At High Altitude Training of Arizona we develop individualized core stability and strength training programs based on MAT testing, analysis of training history, biomechanics, and athlete feedback. This article provides general information and basic examples to define core stability and differentiate it from core strength. Both are essential!!

All movement begins with the contraction of the stabilizing muscles of the core!

The body is made up of roughly 602 muscles that move 206 bones. These muscles can be classified into one of two categories: movement muscles and stabilizing muscles.

There are 29 muscles that attach to the core, which is the axial skeleton (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, and the pelvis). If you remove the arms and legs what is left over is the core!

The stabilizers of the spine are designed to fire a split second prior to any movement in order to create a stable platform. There are 11 muscles of the 29 that attach to the core which function to stabilize the core directly. This allows the movement based muscles of the body to effectively and efficiently produce optimum levels of force.

A sound core conditioning program should begin with a base of core stabilization.

Outlined below are examples of the many effective core training exercises used at High Altitude Training of Arizona!

Core stability training phase ( 4 weeks):
Core stabilization exercises place stress upon the spine with little to no movement of the spine. The ability to find a neutral spinal position and resist the effects of gravity will help protect the body from mechanical injuries and provide a strong base for muscles that generate movement and power to work with less effort.

Thus, stabilization exercises optimize performance and decrease injuries dramatically. Core stabilization should be established in all three planes of motion before moving into core strengthening exercises.

• Sagittal – Planks/bridges
• Frontal – Side Planks with a hold
• Transverse – Stability ball grasshopper

Before any exercise:
Use the drawing-in maneuver (pulling in the muscles below the navel, activating the local stabilization system) and bracing (“bearing down” and activating the global stabilization system- see lists of muscles involved in reference below).

Core strength training phase (add to core stabilization exercises) (4-12 weeks):
Core strengthening exercises are exercises that begin to add more dynamic eccentric and concentric motion of the spine.

• Sagittal – Frog leg sit ups, crunches, stability ball crunches
• Frontal – Straight leg ball dead bug
• Transverse – Band rotations, wood chops

Again: Use the drawing-in maneuver (pulling in the muscles below the navel, activating the local stabilization system) and bracing (“bearing down” and activating the global stabilization system- see lists of muscles involved in reference below).

Core power training phase (add to core stability and strength exercises) (ongoing)
Core power exercises are used to increase the rate of force production by the core musculature, and to prepare the body to dynamically stabilize and generate force at greater speeds.

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• Sagittal – Plank to Pushup with shoulder tap, Medicine ball (MB) pullover throw
• Frontal – MB lateral throw
• Transverse – Hanging straight leg windshield wipers, Rotational chest pass, front MB oblique throw

Again: Use the drawing-in maneuver (pulling in the muscles below the navel, activating the local stabilization system) and bracing (“bearing down” and activating the global stabilization system- see lists of muscles involved in reference below).

FYI, the following are stabilizing muscles on the core!!

LOCAL STABILIZATION MUSCLES OF THE CORE provide support from vertebra to vertebra:
Transverse abdominis
Internal oblique
Lumbar multifidus
Pelvic floor muscles
Diaphragm

GLOBAL STABILIZATION MUSCLES OF THE CORE transfer loads between upper and lower extremities
Transverse abdominis
Quadratus lumborum
Psoas major
External oblique
Rectus abdominis
Gluteus medius
Adductor complex