Daily Core Work

Carl Paoli Hollow body.jpg

By: Marcos Hernandez

There’s very few things as useful to athletics and exercise as a strong, stable core. It’s the base which allows for stabilization and transmission of force during lifts, proper breathing mechanics, and a healthy spine.
From the CrossFit Foundations manual written by Greg Glassman: 

“At CrossFit we endeavor to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity, which is by the way how good functional movements recruit muscle, from the core to the extremities.”

Not every exercise can or should be trained daily, but the core is one area that responds well to frequent training. In my experience, it’s best to do a little each day instead of treating the core like a major muscle group and hitting it hard once or twice a week. I’ve done everything from high-rep sit ups to all kinds of twists and turns but lately I’ve been lucky because my gymnastics program includes daily core work as a point of emphasis.
However, daily core work doesn’t simply mean grabbing an ab-wheel and doing rollouts until you “feel the burn”. You don’t need overly complicated or advanced core exercises, like the ab wheel rollout, in order to develop better core strength and stability. When you attempt movements you aren’t ready for and perform incorrectly, you’ll probably just end up with a sore back instead of stronger abs. With that in mind, here’s three combinations of core moves you can do multiple times per week. All combinations are three quick sets and I suggest 3 days per week as a starting point. Perform one of the following pairings per workout (before or after class), and rotate pairings each time you train.
1. Hollow Hold x5-10 slow exhales + Superman Hold x:15
2. Dead Bug x10 + Bird Dog x10
3. Hanging Knee Raise x5 (hold final rep for time) + Plank (from elbows or hands) x5-10 slow exhales
The hollow hold is the easiest to perform incorrectly, so follow the link for some tips on progressions and scaling options to meet you where you’re at with this movement. Give these core combos a try for the next few weeks and see how you feel. Even the awareness you gain from consistent core work will help keep you better organized and braced during heavy lifts. Don’t be surprised to see a PR in the future as well!