"Core training" is one of the most overused and least understood terms in the sports world today. Although endless arrays of books and articles have been written on the topic, there is still no consensus on what exactly comprises the core or how to train it.
Part of the problem is the plethora of clinical jargon that aims to assist but actually further confuses. Instead of droning on about how the muscles within the lumbo-pelvic hip complex interact during athletic movement, we should regard the core as the body's "energy transfer hub," because that's exactly what it is. The strength and efficiency of this hub is directly responsible for the overall functionality of athletic movements. Thus, we must train movements, not muscles! [See Gray Cook's website for more information on this idea.]
The simplest thing an athlete can do to engage his or her core is to "behave athletically" during every exercise and drill. This is accomplished by bracing the abdominals, squeezing the glutes and resisting movement in a controlled manner.
Did you get that? Every exercise in the gym or on the field is a core exercise.
If your core—which we will define as an energy transfer hub between the lower and upper body—is not awake and firing at all times, you are at a competitive disadvantage, because you are not behaving athletically. If you are behaving like an athlete, you will be ready to field a line drive at a moment's notice, or catch a tight spiral on a slant pattern in double coverage. The body is prepared to react and engage—the crux of energy transfer.
During every exercise in the gym or on the practice field, ask yourself: "Am I behaving athletically?" The answer should be obvious in your stance and degree of readiness.
Check back soon for the next blog post in my core series.
Chris Doherty, a performance enhancement and certified strength and conditioning specialist, currently trains clients in Boston. Doherty interned as a strength coach for Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, where he honed his coaching abilities and trained top high school and collegiate athletes in numerous sports. His favorite sports are basketball, football and golf. When not training, he can be found booking a weekend getaway to Las Vegas.
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