When Should I Train My Core?

Does it really matter if you train your core before, during, or after your training session?  Actually, yes; and I’ll tell you why.  Many back injuries occur when the muscles of the core become fatigued, and fail to maintain stability.  So, it would be risky to target and fatigue those core muscles before calling on them to keep your back safe during the rest of your workout.  That means lots of core training before squats, deadlifts, and other heavy or complex movements is probably a bad idea.

Instead, your warm-ups should include just a few core activation movements.  This way, you’ll fire up your nervous system to recruit the correct muscles for safe and efficient movement, but won’t fatigue those muscles with lots of reps or weight.

During your workouts, focus your effort on safe, effective training.  Your core will work hard to stabilize your spine and assist in movement, without any targeted training.  Heavy compound lifts, like squats or power cleans, can generate far more core engagement than crunches.  So, remember to take good posture, brace, and stabilize your spine.  Your whole workout is core training.

At the end of your workout, when the rest of the job is done, it’s safe to do more core specific training.  An added bonus of organizing your training this way, is that training your now pre-fatigued core may lead to additional core-muscle endurance.  More core endurance equals more spinal stability and less injuries.

As always, progress your core training slowly.  Start with static holds, like planks.  Work your way up to flexion and extension, then onto rotation; all with controlled tempos.  Ballistic movements like medicine ball tosses come last, after you’ve developed a solid base of trunk strength, pelvic stability, and hip mobility.  The workout below is an example of core training for an advanced athlete.  Below that, I’ve also linked to an (old) exercise demo I did for one of the exercises in that program.

Full Contact Twists

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Shane Carwin’s Secret Core Activation Program

Last weekend, I learned this series for core activation and hip functionality from world class strength coach, Loren Landow.  Loren has coached countless NFL and UFC standouts, including retired superstar Shane Carwin.

Carwin told me that THIS short core activation series, which Landow uses as part of his general warm-up, made a bigger difference in his game than any other exercise.  Try it for yourself.


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Core Strength with Dr. Ed Race

Popular exercise culture has left lots of people believing that 1000’s of crunches are the secret to a strong core.  The truth is, your abs are just a small part of your body’s “core”.  Learn about all of the other muscles and how to prioritize your training with Dr. Ed Race and joetoproathlete.com online personal training.


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Full Contact Twists

Full contact twists are great for learning to transfer power created by leg drive through a stiff core, and use it in your upper body.  Punch harder, throw faster, swing a bat or a golf club more powerfully.  Tie it all together here.

To learn how full contact twists fit into a complete training program, and for a custom plan of your own, Become A Member today.  Online personal training at joetoproathlete.com will give you the edge you need.  Get live 1-on-1 attention from industry elite coaches and take your training to a new level today.