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

What Stops People From Starting Now?

Napoleon Hill studied under the most successful men in the world. He learned from the minds and habits of titans like Henry Ford, to discover what makes a man successful. Hill’s wisdom is a credible source for those who wish to accomplish their goals.

So often, we use “waiting for the right time”, as an excuse to procrastinate. As a trainer, do you know how many times I’ve heard people tell me that they’d love to start training “as soon as…”, or “right after…”? It’s a lot. There always seems to be some obstacle that people are willing to let stop them. I’ll list a few of the most common excuses. Let’s see if you can relate:

“After the holidays”— Start before the holidays. Make healthier choices during the temptation of holiday gatherings, and save your New Years resolution for something new this year.

“When work calms down”— Life will always have stressors. Instead of giving in, start exercising now. Develop positive habits to cope with your stress more effectively, and prioritize your health. You can calm down, even if work doesn’t.

“When my back/knee/hip stops hurting”— There are definitely times where pain or injury should stop you from exercise. Your doctor can tell you when that is. Truthfully, though, fitness is going to help you reduce aches and pains 9/10 times. Inactivity hurts more than a healthy, active lifestyle. Learn to train properly, and use corrective exercise to build a pain free body.

When it comes to making healthy choices, working out, and eating right, “today” is always the best day to start. Don’t wait.

USAW Level 2

Continuing education is part of the JTP mission to be the best, and to bring you the best service.  Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to earn a new credential from USA Weightlifting; Joe Pascale, USAW Level 2- Advanced Sports Performance Coach.

Watch for some upcoming weightlifting features.  Clean, jerk, snatch!  I’ve got the bug right now…

World Class Athlete: Bryce Saddoris

Wow.  Today, in North Carolina, I got to talk training with one of the baddest dudes on the planet.  Bryce Saddoris is a First Lieutenant in the USMC.  He’s also #3 on the USA Olympic Ladder for Greco Roman Wrestling.  Bryce was a two time D1 All-American wrestler at the US Naval academy as well, and holds the record for most wins in the history of the program.  Just this year he’s qualified for the CISM World Military Championships by placing 1st in the US Military Freestyle Wrestling Championships.  He has also qualified for the Greco Roman World Trials by placing 3rd in the US Open Greco-Roman National Championships.  Saddoris is a serious contender to make the US Olympic team for 2016.  He is definitely someone worth learning from when it comes to training.

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Best Gyms in the US: D1 Sports Training

While on my mission to find the best gyms, strength coaches, and athletes to feature on JoeToPro, I visited Savannah, Georgia.  There, I got  to spend a couple of weeks training at a facility called D1 (http://www.d1sportstraining.com/).  Sporting several locations in the South East, D1 is a true sports performance gym.   The Savannah location is co-owned by Tim Tebow and Herschel Walker.  They have trained tons of professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and pro fight game.  Some of my favorites include Chipper Jones, Peyton Manning, Vernon Davis, and Jermain Taylor.  These guys know how to train.  Seriously.

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Vary Tempo for Better Results

Tempo in strength training is the intended time taken for the eccentric and concentric (up and down… or relaxed and contracted) portion of an exercise.  Here at JoeToPro, we’ve been talking a lot about tempo recently.  Everyone has their favorite method of training, and tends to train mostly with their favorite tempos… but is it better to lift with a fast, moderate, or slow tempo?  What effect does tempo really have on training?

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