How to train the Core

I often get asked when should I do core training and what is the best exercise for my core?

Well luckily Dr Stuart McGill (@backfitpro) has done all the research for us!

McGill found that an isometric program was superior to a dynamic program. It effectively increased core stiffness immediately after the workout and over entire period of the study..


Isometric exercises promote greater core muscle strength gains as the muscle is engaged for longer (time under tension principle), and while dynamic exercises may be “more challenging” that does not guarantee they are more effective..

What this means?

McGill also proved isometric exercises enhances speed and power; McGill explained greater core stability and stiffness increase limb athleticism. So therefore having a stable base allows us to perform better..

How do you start?

Start by doing the big 3 and add 1 extra: Bird-dog, side plank, the core sit and the standard plank. These should be done daily as part of your spinal health regime like brushing your teeth. Once you have mastered these basics you can looks at adding more complex exercises such as;

  • Pallof press
  • Suitcase holds
  • Stir the pot

The core is active in all sorts of movements such as the deadlift, squat, farmer’s carry, OH carries, med ball carries etc. So start by using the big 3 (+1 extra) then applying those principles in a training setting.

So based on what I’ve written doing some core exercises before a training session is the right way to go as it increases stiffness and improves performance.

No Brainer!!!


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