Many gym-goers all over the world are leaving potential performance gains on the table by not directly training their core. Big, compound lifts are fantastic at building maximal strength and power, but there are more physical qualities that go untrained if you do not expose your body to other movements. Whereas some people might interpret this as a call to stop lifting weights altogether, the truth is that by combing lifting with time and energy towards building your core strength, you are likely to improve your 1 repetition max across the board on all the big lifts. Let’s see how below.
1. Expose Deficiencies
First, specifically focusing on your core strength will help expose any deficiencies you may have that are holding you back from fully expressing your true physical potential. For example, can you hold an Arch Body Hold as shown above for a full 60 seconds without losing your breath, shaking like a baby deer, or cramping up in your back? If not, then you most likely have some tightness along the front of your body or weakness in the posterior chain. Either way, your ability to stabilize weight overhead, reach full shoulder flexion, and fully contract your glutes and hamstrings will be limited. Take care of your Arch Body Hold, and watch your Olympic weightlifting numbers go increase.
2. Improve Weak Links
Another benefit to training core strength for lifters is that it will target your weak links and help them improve. Take the Hollow Body Hold, for instance, a staple in the diet for all Gymnastics Strength Training™ athletes all over the world. You should be able to hold a full Hollow Body position, as demonstrated by GB Master Affiliate Awaken owner Orench Lagman, for at least 60 seconds without losing your shape, breaking up the set, or shaking to the point of epileptic seizure. If you try this and fail, then your anterior core strength is definitely a weak link that is holding you back in lifts like front squats, overhead squats, deadlifts, and more. Remember: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so by training Hollow Body Holds, you will improve your total body strength, power, and athleticism.
3. Train Different Ranges of Motion
Lastly, the big, compound lifting movements all generally take place in a straight up and down, vertical plane of motion. Other oblique-focused core strength exercises like Side Plank Twists, however, get your body to move in a rotational, twisting manner that otherwise goes untrained. As demonstrated here from the Foundation Series, the emphasis of the movement should be on keeping your hips squared up to the front, and pretend that your torso is a towel that you are trying to “wring” out dry. Touch your top elbow to the ground, then rotate back up using your lower obliques. By adding Side Plank Twists to your training program, you will complement all the heavy sagittal plane exercises with more varied ranges of motion.
Lifters can benefit from more dedicated core strength than just the big, compound lifts.
Try Hollow and Arch Body Holds to expose your deficiencies and improve your weak links.
Side Plank Twists also force your body to adapt to a new range of motion.
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