Workout of the Day

Core Training and White Lies


Let’s just start with this: there’s a 99% chance you’ve been lied to about core training.

It’s a buzzword, and it’s also largely misunderstood by trainers, athletes, and the general public, and what this all equates to is much ado about we’re not so sure what. I’m not suggesting malice, but I’m not saying it’s excusable, either.

Let’s step backwards for a moment.

Set foot in any currently popular circuit-training, bootcamp, or HIIT class today, and a part of your daily training will likely be dedicated to the “core.” The trainers will emphasize how important core strength is (they’re not wrong), and you’ll do a series of high repetition exercises like sit-ups, crunches on an exercise ball, twists with a plate or medicine ball, and holds. By the end of it, your abs will burn a lot, and so you’ll have the feeling that your core must have gotten stronger. Right?

On the flipside, someone accustomed to the “core training” they’ve encountered at the likes of an Orangetheory, Bodypump, or other popular HIIT class may come to us and remark about how little core training we seem to do. Few sit-ups, no bouncy exercise ball, and you don’t feel the burn in your abs every day. We must not care about the core. Right?

The premise for the importance of core training is that it is integral in so many movements in the gym and life (deadlifts, running, throwing, breathing, hanging, picking up your children, sitting, standing, etc.). It’s a fairly easy next step to understand, then, that the core is highly stressed in these very same movements. You need a strong core to deadlift a heavy weight, and you’re also going to develop a strong core if you train yourself to properly deadlift a heavy weight. There’s really no way around it.

We may not label overhead squats, yoke carries, push-ups, or single-leg RDLs as “core training” or mention anything about blasting your abs with these exercises, but that doesn’t mean you’re not developing a strong core.

This all comes back to the fact that the average trainer or athlete’s (mis)understanding of core training is based on two things: feel and look. Common core training focuses on chasing the burn (generally, in your abs, a small portion of the core) and on getting a six-pack (evidenced by the common false notion that having visible abs means you must have a strong core).

These premises, unfortunately, can only lead to core strength by accident.

Some days, we will do exercises that will make your abs burn. Many days, we will not. On all days, however, your core will be functionally stressed, challenged, and strengthened. We aren’t interested in wasting your or our time chasing falsehoods, however popular they may be.

Trust me, your core is getting stronger even though we don’t do crunches.

- PS


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    • 800m run

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