Tag Archives: core stability

Strengthen Your Glutes With Hip Raises

28 Apr

The hip raise is one of the best moves for strengthening your glutes.  This exercise is also a great choice for improving core strength and stability, as well as athletic performance.

Your glutes are important — but often overlooked — muscles, where movement and performance are concerned.  You use them for running, jumping, throwing, and kicking; so strengthening them can improve your game, regardless of the sport you play.

To perform this exercise, try the hip raise with your head and upper back on a Swiss ball.  Do three sets of 10 repetitions.

  • Put your head and upper back on a Swiss ball
  • Keep your knees bent, feet flat, and hips just above the floor
  • Push your hips up until they are parallel with the ground, and aligned with your knees and shoulders
  • Pause, and slowly lower your hips back to the starting position

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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The Importance of Core Stability in Athletes

24 Mar

If you read my blog regularly (and thank you if you do!), you know I’m a proponent of the development of – and importance of – core strength and stability.  Whether you’re an athlete or not, a strong, stable core facilitates everything you do, and every movement you make.

Over the years, I’ve published articles promoting the benefits or core training, including the rationale for core training; core strengthening exercises and workouts; and the implications of core strength, as it relates to virtually every sport movement – running, jumping, throwing, kicking, etc.  (to access more of my Core Strength & Stability articles, simply type the word “core” in the search box at the top of this blog page)

Here’s a nice resource from our friends at Bridge Athletic – authored by Megan Fischer-Colbrie – titled, The Importance of Core Stability in Athletes.  In her article, Megan discusses advantages of core stability for athletes; the role of core training in injury prevention and rehabilitation; and the advantage of building a strong foundation that starts with the core.  She also provides some useful core strengthening and stabilizing exercises.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Your Life with Core Training

20 Feb

side-plank-mel-1-crop1First of all, understand that when I refer to your core, I’m not only talking about your abs (although your abs are certainly part of your core).

Everybody thinks they want six-pack abs… I get it.  You may be one of those people who suffers through endless sets of planks and situps to achieve your dream of washboard abs.  Good luck with that.

Actually, your core musculature extends from your shoulders through your hips, and contributes to sports performance, balance, posture, strength and power, mobility, and longevity.

Here are some of the benefits of core training – and a strong core:

Be a Better Athlete

Core training can improve your performance in virtually any strength or speed sport.  A strong core allows you to transfer more power to your limbs, which translates to more powerful throwing, kicking, running, jumping, etc.

Better Balance

A strong core is important – whether you’re an athlete or not – because strong core muscles keep your torso in a more stable position whenever you move, whether you’re playing sports or just doing everyday activities.  Core strength helps you avoid injury by making your movements more efficient.

Alleviate Back Pain

Core training can both prevent and control lower-back pain, according to Canadian research.  For individuals with back pain, core exercises that emphasize isometric contraction (exercises that keep you still, like planks, side planks, etc.) are good choices.  At our facility – in addition to those types of exercises – we also favor rotational and anti-rotational exercises.

Better Posture

Stop slouching! Simply stated, core training can help you stand up straight by improving your postural stability.

Improve Your Agility

Research shows that core training – and improvements in core strength – translates to better performance on agility tests (acceleration, deceleration, change of direction) than traditional body-building moves.  At our facility, we focus on training movements – not muscles – for all of our customers, athletes and non-athletes.

Reduce Inflammation

Scientists have found that core training can reduce inflammation markers by as much as 25 percent – not far from the result you’d get from anti-inflammatory medications – including enhanced recovery, well-being, and general health.

Live Longer

Mayo Clinic researchers concluded that increased waist circumference is associated with an increased risk of premature death.  In a review of several studies, they found that men with waists of 43 inches or larger had a 52 percent greater risk of premature death than guys whose waists were 35 inches or smaller; and each 2-inch increase in waist size was associated with a 7 percent jump in death risk.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Work Your Core, Not Just Your Abs

25 Apr

theplankmain[1]When most people hear “core,” they think “abs.”  Actually, your core includes the muscles of your torso — shoulders through hips (deltoids, abdominals, gluteals, and lumbar spine).  These muscles initiate, generate, and resist movement (running, jumping, hitting, and throwing), strength, and power.  If you’re not strong through your core, it won’t matter how strong the muscles of your arms and legs are, because you just can’t compensate for a weak core.

Exercises that integrate your entire core elicit greater muscle activation than exercises that isolate the abs.  There are lots of exercises that target the muscles of the core, but not all core exercises elicit significant activation in a way that enhances functional gains and peak performance.

Benefits of exercises that active your core musculature include:

  • maximize strength
  • improve endurance
  • enhance stability
  • reduce injury
  • maintain mobility

Here are some core exercises that will help you maximize strength,improve muscular endurance, and reduce injury:

  • Plank (4-point, 3-point, 2-point)
  • Hanging Leg Raise
  • Medicine Ball Toe Touch
  • Swiss Ball Leg Raise

Rotational exercises, like the one’s listed below, help to strengthen the core through all 3 planes of motion:

  • Russian Twist
  • Lateral Medicine Ball Slams and Throws
  • Kettlebell Woodchopper and Corkscrew

Anti-Rotational exercises — those for which you move your arms and shoulders laterally but do not rotate your hips (for example, the Russian Twist – Bench Holding Stability Ball) — are still another way to effectively strengthen your core.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Strength, Stability with Unstable Loads

18 Nov

synrings6[1]The next time you perform the barbell squat exercise, try it with an unstable load — weights suspended from the bar by elastic bands or SYN Rings — instead of loading plates directly on the bar.

This exercise is more challenging than you think — you’ll want to cut your usual squat weight by about 50%, to start.

Squatting with an unstable load will increase activation of the stabilizing (core and lower body) musculature, and produce significant ground reaction force (GRF) — important for tasks such as sprinting and jumping.

You can perform other exercises with an unstable load, most notably the barbell bench press, which will engage the stabilizing muscles of your torso, in addition to your upper core.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Strength, Stability with Offset Training

9 Nov

IMG_3660[1]Offset training — loading one side of your body — makes lower-body exercises like the lunge and split squat more challenging.

When performing offset lunges, holding the weight in the hand opposite your working leg engages your glutes more; while holding it in the other hand emphasizes your quads.

Offset training can also be a useful upper-body training strategy.  For example, performing a dumbbell bench press while holding dumbbells of different weights in each hand.

At its simplest, offset loading is using a higher load on one side of the body. This can be accomplished by holding a heavier weight in one hand compared to the other, holding weight only on one side of the body, or loading a bar more on one side. The greater the difference in resistance from one side to the other, the greater the offset and the greater the demands on stability.

For example, if you’re doing farmer’s walks with an 80-pound load in one hand and a 60-pound load in the other, you’ll have a 20-pound offset, with a total load of 140 pounds. Now if you’re to use a 100-pound load in one hand and a 40-pound load in the other you’ll have a 60-pound offset, but still a total load of 140 pounds.

The greater offset will demand more core stability and strength to maintain a neutral spine while still using the same overall load. Being able to use the same load with a higher demand on core function is another benefit of offset loads, and another reason offset loading will help you break through strength plateaus.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Balance Training is for Everyone

30 Sep

airex_balance_beam_square[1]At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like balance training for all of our athletes.

Balance training improves neuromuscular communication and coordination; increases musculoskeletal strength and stability, especially around the joints; enhances strength and stability of connective tissue (ligaments and tendons); improves core strength and stability; and helps to reduce injury by “teaching” the body to adapt to instability.

And, although balance training is a valuable training strategy for athletes, everyone can benefit from balance training.

There are several tools — such as balance pads (pictured), discs, and BOSU balls — that allow for a variety of exercises performed with different degrees of instability.

Add balance training to your current training routine, allow for progression of difficulty over time, and improve your performance and overall physical functioning.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Strengthen Your Core and Legs to Throw Harder

31 Aug

It may seem counter-intuitive, but ball speed relies on lower-body power, according to an Ohio State study.

There’s nothing new about this information, and the rationale is pretty simple:  Pitchers who throw hardest put more force into the ground.

“A strong, stable core helps transfer energy through your hips and up your trunk to your arm,” says lead study author, Mike McNally, CSCS.

Lower-body exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, glute-ham raises, and Romanian Deadlifts are great for strengthening your hips and legs; while plyometric training can add explosive power.

A recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research article also supports medicine ball training — throws and slams — as another effective way to improve throwing velocity.

Since medicine ball throws and slams, performed properly, require considerable core and lower-body engagement and activation, these exercises are an ideal complement for athletes wanting to improve throwing velocity.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Core Strength and Stability is the Key

15 Jun

bosu-ball-exercise-ball-elevated-push-up_-_step_2.max.v1[1]If you’re an athlete training to improve your performance, developing a strong, stable core — shoulders through hips, and not just abs — should be a priority.

Since every athlete’s strength and power are generated from the core musculature, movement-based, multi-joint exercises — including rotational and anti-rotational exercises — are important components of a well-designed strength and conditioning plan.

Here’s an article from EXOS titled, Why a Strong Pillar is Critical for Soccer, that discussed and simplifies the benefits of a strong, stable core, including:

  • Balance and stability
  • More effective and efficient movement
  • More muscular endurance/less muscular fatigue
  • Injury risk reduction

Although the article addresses soccer, the principles apply to all athletes and sports.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Stand Up (more) and Exercise

23 Jan

sitting.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox[1]We sit too much.  We sit at work.  We sit when we drive.  We sit when we watch TV.  And, of course, we sit when we eat.

Don’t go to the gym and do more sitting.

Spend more time exercising at the gym on your feet (and don’t sit between sets, either).  You’ll burn more calories, increase core activation, and stay more focused and engaged in your workout.

Sure, there will always be a place for exercises like the bench press.  But you’ll find that you can perform virtually any exercise or movement — and work any muscle group — while standing, instead of sitting or lying down.

As an alternative to barbells and dumbbells, incorporate bands, kettlebells and medicine balls into your workout.  You can push, pull, lift, swing and throw them — and get a great workout in the process.

Push or pull a weighted sled.

Try suspension training (we like the TRX), and anti-rotational training, using equipment like the TRX Rip Trainer.

When you’re upright, the muscles that keep you balanced and stabilized work twice as hard, compared with sitting or lying down.  This strategy will also create a more efficient, effective workout… and produce results.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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