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The science of core training, part 2

Updated on November 29, 2011


In the first part of core training, I covered the muscles of the core, the three planes of motion involved with exercise, and the types of muscular contraction. In this article, I will give three examples of unique core exercises using the principles discussed previously. The three exercises are: the 3 point row; the iso cable press lunge; and the supine airplane dumbbell press.

The 3 point row

The first exercise that I will demonstrate is the 3 point row. Be on your toes and have one of your hands on a block. With the other hand, hold a dumbbell and raise it to your side just like you would with a one arm row. Keep your elbow in by your side as you raise and lower the weight. Do it in a slow, controlled manner and don't let the weight touch the floor at the bottom. It is important that you do not open up the hips as you raise the weight. Keeping the pelvis facing the ground will make the core work hard in a static contraction against the resistance. The resistance is coming through the core from the sagital plane (front to back). As you use heavier weights, the core will get stronger.

The Iso Cable Press Lunge

You need access to a cable press machine of some sort to do this exercise. Any kind of functional trainer machine should do the trick. You will hold the cable handle with one hand and do a combination of a chest press with the hand and a lunge with the other foot (see video for proper form). This is a whole body movement with resistance coming from one side. If you keep the pelvis facing forward throughout the movement, the core will have to stabilize the pelvis against resistance in the sagital plane. Once you do it, you can feel the core working hard in a functional sense. It is a good way to train the body to work in a 3d environment with uneven forces going through the body, preparing it for work in the real world.

The Supine Airplane Dumbbell Press

This is a killer core exercise if it is done right. On a fit ball, hold a dumbbell in one hand while laying down face up. Roll off the ball about 3 or 4 inches towards the side that you are holding the weight. With your shoulder off the ball, hold it parallel with the other shoulder on the ball and keep it there. Slowly lift and lower the weight just like you would a regular dumbbell press (view the video for the proper form). Like the Cable Press Lunge, the core has to work against resistance in the sagital plane.


As you can see, you do not need to do just a bunch of crunches of leg lifts to work the core. If you understand the three planes of motion and the different muscles that make up the core, you can design any number of exercises that do the job. What's more, by doing different variations such I showed here, you get a better developed, overall stronger core...and it is more fun!


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