Workout of the Day

How to Actually Use Your Core


Let’s talk a moment about your “core.” I kind of hate the word. It’s been appropriated, misappropriated, and re-mis-appropriated in ways that have made the word lose its significance and value. To put it simply, though, your core is the lynchpin of any compound movement pattern. Squat, press, hingle, pull, carry -- your core is the piece that either allows or disallows transfer of energy from one limb to another, from one limb to an object, or from your body (as a system) into an object. As such, it makes sense why “core training” has such a buzz about it and why having a strong core is important if you intend to move heavy weight (or even your own body weight) with any sort of proficiency. But here’s the thing: you can have a the “strongest” core in the world, but without the capacity to brace under load, your core is useless. Bracing involves locking your torso into a proper position using countering forces of internal pressure and muscle contraction. Practically, bracing generally looks like locking your spine into a neutral position, pulling your ribs and hips into alignment, and engaging the muscles of the torso and hips to own this position under the demands of heavy loads.

To clear things up, let me use an analogy. Imagine trying to push a friend into the pool using a pool noodle. I don’t care how much jousting pressure you apply, that pool noodle is going to bend and wobble all over the place, and the amount of force that actually makes it to your friend isn’t going to do much in the way of pushing. Now imagine trying to push your friend into the pool using a 4x4 plank of wood. Just about every Newton of force you apply to the plank is going to make it’s way to your friend, and in the pool they go (sorry, friend). The pool noodle is an unbraced, weak core. You can have the leg strength of 1,000 powerlifters, but without a strong and properly braced core, you’re engaged in the futile task of trying to move big weights with a pool noodle, and that’s just not going to happen. This applies to everything we do. Pressing weight overhead, lifting a weight from the floor, squatting a weight, carrying or loading weight.

It’s of course a bit gimmicky to promise an easy fix to make sweeping improvements in all of your lifts. After all, there really is no “easy way.” But, this is a simple change you can make that will have a profound effect on your position and strength. I’m not going to say that bracing is some magic bullet, but I have seen athletes easily add 5-10% to their lifts just by bracing a little bit better.

We regularly address the concept of bracing in our GPP curriculum, but it deserves continual attention and re-emphasis. We’re not going on and on about bracing your core because it’s the sexy topic of the year. We’re interested in performance, and bracing will get you just that. We’re not making this stuff up, folks. Brace hard.

- PS


  • Snatch pull + snatch - 4x(2+1)


  • Every 3 mins for 12 mins, for time:

    • 5 snatches (65% of heaviest)

    • 200m sprint