On things I have touched before (haaa, that’s what she said), core comes up ALL the time. It really is true that your core is the key to everything, so much so at one point I even stopped using the word completely because it became so bastardised. Just another marketing selling point. If you just do planks and sit ups you’ll have a rock solid, indestructible set of abs and be impervious to injury…. no, no you won’t. That’s a bad way to think.
Everyone is different and there is no “normal”. It is so frustrating when people read one article and decide to label themselves with every slight dysfunction it explains because the language fits how they felt once. I keep talking about mindset these days, make no mistake I don’t mean artsy-fartsy: “You can do it!” stuff, I mean are you genuinely THINKING that you are weak!?
I will slap you silly.
So that’s two bad ways to think, what should you think?
What I have found to be the best is thinking that you’re training your core ALL of the time, and to notice what movements are similar. There aren’t that many differences – think about it, you’re either maintaining a position, moving between positions or reacting to a stimulus…. that’s it. You can get fancy with different angles and crossovers but are they all really necessary? Plus, here’s an interesting hypothesis – the more your body learns the better it becomes at instantaneous reaction and adaptation. We all know those dicks that seem to have never been introduced to the word “clumsy”, able to effortlessly accomplish any new physical challenge that’s thrown at them.
I have taken the most blocky, rigid people to people more floppy than fish and tested them all with stability drills they have never tried before (seriously, I know a lot of weird stuff) and for a large part they all do fine. The people that fail generally don’t even have to do the test, they tell you when you meet them: “Oh, I have a weak core, I’ll suck at this”
How does this mindset creep in!?
I honestly can’t believe how often I hear it, and what is absolutely heartbreaking to me is seeing the people that have held this belief for ten or twenty years! Think of all the things they have actively avoided, the painkillers they’ve taken, not playing with their kids and fucking agony they have went through!? For what?? Because no one took the time to educate them better? Very few people understand how debilitating chronic back pain and fear can be, it can literally change someone’s entire life and attitude. Without being too dramatic, it can ruin it.
From the general population perspective, the disconnection from your own inner strength and confidence can really throw a spanner in your training. I talk a bit in my article injuries are awesome about how injuries and pain are one of the best learning tools. You aren’t unlucky, you’re being given a chance to learn. The same thing applies if you find certain core exercises “challenging” it doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it just means your body is currently learning. Think about it this way, the gains you’re receiving are tenfold compared to someone that doesn’t struggle with it, just because you find something hard it doesn’t immediately make that a bad thing.
One of the things I do encourage people to watch out for at my seminars is alignment. Knowing if your hips are in the right place when you’re resting and training is the start of your “core” training. If you aren’t aware of your hips, you can do all of the anti rotational exercises in the world and all you’re just ingraining that bad position. In the video below is a great example of that with Dee, if we had’ve jumped in to training when he was offset, his body would have just gotten stronger in that bad position. This position had been progressive and where there was no pain in the beginning as he has started getting stronger, pain has started presenting itself, one side is doing more than the other, one knee is annoyed, the other hamstring is annoyed… and this is all coming from his pelvis.
Your core isn’t weak, it’s just doing what you’ve given it to do, if you give it wonky hips and constant lack of variety it’s gonna get dumb. Yes I called your core “dumb”. Imagine if you stopped talking to new people, or reading – what would happen to your brain? It wouldn’t work the best would it? Your body is no different, but as the weird happy yogis say, the mind and body are connected… or something like that, and it’s true, your body has a consciousness, it thinks and can get better at thinking but you have to give it the material!
Your core is not weak, you just aren’t exploring what it can do AND you’re overthinking, never do that, no one is smart enough for that. Stand on one leg and try and turn your head left and right fast with your eyes closed, that’ll be a start.