To the Core
Why is Core Training so important for Endurance Training?
In the last 8 years there has been a huge emphasis on adding core training in your program for endurance training… Take a look at some of the top endurance athletes across the world, I would say what makes a difference between the good and the really great is their ability to adapt their training and add functional and core sessions into their already packed training schedules. Slowly large cycling teams are catching on and hiring people like me to facilitate sports conditioning and core coaching for their athletes. And with the aid of therabands, rollers, balls etc. giving a massive variance of great core exercises to help you improve and advance your core.
A good understanding of your core and how your muscles function for the sport you do, and why they should be trained- is so important for injury treatment, prevention and for muscular growth.
So why work your Core?
Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal complaint in the developed world. A staggering 70%+ of people will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime. Developing a healthy, fit core is one of the best ways to prevent and treat lower back pain, lower limbs, your ITB and in the glutes your periformis and sciatic nerve, which in turn with the correct prevention will allow your body to be optimal for your sport, but if not treated injuries are immanent.
Our spines are injured when the physical demands placed on them exceed the stability of its joints. Joint stability is determined by a combination of inert structures, which is the shape of the bones and strength of the ligaments and the contractile structures which are the core muscles. focused core exercises, when done in a correct program or under the correct guidance, helps to thicken ligamentous structures and improve muscular function.
Performing any core exercise correctly is important. With the lack of continued learning, the fitness industry often misses the boat on helping people to train their core properly, they add one or two exercises as an add but don’t give it enough planned time or correct controlled focus within a session. Doing core exercise poorly not only inhibits prevention of injury but it can also add to slight injuries you might have.
Core strength has become a popular phrase thrown in the training mix, but adding strength to your core does not necessarily give you a better posture or spine. Most people have the strength they need to avoid injury, and have the sense to avoid lifting weights outside of their abilities but what they lack is good muscular endurance. Longer efforts in your sport require more planned Core strength session and for longer than a few minutes at a time, generally endurance sports because of the length of activity your body require the muscles that stabilise their spine to be able to provide consistent contraction for the duration of the activity. With this in mind, core strength sessions need should shift a focus toward longer exercises that involve many reps per set and circuit base to lift the intensity the same as the sport you are doing.
If you are a cross country mountain biker you need a lot more explosive strength exercises and a faster pace then someone say doing a 100 miler mountain bike race. Both need core strength training but their programs have to be individualised to their specific needs.
I believe that you should add core into all your specific exercises, and any exercise that targets your core is a great addition to your routine. Whether you are performing a lunge, push up, hyper extension for lower back you should try preform these exercises with ability to activated and target your core. Example: lunges off a Bosu ball, Push ups with one hand on a medicine ball or a push up on a roller and say a hyper extensions lying face down on the swiss ball and lifting up your torso.
Actually any form of exercise, running on the treadmill, your core is required to stabilize your spine against the forces you place on it. Being cognitive of this can give you the thought pattern to purposely take note of your posture and activate these muscles, producing a stable midsection when performing your exercise.
The best way to you improve your endurance and prevent any niggles or worse the serious injuries is too take focus and try change your workout, making it a core strength session.
Most common error I see with clients training that they think doing a plank is training your core. Correct to say it helps but training your core is not just holding a plank in one position for a duration of time. It is focusing on many different exercise from the top of your spine to the lower part of your feet. If you feel pressure in the joints of your lower back when you are doing any core exercise, chances are that you’re doing them wrong.
The principle of specificity is one of the guiding principles of functional training. It states that our physiological systems will get better at handing the exact demands placed upon them when exercising. This means that when we do the same exercise over and over again, our bodies get better at doing that exercise. For this reason we have to grow with a program and need have a wide variety of ways to work your core muscles by using different exercises, and to switch it up often. Reps/Sets and circuits. This will produce a well-rounded core strength, and will have massive effect in a positive way for your endurance sport.
Happy training! Remember to be consistent, keep it simple but structured, don’t just add “junk” training miles, focus on what needs to be done and I know the improvement in you training and races will be there.