Training the core requires an exercise regime that goes beyond a simple “abs and back” workout. A strong base of support at the core of the body allows for better transfer of forces to the extremities. The human kinetic chain is able to transfer load optimally because of the relationships of two functionally integrated musculoskeletal groups known as the inner unit and outer unit. The inner core muscles assist in stabilizing the spine and pelvis, whereas the outer core muscles are the movers of the spine.
When teaching core moves, aim to utilize inner and outer musculature as you would in daily life, allowing natural mobility in bending, extending, rotating, and stabilizing movement. Adding a BOSU® Balance Trainer or stability ball to your core workouts is a great way to achieve this. A core-focused, whole-body plan will develop a strong, stable power center and create a functionally fit body.
Here are some tips:
- Begin new exercises with the easiest balance position, and encourage controlled movement at all times.
- As clients master a move, progress it by manipulating balance challenge variables (reducing points of contact; changing focal point; adding a movement or an external stimulus, such as a weighted ball or dumbbell).
- As participants progress, cue decreased range of motion until they learn the new motor pattern.
- Have clients anchor the pelvis when training trunk mobility, and have them maintain a neutral spine when training trunk stability.
- Make sure participants are aware of their breath and know how to transition safely on the ball or BOSU trainer.
Extended Kick Crunch on BOSU Balance Trainer
Begin lying supine on BOSU trainer, lumbar spine centered, feet hip width apart on floor, knees bent and arms extended overhead, maintaining neutral neck alignment. Flex trunk and simultaneously draw one knee and both elbows toward center of body. Once flexed, continue to extend leg and elbows, bringing leg perpendicular and arms parallel to floor. Hold, and slowly return to start.
- Alternate legs.
- Perform 8–20 repetitions.
- Hold weighted ball with both hands to challenge balance and add resistance.
- Easier variation: cross arms and focus only on leg and trunk movement.
Lateral Trunk Flexion
Start side-lying over BOSU trainer, hips centered and stacked, both legs extended and “scissored” so that top leg is in front. Adjust distance between legs for appropriate balance challenge (wider position is more stable). Place one hand behind head and top arm at side. Lower torso toward floor until you feel slight side stretch. From this position, laterally flex away from floor. Focus on drawing bottom of rib cage closer to hip. Hold, and then lower down with control.
- Perform 8–20 reps.
- Repeat on both sides.
- To increase resistance, bend both arms.
- Initiate movement from trunk, avoiding neck pull.
- Don’t let hips and shoulders move forward and back.
- Add hip abduction for increased balance challenge.
For an additional core exercise using a stability ball, please see the full article, “Cut to the Core,” in the online IDEA Library or in the November–December 2009 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.