Alternative ways to improve abdominal strength and core stabilization
Les Archer demonstrates core-stabilisation exercises for experienced athletes whose sports require dynamic balance
There have been, and I suppose will be many more articles on the subject of developing core strength. This article looks at just a few ideas I have developed to help improve the stability amongst sportsmen and women that have done a reasonable level of stability training. What I have done is try to change the static prone bridge or plank to a more dynamic exercise. The sports that I coach require the players and athletes to have superior stability or dynamic balance while applying force. In track and field, the rotational forces that the core is exposed too needs to be developed to such an extent that it will be minimized when running.
This also applies to rugby and hockey where running is the major activity before play takes place. I also believe that it is not always possible for athletes or players to get their hands-on expensive equipment, so the following will hopefully help with this regard. Important to note that the tummy is pulled in and the gluteus muscles squeezed at all times and keep the body still and as straight as possible.
Skateboards: Prone position.
Keep the hips parallel to the floor at all times.
Movement: Forward and backward
In place of the skateboards, you can use rowing machines just as good, although the skate boards will benefit you more as they bring a more advanced level of instability into the exercise, as both sides are worked 'independently.'
Weights: Prone position
NOTE: Moving the weights forward and backwards, places huge amounts of pressure on the lower back and abdominals.
Start off by moving the weights forward and backwards with small movements. Once this can be done without any discomfort, pull the weights more towards your abdominals than forward. This will place less stress on your back. The further forward you move the weights the more stress is placed on the lower back.
Once again keep the hips parallel to the floor.
Movements: Forwards and backwards
Muscles involved: These movements work the obliques.
It is important to keep the gluteus muscles squeezed and tummy pulled in. The body should be kept as straight as possible.
To advance form this position you would require TheraBand. Place it around the bar and stretch it to a point where it is difficult for the person to keep the bar still. Now with normal movement forward and backward do the exercises.
If you need to develop one side more than the other, simply place the TheraBand on that side. One could either resist the backward (To this side) pull or the forward (To this side) pull. Once the person has mastered this, a further TheraBand could be used, resisting in both the forward and backward movement. I am sure there are many alternative ways to improve on core strength and stability, but in my experience, this has been one of the hardest for rugby players, field hockey players and track and field athletes.
Important: THIS IS NOT FOR THE WEAK.
When performing these exercises, you have to keep your tummy tucked or pulled in at all times. As a rugby strength and conditioning coach, I found that this is a good exercise for the front rowers, where it is important to have a strong core when it comes to scrumming. The repetitions and sets will depend on the athlete's level of core strength and stability.
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About the Author
Les Archer is track and field coach in South Africa with experience from schools to the Olympics specialising in sprints and long jump. He is also the current strength and conditioning coach for the Golden Lions rugby union in South Africa.
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