The core’s (your body’s mid section) main functions are to stabilize the trunk of the body and to help transfer force from the lower to the upper body. Training the core for these proper functions are different than training to have six pack abs. When training for the aesthetics (look) of your abs it is more about spinal flexion (think of a sit up or leg raise). When training the core, you can think of either transferring force such as in a medicine ball throw or resisting motion as in a farmer’s carry or a paloff press (as shown by Dr. John Rusin here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ_HhXY3-p0 ). In my programming I tend to include more of the resisting motion type of exercises as I believe they are far more beneficial (more bang for you buck’!).
In training your body to resist the loads placed upon it and having a rigid trunk training your core to work as a team instead of individually can help prevent back pain as well as help you get stronger in your main lifts. There are many ways to train these “anti-movements”. Examples include anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-literal flexion movements.
There are numerous ways to train the core and this is just a drop in the bucket for ideas. Use your imagination and you can come up with laundry list of ideas. Adding some of these variations will go a long way in terms of strength gains and resiliency to injury.
AUTHOR: JAMES RAYFIELD, BS, CSCS