Is Core Training Really Necessary? Part II


From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

Much of the sport specific core strength an athlete requires will be developed in the process of practicing the sport. Generally speaking, any sport specific work an athlete does is considered Specific Physical Preparation (SPP) . Any other work that prepares the athlete for SPP but is not sport or skill specific is General Physical Preparation (GPP).

Many of the movements beginning weightlifters learn as "skill transfer"exercises have a profound impact on the core musculature. These exercises not only address technique development, they condition the lifter's body to "fire up" the appropriate core musculature. It is a good idea for advanced weightlifters to return to these fundamental movements from time to time if for no other reason than to tune up their core strength. (This is where the definitions of classic GPP and SPP elide and become a little fuzzy: these movements are specific to sports skill development and also core strengthening. Whether a movement is one or the other depends on why the coach is assigning it.)

Runners get about 1000 reps of specific core work per mile. Many of my runners put in 100 mile weeks on a regular basis so their cores ( and legs) are worked. As my old kettlebell teacher Pavel Tsatsouline once said to me about strength training athletes,"It's called strength and conditioning not conditioning and conditioning." With that in mind, the relatively heavy strength lifts and the lighter, low rep power movements which produce strong, stable and durable cores for my weightlifters are a great choice for my runners too and avoids the "more is just more" trap.

Here are 12 basic weightlifting movements that challenge and strengthen the core. (If you don't know how to do these movements and want to, find a USAW coach to help you. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation!)

1) Power Cleans and Cleans + Front Squats

2) Jerk Drives

3) Overhead supports and Jerk Recoveries

4) Power Clean + Front Squat + Jerk

5) Snatch and Clean Pulls to knee height

6) RDL (and kettlebell single leg RDLS too!)

7) Snatch Grip Behind Neck Push Jerk + Overhead Squat

8) Overhead Squat

9) Overhead Stationary Alternating Lunges

10) Overhead Walking Lunges

11) Overhead Step Ups

12) Drop Snatches/Snatch Balance

For weightlifters, these movements are fundamental to the sport. For runners and other athletes they are supplemental. The thing to keep in mind is a well thought out strength program will not require much more supplemental core work apart from addressing individual and remedial requirements: rounding things out. One coach I know of quipped that if you start squatting with 100lbs and a year later you were squatting 300lbs, your core will have necessarily gotten much stronger than it was when you could only squat 100lbs. That's a useful observation. This is why I have all my athletes do weightlfting movements. It is not because I expect them to get as strong and explosive as my competitive weightlifters (although I want them to improve in those areas, obviously) but rather because I want them to have strong, stable and durable cores like my weightlifters. I think of it as bomb proofing.

Randy Hauer