Quite frequently, I overhear or am approached by an athlete that says they “need more core work.” Of course, what they are talking about is the pretty 6-pack they see on the cover of their favorite magazine or the stomach of their favorite athlete. Many people see our lack of sit-up days (or ab days, lol) as a reason that their core is weak or a reason why they don’t have the pretty tummy.
This irritates me beyond belief. However, I cannot fault the majority of you as this is the type of fitness garbage that you’ve been force fed for so long…well, at least until you walked into CrossFit For Glory.
Without getting into too in-depth of an anatomy discussion, your core is made up of a number of muscles that work together in stabilizing your midline: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis (6-pack), internal and external obliques. For a sweet review, check this out.
You know what the key line was in that snipet above? Midline stabilization. Your core was designed for and functions for one purpose – to keep your spine intact. So, how do we get it stronger?
Well, “core work” duh! Sorry, had to throw that in there.
In short – we do core work every.single.day.
Think it takes a strong midline (ML) to back squat, front squat, clean, snatch, jerk…and do so heavy? Absolutely! Hmm…weird, it’s stuff that we do every time you step foot into the gym.
Look at the photos above. See what they have in common? Both have the elusive 6-pack you’re always asking about and they’re both standing in front of (or with) a heavy barbell. No ab exercises…their core was sharpened by move large loads, long distances, quickly. Of course, I could have easily cherry picked those photos, so need more proof? Google “crossfit games men” or “crossfit games women.” Did you happen to see any photos of them doing sit-ups or crunches?
Want to test your own ML strength? Do a 20RM back squat (ask Jay or Zack what that did to their psyches). Or hold a moderately heavy bar in the front rack for a minute. Or walk with something held overhead. Or maybe an overhead squat hold? I can promise that in all those scenarios, it’ll never be your legs or shoulders that give out first…it’ll be your ML.
Remember when we tested your 1RM Front Squat a few weeks ago? Universally and without question, every single person that failed did so by collapsing in the middle. It was never the legs. How do I know this? Because everyone can back squat more than they can front squat. So what changed? In simple terms – your midline is taxed more in the front rack position.
You know when I yell at you not to overextend at the torso when you press something overhead or to keep your chest tall when you lunge? Yep, that’s me enforcing your midline-stabilization (MLS).
And here is a quick end to this rant: you know why you never hear me say “keep your core tight”? Because it’s a misunderstood term that is pretty non-descriptive. Your “core” functions to stabilize your midline, plain and simple. So, stop worrying about your core. Think in terms of midline stabilization! Squat, snatch, clean, and jerk heavy, and often, and you’ll continue to get stronger and better at everything.
Want a snazzy 6-pack? Stop eating like crap.
Back Squat –
*Note: Start your first working set at 60% of your 1RM and go up each set.
Hip External Rotation
5 Rounds f/ Reps and Total Working Time –
30s ME KB High Pulls (53/35)
Run 400m (all out)
*Rest after rounds –