Let's Get to the "C.O.R.E." of the Matter!
We all train our "core", at least we should. Many will see exercises online given to them by a friend, coach, magazine, or do something they've done for a long time to work their "core". Many exercises thought of are prolonged stationary planks, sit-ups, ab touches, bridges, fallouts, birddogs, reverse hypers, v-ups, v-sits, and chops. It's time for you to ask why? Some are fine to do but are they the best for you?
First off, what is the "core"...depending what you read and research, you will see many different explanations. Some keep it simple and say abs/back, some deep/superficial, some local/global, and others will go into specific muscles. There are the group of four including transverse abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor which are referenced in many studies and others who also include the obliques, serratus muscles, and rectus abdominus. I personally like to think of the "core" as the muscles from shoulders to the hips including the breath. Keep things simple and being aware of the breathing during the movement.
In 2003 I was given an opportunity to speak at the Empire State Games Sports Medicine Symposium and I had this concept I was working on a few years prior. I thought to myself, "what is core?". There were studies out showing the transverse abdominus being the first muscle to initiate or that should initiate movement. It was all well and good but trying to move any muscle on it's own, there will be stabilizers that turn on. It is a crossroads of the body and sport is controlled chaos. Looking into it more I felt it was more of a neuromuscular pathway, a firing of the muscle through a more efficient way. It was then I thought of "core" as an acronym.
You can't think of one muscle without the other and shouldn't think of trying to hit one muscle but having a focus of movement. The "core" is a transmitter and generator. When the foot hits the ground, forces are transmitted through the body generating a force up and down the chain. If there is some sort of weakness or kink in the chain then we will be less efficient and possible injury can occur anywhere in the body. When we do "core", try not to simply think of floor exercises but think of movement as a whole. Vern Gambetta used to say "train the movement, not the muscle" and I carry that with me still today. When I run technical trails, I know my "core" will automatically turn on to stabilize so I can mobilize. While doing lunge and squatting movements, I know I will get more adaptation of my "core" simply by adding overhead movements or some sort of push/pull action.
How to train C.O.R.E....
Training should focus on an integrated multiplanar movement that requires acceleration, deceleration, and stabilization in all planes of movement. Think of being able to control movement forward/backward, side to side, up/down, and rotary at different speeds. 87.5% of muscles are non vertical and working multiple planes is vital to transform the athlete into a better, more efficient athlete. Utilize both floor(belly up and belly down) and standing movements while integrating C.O.R.E. When training C.O.R.E., mix in more slow controlled movement along with the powerful explosive movement. Research shows there tends to be larger injury risk occurring during deceleration movement(landing from a jump, follow through on a throw) showing the importance of training the whole range. You can think of movements where there is a load and unload pattern, like a beardog(below), a rotary plank(below), and med ball throws at a wall. These are just a couple pics of many exercises I will be sharing along the line through videos and training/injury packages...