an inverse row position and hang for time, making sure you stay tight throughout. Shoot for 40 seconds.
Try arm-to-arm planks, and arm-to-arm row planks for this.
Arm to arm planks simply mean you'll do a plank as normal and move the weight from arm to arm. Put your weight on one arm, and take the other one off the ground. It's not the posture at the end of the movement that you're interested in, but moving through the motion in a stable manner. Keep an eye on your hips. They'll want to roll around from side to side: if you let them the movement will be much easier and you can kid yourself that you're doing it right, but the reality is that you're not really going to make much progress. Move back to a movement you can do with stable hips and shoulders and build on that stability.
Arm-to-arm row planks simply means doing the same thing but as a row instead of a push-up plank. Use a bar for preference; rings are usually too unstable.