Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Do You Need Direct Core Training?

Expert marketers have long known that two things sell better than most anything else: sex and absolutisms. Unfortunately, dear reader, this blog post isn't either of those. As polarizing and juicy as it would be to write about how you should "NEVER do crunches again" or "the one core exercise EVERYONE should be doing," none of that stuff is true.

The only way to answer the question of whether YOU need direct core training is to identify who "you" are.

Before we do that, though, let's get on the same page about what I mean by the core and direct core training:
  • The core: the anatomical region comprised of the torso, pelvis, and hips, including the abs, obliques, spinal erectors, glutes, hip flexors, hip adductors, transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, etc. As the link between the lower and upper extremities, the role of the core is to transfer, generate, and absorb force between the upper and lower body.

  • Direct core training: any exercise for which the primary purpose is to train the core muscles to improve their size, strength, endurance, or control. Direct core training can come in many forms, from positional breathing to static exercises to dynamic ones, either where the limbs are moving around a stable trunk or the trunk itself is moving. (I'll give a few specific examples of each shortly.)

Now back to the who-are-you question. To aid introspection, here's a smattering of things you should ask yourself to guide your direct core training decision:
  • Are you a competitive athlete? A weekend warrior? A couch potato?
  • Do you want to lose weight? Get stronger? Reduce your risk of injury? Get on stage for a bodybuilding show?
  • Do you already have a strong midsection, or is it your weak link?
  • What types of exercises are you already doing, if any?
  • Do you enjoy direct core training?

In relation to those questions, let's consider some conditions under which you could benefit from direct core training: