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Core Training

Posted Thursday, September 04, 2008 by by: Ron McKeefery
The Strength Report: Core Training
When athletes are unable to perform football skills, one of the most common breakdowns is posture. Posture is primarily controlled by your core. It doesn’t take long walking onto a practice field to hear a position coach barking posture coaching cues. Everything from the stance to the transfer of power for a kicker is controlled by the core. A strong core is essential for optimal performance enhancement. Injury prevention is the other reason to train the core. The human body gets put into several awkward positions when it is tackled in a pile. By conditioning the athlete with exercises training the entire core musculature you help to prevent injuries that may occur.

The core is made up of the Rectus Abdominals, Transverse Abdominals, Internal/External Obliques and Erector Spinae. The movements of the core are required synergistically to play the game of football. Every play involves trunk flexion, stabilization, rotation, and extension. The Rectus Abdominals are responsible for trunk flexion and are what is trained most commonly when training the abdominals. Exercise such as sit-ups, crunches and toe touches all train the Rectus Abdominals. The Transverse Abdominals are responsible for trunk stabilization. This muscle lies beneath the Rectus Abdominals and maintains posture. Exercises such as leg lifts, leg lift holds and pillars train the Transverse Abdominals. The Internal/External Obliques are responsible for trunk rotation. Exercises such as side crunches, med ball rotational throws and side pillars train the Internal/External Obliques. The Erector Spinae is responsible for trunk extension. It is located on the lower back and is trained with exercises such as: hyperextensions, reverse hyperextensions and superman exercises.

We train the core in all four planes every workout. Our core training program is performed after the warm-up as a team. We find that performing it at that time is best for us logistically. Don’t get caught up too much in when it is performed, but rather that it is executed and performed correctly. I would caution that if you are going to conduct an extremely intense core workout followed by highly technical lifts, you should wait until the end of the workout to conduct your core training. We conduct the core training as a team to incorporate some team building concepts. We focus on accountability; every rep must be performed correctly and done in unison with the team. If someone is lagging behind or is too fast we start over. Leadership is developed when we allow the team leaders to choose the exercises and then lead the team through them. Camaraderie is fostered by changing the execution. Instead of counting we may call out ‘beat’ and the team executes the exercise and responds ‘our opponent.’ It creates a sense of pride in what we are doing rather than just performing abdominal exercises. We will perform 200 reps. If the exercise is very difficult we will assign a rep value to it. For timed exercises we count one second as a rep. For example, if we are doing 60 second pillars, that counts as 60 reps.

Training the core increases athletic performance and reduces the risk of injuries. It must be included into your program design. Here are ten core workouts you can incorporate into your workouts:

Bicycles x1 min
Jackknifes/pikes (2 second hold) x15
Side pillar x45 second
Jackknifes/pikes (2 sec hold) x15
Side pillar x45 second
Jackknifes/pikes (2 sec hold) x15
Front pillar x1 min

Routine 2 - (MedBall solo workout)
Reach ups x30
Side touches x60
Sit-ups x30
Alternating sit-ups x30e

Routine 3
Flutter kicks x80
Rollups x20
Supermans x20
Crunches w/1 leg in/1 leg out x25 each way
Supermans x20
Rollups x20
Supermans x20

Routine 4
Alternating jackknifes/pikes x20e
Reach ups x50
Bicycles x40
Crunch holds (5 sec each rep) 3x15
Alternating supermans 3x15e

Routine 5 (MedBall Partner Workout) x2
Seated side throws x30e
Overhead sit-up throw x30
Back extensions - hold light MB overhead x15

Routine 6
Crunches x25
Bicycles x50
Oblique crunches x25e
10 sec negative crunches x15
10 sec negative oblique crunches x15e
Reverse hypers 2x25

Routine 7 (Theraball Workout)
Sit ups 2x50
Side sit ups 2x25e
Reverse crunches x20

Routine 8 (Theraball Workout) x2
Crunches x30
Diagonal Chops x15e
Reverse Hypers x15
Reach Ups x30
Reverse Hypers x15

Routine 9
Partner MB Side Throws x20e
Theraball MB Throws (one arm catches) x30 each
Super Slow Crunches x10 (30 sec each)

Routine 10 (Lower Abs) x3
Hanging Knee Ups x30
Quadrapeds x15e
Hanging Twist Knee Ups x15e

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