When it comes to core exercises, too much focus is often placed on the crushing the anterior abs to exhaustion and not enough on the low back, hip/pelvic and diaphragm muscles working in harmony, which are essential for strength and stability. Here are 3 core progressions to add to your next workout:
Kettlebell side plank: Improving lateral chain strength is key when training general population adults & athletes. The kettlebell side plank is great exercise to progress the exercise and make it more challenging by introducing a long lever stimulus. This variation trains scapular stability & packing the shoulder while hitting core endurance, pelvic & hip stability hard.
Coaching cue: It’s really important to maintain a neutral alignment of the spine and prevent any forward/backward rotation of the hips or torso. Often I find clients shift their hips too far back, which will mean their QL is doing way more than their obliques and glute medius.
-Decrease time under tension to maintain form and the correct alignment
-Adjust leg position. Either stack the top foot in front or the other, or drop knees to 90 degrees.
-Add more weight to the kettlebell
-Increase duration of side plank
-Try a bottoms up kettlebell variation
Kneeling Landmine rotation: It is important to train the core in the manner it is designed for. This particular exercises his both anti-extension and rotary stability. The goal is to keep your hips/pelvis as stationary as possible (much easier to do in a tall kneeling position). All rotation is primarily coming from upper back & not through lumbar spine. When done correctly this exercise will blast your external obliques.
Coaching tips: Dig toes into ground for more dorsiflexion & squeeze your glutes to maintain stability in your lower body. Emphasis should be place on maintaining a long lever with your arms – don’t add an elbow bend!
-Adjust to a standing position. This will take away a little more hip/pelvic stability and encourage you to work harder to maintain.
Reverse crunch: Traditional crunches are a huge no no for me. They often put unnecessary pressure on the spine & encourage the untrained client to overuse their hip flexors. When training more dynamic core movements, you goal is to minimize any unwanted compensation patterns, specifically throughout the spine and pelvic area. When performing the reverse crunch, squeeze a foam roller between your calves & hamstrings to help activate key stabilisers around the pelvis & help avoid compensating with a leg swing.
Coaching cues: Hands behind your head and an active grip will gain stability and control of your upper back and shoulders. A forceful contraction of your abs to pull you off the floor & a focus on a slow controlled eccentric to avoid hyper extension in lumbar spine. This is a great exercise for a client/athlete who lives in extension (note: not all spinal flexion is bad!).