rotten to the core


the core redfined...

do I have your attention yet? good! because this shit is important as fuck. listen up!

if you have ready any of the workouts you have noticed my inclusion and insistence upon core work, either for strength, mobility, or stability, and warming up. that is for a good reason. and it is also for a good reason that I chose this as my first proper "training" or "workout" article that has (almost) nothing to do With punk rock or monster movies (almost).

I chose to write about the core because it is literally the base of everything we do, and everything we do is built on top of it. think of the core as the graveyard and all the zombies and cool tombstones are the workouts, diets, movements, and whatever other crazy shit that we do for better results. but, we can't have any of that if we don't have the proper space to build it upon. without further ado, or before I make another unforgiving horror movie pun, rhyme, or reference.. let's explore the core, children of the night... 

to be clear: this article will not provide you a complete core training program or anything like that. it will give recommendations and explain what the core is and does. which leads me to the second reason why I chose to tear apart the core as the  first article,  because i've noticed a massive misunderstanding of what the core actually is. so, turn on some James brown, and let's break it the hell down. OW!

your core is made up of a whole army of different muscles and such. it ain't just those sexy abdominals you want everyone to see while you're drinking (BLOOD)  by the pool.. oh no. the core is made up of basically everything you need to move, breathe, lift, rock n roll, and survive (if you're into that sort of thing). 

your core is essentially made up of... * cue the ominous music and lightning strikes*

shoulders & Scapula. thoracic spine. lumbar spine. pelvis. hips. and all of the muscles than link all of those things together.... otherwise known as... your abs!!! 

*cue more ominous music, screams, and glass shattering*

well, now that that's out of the way and was presented as non-dramatically as possible...

I want you to completely disregard the idea of attaining "ABS" when you are training your core, because having visible transverse abdominis and oblique muscles is not the function of the core nor is it the purpose for training it. and contrary to (seemingly) popular belief, your "abs" are not the only muscles in your core! rather, a small piece of the whole thing. they're like nice crispy slices of pepperoni on a fine east coast style pizza. Actually, they would technically be like the cheese holding it all together or maybe like stitches in leatherface's mask- anyway! don't get me on a tangent here, you know what i'm trying to say... I hope.  while those abdominals muscles are absolutely important and part of the core, and we want them to be sexy and strong (like everything else) they do not define it. and we cannot train the core as if to isolate those muscles. 

that being said, gone are the days of relying solely on sit ups, crunches, leg lifts, and planks for core work. they  all certainly have their place but will not suffice as an efficient core training program. so, what do I do!? ah, i'm so glad you asked...


properly training your core...

 core strength is simply the mobility and stability through the hips, torso, and shoulders; that allows for movement and transfer of force. and perhaps the most mind blowing thing about your core is that it is linked directed to the ' ol central nervous system. being your brain.. get it.. mind blowing.. ha!  now, quite obviously, I ain't no phd.. or md.. or bd... or have vd (I swear).. or any sort of any of that. but, I can rock n roll and lift weights with the fuckin' best of 'em, son. and I've been a strength and conditioning coach/personal trainer for an eternity so I know a thing or six about a thing or six. (if you read those 'six's' in a bruce Dickinson 'number of the beast' sort of way, we're friends.) so, please forgive the oversimplification and bro-science of this concept... but, basically, what Im saying is, your brain sends signals through your spine to initiate movement. and abra cadabra, your spine is essentially the base of your core.  its the central command center. its the queen alien. ya feel me? therefore, our goal becomes to prime the nervous system properly so it can utilize the full mobility potential of the body - and we do this by training the core through various methods.

 like mick jagger would tell ya, just move your hips. all efficient movement requires stability in the pelvis, so thats where we start. or, at least, that's what we should think about. wether you're picking up a weight, swinging a mythical battle axe, throwing a touchdown pass, and drop-kicking a zombie out of your path to freedom; movement is initiated by the hips, then there is a transfer of force through your "core" to the outer extremities. boom. therefore, having a strong and, more importantly stable, and mobile hip/pelvic area, is the ticket to optimal performance and injury prevention, my lifting dead friends. 

so to train the core properly and fire up what we want to fire up; we want to include it at the beginning of the session (and even in addition separately on an 'off' or recovery day) as part of the warm up. my next article is in the process of being written that will be a complete guide to this whole warm up thing, and that will include a number of specific exercises for your core and otherwise. until that is unleashed upon us, you'll have to bear with the generalizations...

the first step in warming up/training the core is soft tissue and adhesion work, meaning a self-myofascial release, meaning that was all a super unimpressively fancy way of saying foam rolling. or getting some knots out. dusting off those creepy cobwebs and such. we want to from roll using a roller or tennis/lacrosse ball your hips, tsoas, piriformis, hamstrings, glutes, lower back (lumbar), upper back (thoracic), lats, etc..

then, to shake of the rigor mortis, it would be smart to  move onto some flexibility and mobility work in the form of dynamic stretching, active isolated stretching, and yoga-style movements. that can be anything from a simple yoga flow to a specific thing such as a half-kneeling quad and hip flexor stretch. it all depends on you! there is not one size fits all for the misfits of fitness. check that out. and as I said before, more on the specific movements in the next article.

finally, stability or activation exercises need to be done here. these are more like our traditional "exercises" where we will do about 8 reps 2-3 times, deepening. think activation as in turning on the muscles. think gluten bridges, supermans, birddogs, back extensions, plank variations, and even (unweighted) squats/lunges, etc..

all this will lay the foundation for a strong and effiecent core. as I said,this article was not intended to prescribe you a specific core workout routine, rather just explain what is it and why we need to address it. the exercises I provided and will provide as part of the warm up do not take the place of any direct core strengthening work you do in any training session, rather just prime it for that. definitely still include your traditional core work; just be smart about where, when, and how to do it. or! simply continue to follow the workouts here on and keep reading on for the dynamic warmup guide. because we love you and want you to succeed.

thanks for reading. and if you didn't... that's super punk rock and I respect you.

go forth and lift, children of the night.