If you’re an athlete, you’ve got to have strong, powerful legs.
You’re ability to swing, throw, run, jump, sprint, tackle, cut, and juke is dependant on how powerful your lower body is.
But even if you’ve got the strongest “wheels” out of anyone on your team, you still won’t be the highest performing athlete if you’ve got a weak core.
You see, a strong core that can resist movement allows you to transfer all of that power from your legs to your upper body. And a majority of “athletic movements” require power to be transferred from lower to upper.
If you haven’t been involving the right core work into your training, it’s time to start. This is what you should focus on:
#1 – Anti-Flexion
This type of core work involves resisting spinal flexion, or rounding forward. The muscles that resist this movement are primarily the spinal erectors (also known as your lower back muscles).
Deadlifts of any kind (such as conventional, sumo, trap-bar, RDL, kettlebell, etc.) are your best bet for keeping the back strong and training anti-flexion for the core.
#2 – Anti-Extension
While flexion of the spine involves crunching or rounding, extension is simply the opposite: arching of the back.
The muscles responsible for resisting extension are the good ol’ abs.
While crunches and sit-ups are the “favorite” ab exercises, they involve a lot of motion in the spine. To re-inforce anti-extension, there should be no-movement.
Planks are a solid option, which can be made harder by being weighted. Ab wheel roll-outs are great, too.
#3 – Anti-Lateral-Flexion
Lateral flexion is side-to-side bending of the spine, which is resisted by the obliques.
Side planks, suitcase carries, and sideways sled drags all hammer the obliques and challenge the core’s ability to resist lateral flexion.
#4 – Anti-Rotation
Rotation is twisting of the spine. This is very important to address because a lot of powerful athletic movements involve pivoting and rotation.
If the spine rotates during a pitch, for example, there will be lost power. The spine should stay stiff while the legs pivot the body, for maximal power.
Rotational medicine ball slams, scoop tosses, shot put tosses, and Pallof presses are excellent in challenging the torso’s ability to resist rotation.
If your training is lacking the correct core exercises, your athleticism and performance will suffer.
It is crucial that athletes have an intelligently designed training program that addresses their specific needs and gets them to the next level.
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