Full Guide to Core Stability Training for Athletes
Lots of athletes are performing their core training wrong. Guys are either selecting the wrong movements, doing too much, too little, or doing their core training at the wrong times. Whatever the issue is, I want to clear that up today by discussing the first step of any athletes core training:
Core stability training.
To be clear, the goal of any kind of core training is to progress it form its foundation form all the way to core training that will translate directly to competition.
This starts with creating a stable base upon which high amounts of force and energy can transfer through. In other words, core stability training is the jumping off point.
Below, I’m going to share a COMPLETE guide to core stability training for athletes. This will include WHY we as athletes need core stability training, and the four areas of core stability training you need to hit on.
Why Do We Train Core Stabilization?
The main reason we train core stability is because the trunk, or core, is not always creating movement.
An example of the core creating movement is a baseball player swinging a bat. In this example, the trunk creates the rotation the baseball player needs to swing his bat.
So, if the core is not always creating movement, what else does it do?
It RESISTS movement.
As an example, think of a wide receiver running a down and in route. The receiver sprints off the line about five yards, stops on a dime to cut towards the center of the field. During that change of direction, the core is resisting the force that wants to continue to pull the receiver forward.
There are dozens of small, intricate muscles that activate to prevent the receiver’s torso from toppling forward. Not only that, you also need the ability to transfer your efficiently when changing directions quickly. That comes with core stabilization.
Four Areas of Core Stability Training for Athletes
The first area of core stability training for athletes is anti-rotation. Anti-rotation training works the deep core muscles and obliques to prevent rotation of the core.
The most practical benefit of anti-rotation training has to do with sprinting. A lot of athletes have a natural tendency to rotate the trunk while their sprinting. This causes them to leak force and lose speed.
Anti-rotation movements can give athletes the strength to fight that urge to rotate during a sprint. Anti-rotation movements can also help an athlete resist an opponent pulling them, fight momentum pulling them in a different direction, and more.
One of my favorite anti-rotation movements is the Pallof Press.
How to Perform the Pallof Press:
- Tie a band around a rack
- Face perpendicular to the rack, grab the band and step out laterally so there’s a good amount of tension on the band.
- Place the feet hip width and the shoulders down and back.
- Press the band away from your chest and back towards your chest for the desired amount of reps
- Be sure to press the band straight out and back in without rotating.
The second area of core stability training for athletes is anti-flexion. Anti-flexion training recruits the spinal erectors as well as the transverse abdominis to prevent your body from being pulled forward.
Anti-flexion training has many very practical benefits for athletes in multiple scenarios.
It can help combat athletes resist being pulled forward by their opponents. It can also help them prevent being pulled out of position by the momentum of their own punches.
Anti-flexion training can also help football players stay stable while being pulled on by opponents.
This kind of training also has very practical benefits for basketball players, baseball players, and more.
One of my favorite anti-flexion movements is the Clubbell Carry.
How to Perform a Clubbell Carry:
- Grab a clubbell or a dumbbell
- Keep the core tight and raise the clubbell or dumbbell up to shoulder level (the elbows can be slightly bent)
- Maintaining this position, walk the desired distance
The third area of core stability training for athletes is anti-extension training. Anti-extension training strengthens the spinal erectors and the traverse abdominis. The purpose of anti-extension training is to give you the ability to resist someone trying to fold you backwards.
An example of someone trying to fold you backwards is very real in football. When some guys get hit on the field, they have a tendency to extend at the back. This can be bad news, as the sudden jolt backwards can create a bunch of injuries.
Anti-extension training can help prevent this.
Anti-extension training can also help linemen engaged with other linemen, basketball players who get pushed from behind, and more.
One of my favorite anti-rotation movements is the Stir the Pot.
How to Perform the Stir the Pot:
- Begin by placing your forearms on a swiss ball like you would a plank
- Keep the core tight and make sure the hips and shoulders are in a straight line on a diagonal plane
- Make big circles clockwise and counter clockwise while maintaining tightness in the core.
4. Anti-Lateral Flexion
The last area of core stability training for athletes is anti-lateral flexion. Anti-lateral flexion is your ability to resist flexing at the sides. An example is if you’re holding a heavy object, like a suitcase, in one hand, but not the other.
Your ability to resist lateral flexion is what’s keeping the suitcase from dropping to the floor.
This ability also has very real benefits for athletes. For example, if someone is trying to strip a running back, part of their ability to hold the ball in position through that pressure from their opponent is anti-lateral flexion.
On the same note, if someone is trying to swipe the ball from a basketball player, they need anti-lateral flexion to maintain their position.
Baseball players, golfers, and tennis players also need this ability to maintain control over their swings. This is especially true for tennis players, as lack of control could lead to them getting out of position.
My favorite anti-lateral flexion movement is a Suitcase Carry.
How to Perform a Suitcase Carry:
- Grab a kettlebell or a dumbbell
- Stand up tall with the weight in one hand.
- Rotate the elbow with the weight in hand out slightly
- The opposite hand should be placed on your chest
- Walk the desired distance, switch hands, then come back