Core Stability, Power Output and Performance

Something that frustrates me… “I have a strong core, I do like 1000 crunch’s every night before bed.”  Well, let me tell you something… Core DOES NOT translate to abs.  In fact, excessive trunk flexion (crunching) will often result in the development of muscular imbalances and cause more harm than good.

How should we define the ‘core’?

If we’re going to define the core from a geeky perspective, I like the definition found in > this study<:

Core muscle activity is best understood as the pre-programmed integration of local, single-joint muscles and multi-joint muscles to provide stability and produce motion. This results in proximal stability for distal mobility, a proximal to distal patterning of generation of force, and the creation of interactive moments that move and protect distal joints.”

*Proximal refers to anything closer to the centre of the body (your pelvis if very central, a strong ‘core’ will effectively stabilize the pelvis) and distal refers to segments further from the centre (limbs.. arms & legs).

So, If a strong core effectively stabilizes your pelvis… Will training abs and solely rectus abdominis (abs) achieve this?  Nooo way!  In order to develop a stable core we need to be looking at several muscle groups and their ability to co-contract (work together) to ultimately provide stability.  An assessment to improve core stability should cover passive length tension (flexibility) to active movement (squat, lunge, overhead squat patterns).  Through a variety of assessments we will be able to identify the most appropriate exercises to address current imbalances and ultimately stability and strength.

Testing strength imbalances (strength ratios front v.s. back squat, bench press v.s. pull-up v.s. external rotation etc…) provides critical information to develop an effective strength and conditioning program.  Including the appropriate accessory work for each athlete.  The accessory exercises built into your program are critical to maintain joint health and ongoing progress in the department of strength, power and overall performance.

Examples of accessory exercise:

  • Plank variations
  • Pallof press
  • Reverse crunch
  • Jack-Knife
  • Cable side extensions
  • Ab wheel roll outs
  • Leg raises
  • Hip bridge & variations

The list goes on …. and …. on!

There is a time and a place for all types of training & exercise, the challenge is identifying the appropriate time and place.   I will say, I often see people jump on the core bandwagon and forget about actually getting strong (a stable core is like a pre-requisite for more complex movements).

Core training


  • Looking at the core as a single muscle group is a recipe for disaster, especially when training for performance
  • Train for the demands of your sport


Categories: TRAINING, Uncategorized

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