Aphobos Blog No 4: CORE
This weeks blog is regarding your core, the middle section of your body many of us neglect during training and the area of the body that is required for most compound movement and strength governs your potential power (your ability to generate force into an external stimulus).
The first part of your core is what we all know as the ‘six pack’. Your transverse and rectus abdominals and your internal and external obliques. The reason you don’t see these is your body fat percentage, in men this is 10-12% and women 12-15%, if thats your goal- great, but thats not what were concerned with, that will come with time and training but we are concerned with our power that our core can create. Just by considering how your actively using your core during a movement (switch on your core!) can go along way to improving both your core strength and your technique. For specific core exercises, see below for some simple but effective examples.
Hips up! Squeeze your Butt!
How many times have your heard this. Secondly and maybe more uncommonly known is your hip core, an area of the body with a huge potential to generate force and stabilise movements.
Again this area is often neglected and we often experience common faults throughout training and in society in general. This is often due to a muted hip, a muted hip is a loss of of the natural de coupling (slight move back of hips and butt) of the hip to allow a natural movement, for example in a squat, when the hips don’t open we send weight into our knees and descend forward onto our toes rather than sitting straight down (top photo) with weight evenly distributed in our feet. This is largely due to lifestyle, sitting at a desk all day force our hips into an unnatural closed position, sitting like this too long will tighten the joint, in particular your hip flexors at the front of the hips (middle diagram).
Last but not least is the lower back region, a common area that people can experience tightness and pain, an area that can undergo regular stress and is very important for core and midline stabilisation, our goal here is to keep functioning and safe through regular stretching and strengthening the relationship between upper back into our glutes, hips and hamstrings (similar to the bridge analogy earlier).
At the very root of CrossFit is functional movement, a lot of the time you will here your coaches explaining the ‘core to extremity’ concept, which facilities our functionality and efficiency.
The core serves as a muscular corset that works as a unit to provide stability both with and without movement. All motions are generated from the core and translated to the extremities.
Core to extremity means that the bridge that connects your upper body to your lower body is tight and secure with no loose ends and no broken beams. The midline is the bridge that allows efficient and safe force transfer. Take Tower Bridge for example; when the two limbs are up no traffic can pass between them and no movement can occur across the two limbs, therefore no work is done. The same goes for your midline, if your abs are soft, your ribs up, your glutes turned off, and your back is rounded, it will be challenging to squat, press, deadlift, clean, jerk, or snatch heavy loads for lots of repetitions because force is constantly being leaked due to the breaks in your bridge.
Mobility and Strength Exercises
Here are some simple strengthening exercises, like everything in CrossFit there is no magic fix, spend the time reap the rewards;
Hollow Hold Hollow arch and hollow rocks + Plank (plus weighted)
Glute Bridge (Normal, single leg and weighted), wall squats + Hip hinging and Banded Hip hinging
Bird-dog (left), back extensions and scorpion stretch (right)
I here by challenge you to have a 3 min body weight plank hold (without breaking form! scale appropriately) after this you can work your way up the plates (must be supervised).