In all aspects of our lives we are constantly evolving as we develop, grow and expand our knowledge. This should be the case in our fitness routine too.
Over time my personal approach to fitness has definitely changed and it will continue to do so into the future. I will be the first to admit that I have made many mistakes in the past, and I am not afraid to address these. One of the biggest ones I made was advocating not training your core. Let me explain.
I seem to remember that there was this phase on social media when everyone was saying you shouldn’t isolate abs, or that you don’t need to train them if you’re lifting weights correctly. I certainly bought into this school of thought. I am certain that there will be a youtube video somewhere on my channel where I will say that I never train abs and that I target them though my other weight training.
Now, you do use your core to support compound exercises such as squats, overhead presses and deadlifts. However, you shouldn’t neglect isolated core training all together in favour of this. In fact, these isolation exercises can be super important.
As my training has developed, I’ve started to focus on form more than ever before and I have also taken up gymnastics. These two things have really opened my eyes and taught me a lot about my body. I have come to realise that my core is actually one of my biggest weaknesses. It turns out "targeting it through my other weight training" just wasn’t enough for me. Now, I am going to have to to spend months if not years playing catch up attempting to strengthen it enough to support my workouts sufficiently.
I’m not saying you need to do a 1,000 crunches a day as that probably isn’t the most efficient use of your time, and can actually do more harm than good. However, using more functional core stability exercises such as TRX training, hollow body holds, rotational cable work and plank variations can seriously support a strong core and shouldn’t be neglected. Developing a strong core is beneficial for other forms of training, reduces the risk of injury and supports good posture too.
I now train core in isolation twice a week at the end of my other workouts, and my strength is steadily increasing. Please don’t make the mistakes I have in the past, look after your core and train it in isolation!
Photo: Jon Payne