Not Your Usual Core Training


By Jerry Shreck, ATC/L, NCSF-CPT, Coordinator of Fitness Facilities/ Head Strength & Conditioning Coach,
Bucknell University

In sports as well as life, just about everything you do involves “rotational force,” i.e., twisting at the waist. Yet while we move this way so regularly, most training programs never address these movements. Sure, crunches and sit-ups strengthen the abdominals, but when was the last time you saw a lacrosse player performing a sit-up during a game? And admit it, you’re more likely to twist to pick up some paperwork, grab a tool, or set down a bag of groceries than you are to “sit up” during an average day.

So it just makes sense to add some rotational movements to your exercise plan. In fact, I train many athletes and teams each year. And it does not matter if it’s a cheerleader or a football player, I’ll always include weighted rotational movements in their training programs. These can be non-specific or sport specific movement patterns, but they will always change so the body will continually adapt to various angles. After all, life and sports also offer endless variety, and that’s what we’re keeping fit for!

Below are the typical exercises I recommend. All of these are useful “tools” for a fully integrated exercise plan. So give them a try. You’ll need to be determined and stay focused to isolate your “core” muscles (rather than getting an arm workout in just trying to complete the exercises). Yeah, you’ll feel your torso the next day. But your body will stay stronger and you’ll be more likely to stay injury free by adding two to three sets of 6 to 10 reps of these exercises:

Rotational Exercise #1: BT AB TWIST

BT AB Twist

Take a stretch band and attach it to something stable at about your chest level. (A pulley unit works well.) Then, stand on two Bosu Trainers with your knees slightly bent. (If you do not have Bosu Trainers, you can use any unstable object to stand on or even just stand on the floor.) Grasp the band with both hands and stabilize yourself while balancing on the Bosu Trainers. Rotate your body, focusing on your abdominal and low back muscles. Twist away from the band through a full range of motion. Finish with a tight contraction and return to the starting position.

The next time you try the exercise, move the band up or down, so you can attack different muscle fibers each time.

Rotational Exercise #2: AB BAND TAKEDOWN

Ab Band Takedown

Take a #3 or #4 Strong Stretch Band and loop it to something that is very stable located a few feet above your head (the top of a power rack works well). Loop the band around one end of an Olympic bar. Place the other end of the bar against a solid object. I use the corner of a wall. (Caution, the bar may dig into certain walls or flooring material.)

Now grasp the bar and stand with your knees bent so the bar is at a 60 degree angle. Contract your abdominal and low back muscles and rotate the bar down to the side. Allow your feet and torso to rotate naturally as you contract the muscles tightly. Return to the starting position and repeat or superset to the other side. 

Rotational Exercise #3: SB MB RUSSIAN TWIST

SB MB Russian Twist

Grab a stability ball and medicine ball. Sit and roll out on the stability ball until your shoulder blades are located on the ball. Raise your hips and tighten your “core” muscles. Hold a medicine ball above your chest with arms extended. Rotate to the right so your right posterior shoulder is the only part of you upper torso on the stability ball. Decelerate into that position (Finish Position) and then accelerate quickly to the “start position.”

Make sure all movement comes from the midsection, not the shoulders. Repeat or superset to the left for the desired number of reps or go for the BURN!

These three exercises take very little time, but the benefits will last a lifetime! Your entire core will be stronger, reducing any changes of lower back pain or weakness. And ready for whatever the game of life throws at you.