Thursday 9 June 2016

Core Before, Not Abs After

I'll go ahead and assume that anyone reading knows (or at least has heard or read about me ranting) about the importance of core stability for a healthy back. With that in mind, let's quickly discuss one common gym habit.

The gym rats among you may be familiar with the trend of rocking out a few sets of ab work at the end of your workout, tacked on along with the other muscle group you trained that day. (No one ever solely just does a core day, do they?) Like I've mentioned before, if you're going for that six-pack, aesthetic look, then this can be a good idea. Save the painful, stomach-cramping exercises for last so you're not exhausting yourself for the heavy lifts too early. Makes sense, right?

However, from a core stability and spinal health standpoint, and even from a performance one for that matter, stop and rethink your routine. If we're doing core as part of our routine for these purposes, then why are we saving it for the end? These types of exercises have the purpose of making the body stronger by assisting with large movements, so it stands to reason that if we stick them at the front of our workout regiment, then we'll have strong lifts.

In that video, I demonstrate the importance of core activation when it comes to limb movement. When the core is inactive, it's relatively easy to overpower the individual's hip flexion. But when I have him brace his core by breathing into his diaphragm, his hip strength increase exponentially. This essentially demonstrates the power of the val salva maneuver, which has the function of maximizing core stability. When our core is stronger and more active, we capitalize on that effect.

With this logic, it should start to make sense why I recommend doing your core routine as a warm up. By activating these muscles early on, we're increasing the strength we have when we lift heavy and prolong our time before we exhaust and let our form fall apart. With stability exercises, you don't need to worry about pre-fatigue, since unlike traditional ab exercises, core stability does not train your muscles to exhaustion and breakdown. With that being said, I challenge you to try a few sets of deadbugs before you squat next time and feel for the difference. Sans the lifting belt.

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