A guide to core strength training

Poor posture is one of the biggest problems facing people's health in modern life. However, regular core stability exercise can improve your back muscles and your posture. Here's the realbuzz guide on getting started in core strength training exercise.

How do you usually watch television?

When watching TV, most people relax on a soft sofa for comfortable viewing but that is very different to the way in which a young child sits to watch TV. Children invariably watch TV sat on the floor, totally unsupported with a straight back.

Try the ‘television test’ yourself by sitting unsupported on the floor and after about a minute, you’ll probably find that you’ve rounded your shoulders and are leaning forward onto your knees to support your upper body.

So what do children have that many of us have lost? The answer is core stability. Running right around your abdomen is a network of ‘core’ muscles that hold us in and keep us stable. They are critical to maintaining good posture and because we sit on soft sofas etc, these muscles have become ‘de-trained’ with a resultant loss of posture. By training your core muscles, you can regain your core strength together with a host of additional benefits, particularly:

Top benefits from core stability training:
• Improved balance
• Improved joint and body stability
• Improved posture
• Increased core strength
• Reduced risk of injury
• Improved sporting performance
• Fun!

Choosing core stability training equipment

Minimal equipment is needed to improve your core strength and there are many exercises that can be executed solely using your bodyweight. However, to fully challenge your core muscles, a stability ball is a tremendous aid. Stability balls are becoming far more commonplace but before using one, it is important to select a suitable diameter ball for your size.

Many shops sell ‘one-size-fits-all’ 65cm diameter stability balls but for most people, these are far too large. Because they are so big, they are then used under-inflated and by exercising on a very soft ball, a large surface area is in contact with the ground, which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Far greater and faster gains can be achieved through using a smaller ball pumped up harder, so that there is less surface area in contact with the floor.

Foundation stability ball exercises

1. Stability ball balancing and kneeling

Stand with feet approx 45cm apart.
Position the stability ball on the floor and up against the knees and shins.
Place hands on top of the ball.
Pushing up from the toes, slowly roll forward with the ball until feet are off the floor until balance is achieved.

Key coaching point

Initially, position a mat in front of the ball to provide confidence should you roll forward.


Once balance can be achieved, remove a hand or leg and eventually both hands until it is possible to kneel completely upright on the ball.

2. Stability ball floor bridge

Lie face up on the floor, arms outstretched either side of the body.

Position heels on the ball, toes pointing at the ceiling and lift body off the floor. Form a straight line from shoulders through to ankles. Contract core muscles and keep pelvis elevated to maintain correct position.

Key coaching points

If the standard floor bridge position is too challenging, reposition feet so that ankles and calves are supported by the ball. As core strength increases, revert to solely heels on the ball.


Gradually bring arms in towards body until eventually they can be lifted off the floor together, leaving only the shoulders in contact with the floor.


One final benefit of stability ball training is that it is tremendous fun despite the challenging nature of the exercises. That alone is an excellent endorsement and regular stability ball training will add a completely new dimension to your exercise routine, providing a comprehensive range of benefits.

Improve sports performance, and prevent injuries with exercise ball exercises.

With these free exercise ball exercises you can flatten your stomach, break through a training plateau, or just bench press more than the guy next to you in the gym. Would you like to hit each club in your golf bag and extra 10 to 15 yards, improve your backhand from any position in the tennis court, take 2 minutes off your 10K run time or be the last man standing after a fight for the puck.

You can achieve this and reduce your risk of sports injuries when you strengthen your core. We can expect such a wide range of benefits because no matter what sport you are involved in, they all require your trunk muscles to perform the same critical function - the efficient transfer of energy between the lower and upper extremities through a stable core. Training for a high performance core is now considered a necessary component of conditioning programs for high performance athletes.

The training concepts described represent the ultimate evolution of sport specific training. As an athlete with excellent core stability you will generate greater power, and strength in any off balance situation. You will run, swing, jump, and swim with greater efficiency. You will be able to apply the strength you have developed in the gym more effectively in functional and competitive situations.

Your extremities are only as strong as your core. In football having a strong core is vital to reduce injury and enhance performance. Every movement begins at the core. Core strength training, core stability and core power developed correctly and systematically in a proper core training program will lead to greater success in football. When building your next core training program remember proper progression decreases the likelihood of injury and increases performance. No need to hurry through a core training program. Core training should be a lifetime endeavour.

There is no doubt that modern core training has evolved way above and beyond the old school way of crunches and sit ups. The goal of a proper core training program is to strengthen, stabilize and provide power to the core in the proper way so that your training will carry over to the practice field and game. Just by doing sits ups and crunches you will not get there.

Proper abdominal training will address deep musculature like the multifidus and transverse abdominus. The proper core training proper will train external obliques as well as other important muscles.

But what is Core Strength? And how does it apply to sport?

Core Strength Training is a method of developing core stability and core power. These are two elements that when trained effectively, will lead to a number of physical benefits that can help a wide variety of activities and sports. Every initial movement starts from the core; it provides the rest of the body with stability. Without a stable platform to work upon, how can you expect the rest of the muscles in your body to function in a controlled and effective way?!

Just like any type of training, you need to begin with a program that will be right for you, in order for you to get the best out of it. There is no point doing a few sit ups everyday and hoping for the best, I'm afraid this will NOT work. Many muscle groups make up your core and it is essential that each of these is trained in the correct way, in order for you to benefit in any way.

Muscle Groups
Many people think that the core is only made up of the stomach muscles, but in fact the core consists of the lumbar, pelvic and hip regions, each comprising of many different muscles. A few of these muscles include:

Hip Muscles
• Psoas
• Gluteus maximus
• Iliacus

Abdominal Muscles
• Obliques
• Rectus Abdominus
• Transvers Abdominals

Lumbar Spine Muscles
• Transversospinalis Group
• Latissimus Dorsi
• Quadratus Lumborum

Now, I guess you probably haven't heard of most of these muscles, right? Well maybe you have but either way it's not significant because all that matters is that you understand the importance of what these muscles do and how to train them properly!!

What are the physical Benefits?
Ø Reduced risk of Injury - a well trained core can help prevent many common injuries
Ø Effective Energy Distribution - More power can generated from other muscle groups with a stable core
Ø Improved Running Performance - speed and efficiency can result from good core stability
Ø Better Posture - Stronger core muscles will help to maintain good posture and prevent back pain
Ø Improved Balance - Good core stability will help you to stay on your feet throughout your football game!

I've told you the benefits, now its time for you to do something about it! As I said before it is vital that, in order for you to effectively train your core, you find a program that will work for you and stick to it! You can go away now and search for core strength training programmes and you will probably find hundreds but I'll bet that most of them are a complete waste of time, based on outdated methods and theories. You maybe lucky and find one that works for you but you will have to invest a great deal of time finding one.

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