| August 13, 2021

How to Train Your Core When Strength Training

There is a lot of controversy around training the “core”. In my belief, this strongly ties into and stems from the misunderstanding of what the core actually is.

By Steven Fitzpatrick

Read time: 4 min.

There is a lot of controversy around training the “core”/how to train your core In my belief, this strongly ties into and stems from the misunderstanding of what the core actually is. Many people think that the core is just six pack abs. While there are not very many people around who don’t appreciate the look of a lean midsection, in order to truly attain that look and make it symmetrical, the right areas of the core must be trained.

I treat my core in the highest regard possible for its tie to strength training. It is where all of our power comes from. For powerlifters, if you do not have proper stability and strength in your core, then there is not a single doubt that your true potential is being limited.

Understanding the core is divided into many more sections than just the rectus abdominis (six pack), is the first step to understanding why you must train other areas and how the transverse abdominis has such a high correlation to effectively maintaining torso position and utilizing the bodies synergistic potential to its highest degree.

how to train your core, When really broken down, the core needs to be looked at, and trained through each biomechanical plane, as those planes are going to be where the body is moving through when performing main compound movements: frontal, sagittal and transverse as shown below.

Exercises that should be performed, are efficient, and when done consistently go a very long way include:


Planks are my absolute favorite exercise. Planks help to force the body to undergo isometric stress, and keep the torso in a desired position. When any form of resistance is replied, balance can be better controlled, and not only that, but having a stronger static brace can reduce the chance of injury. This exercise, when performed correctly, can also project a better physical appearance of the abdominal region.

Side planks should also be performed alongside the normal plank, which is done in a prone position. Personally, I find it more effective to have an elevation underneath my legs so that there is a higher degree of resistance through gravity. Train the obliques and surrounding muscles so that you may have optimal transverse balance—especially in the sumo deadlift and the squat.

Bird Dog and Dead Bug

The bird dog and the dead bug are exercises that every person in the gym or outside of it should be doing (that is if their current physical capabilities allow for it, if not it should be worked up to). They teach the body how to use the posterior chain and anterior chain mainly through the sagittal plane of motion. While moving the extremities and putting them through elongated positions, it will show us how to remain braced when we go through any obstacle.

Rollout Wheel

The rollout wheel is great to use as well. There are a lot of mechanics involved in this exercise that can be linked to several different methods of training, making it suitable for those who can perform it. The body will go through shoulder flexion and extension, which will complement the bench press, and the spine must stay in a flexed position while the quad and hip flexor are lengthened; this is not only good for mobility but again, also good for stability.

Breathing and core have a huge tie, in fact most athletes hardly fill their stomachs and mostly their lungs while they take a breath. To create intra-abdominal pressure, as we know, the higher degree of dispersed pressure we create, the “tighter” we get, the tighter we get, the more synergistic the body becomes as a whole unit. This leads to more weight being moved and also reinforces injury prevention.

An easy application to follow would be 4-second breathing. When doing so, lie on your back, inhale mostly through your nose, and do your best to fill your lungs and not your stomach with air, over time and patience you will begin to feel you lungs fill with air, you have now enabled your lungs to fill to a higher degree, thus enabling a more equally dispersed amount of pressure and more air overall, I have personally noticed that my squat has become more efficient in regards to torso position overall since applying this method, to perform this action, you inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds, and wait at full release for 4 seconds, very simple. Pop a clock on for 5 minutes and you are set. There's not a single person on this planet that does not have 5 minutes. Doing it before bed is my desired time as it helps to relax my nervous system, and actually sometimes, acts as a sedative.

To follow the breathing, you can try to perform “false inhales” or stomach vacuums, when performed correctly, the individual should aim for fifteen to optimally twenty seconds. Repeat five times.

Not only do these exercises help with intra-abdominal pressure, but they also help with avoiding coning in the front midsection, this can lead to hernias or female complications on the pelvic floor. A sure way to end an athlete’s career can be easily avoided by taking six minutes a day to perform, not too much to ask from anyone.

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