|Core Training: |
A primary ideal that has been incorporated into almost all athletic training regimes over the past 10 years is to train the “core” of the body. The core isn’t simply made up of the abdominals or the oblique’s as some think. The core of the body consists of all the muscle groups that surround and stabilize the spine and pelvic region. Most of the primary core muscles in your body are actually not even visible to the eye, but are extremely important because they help you keep a strong back, maintain balance and strength, and allow for the limbs of the body to exert more power and stable force. While the core of the body is important to all athletes it is also essential to a healthy lifestyle; having a healthy core can help avoid back and hip problems, and consequently having an unhealthy core can lead to them. One can see in a sport such as gymnastics how important it is to have a strong core, every athletic movement needing balance, weight displacement, and strength relies heavily on the core muscles of the body. As they say with a chain being only as strong as its weakest link, the human body can only perform at the athletic level their core is at. Some popular core exercises that one may be able to do at home are:
Prone Bridge: balance on the tips of your toes and elbows while lying in a face down position, maintaining a straight line with your back running from your head to your heels. When holding this position focus on tightening your lower back and abdominal section.
Lateral Bridge: start on your right side and press yourself up with your right arm forming a bridge and maintaining a straight line from your hand to your foot. Alternate sides.
Supine Bridge: Lying on your back, raise your hips so that only your head, upper-back, and feet are touching the floor.
Russian Twists: Sitting on the floor with your hips and knees flexed to about a 90 degree angle, use a medicine ball or dumbbell that you can swing from one side of your body to the other in a twisting motion but keeping the hips stationary.
Note: Others exercises you can do for the core are: pull ups, squats, crunches, and other abdominal exercises, lunges, back extensions, and dead-lifts.
Power training enables an athlete to apply a large amount of strength in short rapid burst. As we can see by the Olympics this is essential not only for the gymnasts but also the sprinters and boxers as well. Even if an individual has a high amount of maximum strength they can’t apply that strength to many athletic performances because it can’t be repeated at a rapid pace.
Heavy strength training is still important for power training though because it helps govern the first phase of movement. This is the phase starting when the muscle is stationary and needs an initial burst of energy to propel oneself or an object. The second phase becomes less reliable on strength and relies heavily on speed to continue the force of movement. Both phases are inapplicable however if the athlete cannot repeat the process continually in a performance because most sports request that an athlete be able to sustain their performance.
Highly explosive strength training can help build up an athlete’s power and strength endurance. A few categories for this are ballistic training and plyometric training. Ballistics is a form of exercise wherein the force of movement is more concentrated (or exploited) rather than the resistance (or weight in most cases). Ballistics focuses on keeping movement at a high intensity for the longest sustainable time possible. An example of this is circuit training with high repetitions of exercises having minimal weight and moving from exercise to exercise with little rest in between. An example of this would be an athlete who would perform as many squat jumps as he could for 60 seconds and then moving straight to pull-ups with the same 60 second performance. Typically most college and professional athletes use this to gain muscular endurance on top of maximal strength and use a routine variably with 20 different exercises done twice a week. Plyometrics is another area that college, professional, and Olympic athletes train because it not only helps them with speed, and explosiveness but also agility. Plyometrics usually contain many various jumping exercises (such as box jumps) and medicine ball workouts many of which attempt to work in conjunction to their core workouts.
*Reproduced with permission from DiscountAnabolics.com, authored by Tim Sexton.