Do your workouts build your core? Do they make your spine stronger, and more resilient? I believe one of the most valuable components of your workout, can be the value to your core. The reality is that anybody working out, is doing something positive for their core, but what you do can mean a world of difference.
The question “does it increase my core strength”, is one that can be answered by “does it tax your core?
This picture is my dead-lifting (simple lift where you pull the weight from the floor until you are standing straight. There is a ton of core competency required to maintain your spine at a stable place while pulling a heavy load. In this pic I was working up to a max load. 495# Which is the most I have ever lifted.
I am pretty happy as a 43 year old to be able to lift 2.5 times my bodyweight. But I am equally as happy to be able to run a 6 minute mile, and knock out 50 pull-ups without stop (kipping, not as impressive as what you pictured).
My point in sharing the celebration with you, is to help you get the importance of seriously training your core. I say this, because when I started CrossFitting, I had never really put my core to the test like I do now. I could squat 400#, but not to a depth that mattered. And when I finally had full understanding of it all, I realized that my core stability was lost at a certain depth. I no longer could maintain myself in a strong position, thus my back collapsed forward, putting undue stress on my spine, and I was forced to stop 5-6″ before I got to a parallel position with my thigh.
Last week, two days before I lifted the dead-lift in the picture, I was able to squat 405# with my hips about 4″ below the point of parallel. This is because my core was stable in the “hole”, at a point of great stress.
How do you get your core strong?
Many people look to pilates and yoga for core strength. And to that I would say, good job, great start, you will definitely gain core strength while developing the very important flexibility that I so sadly lack. But I will also say, not enough. Just like my training isn’t enough to give me the flexibility I need (which is why I dabble in yoga, I just need to get more committed), your training should give you more core stability.
Now, if we are comparing to the general population, we are both way ahead in both assets (flexibility and strength). But my goal is not to compare to the very sad average of this country, but to the potential that we have. I think the greater question should be…
Why do I need a strong core?
I know that this kind of seems like a silly question, yet many don’t have a “real” answer. You just accept it because you have heard it.
It’s important to have a strong core.
Yet when you ask most people about their core, they will immediately consider their ab muscles. Which are important, but not the core. So the core refers to the center, just like an apple core, the part that surrounds your spine. This is so ridiculously important because its your spine people! Come on! So why have a strong core? Because it will protect you from an endless list of bad things. From simple back pain, to spinal stenosis, to paralysis and early death.
So back to HOW DO I GET IT STRONG?
I prefer a mix of gymnastic movements, which I commonly prescribe because they are easy to explain and develop:
- plank or planche holds
- sit-ups and more difficult variants (GHD bench sit-ups)
- L sits or holds (look like h holds with most people)
- Lever development training (look that up, just more of the above and more intense)
- Squats with load
These basic movements (and you get the plank hold from standard push-ups as well), will get your core nice and strong. Just be careful not to hurt yourself along the way. You know you are susceptible… and it is your spine.
Be well and Be blessed! - Dr. E