Guy plays one game and gets a sports hernia. All things considered, we’re 2-0 and that’s the only stat that matters. Anyway…
I find that core seems to be an afterthought in many programs. Not because it’s not worth the time. But because squats and deadlifts give you all the core work you need. Or because you only have 45 minutes to work out and you need to make sure you hit your biceps. Or because core exercises aren’t sexy. Or worse, because they’re hard. (L-sits, anybody?)
Even as a trainer, I sometimes find myself throwing core in as the third or fourth exercise in a set/circuit. Not because it’s not important, but because I never view it as the most important.
But it is the most important.
If your core isn’t strong, you cannot possibly transmit any type of force through your extremities. Think about squatting, but instead of a core, your middle is made up of layers of overcooked lasagna noodles.
Many times, we’re reluctant to throw core in as the first exercise in a session, with the exception being for activation purposes. If you wreck your core before your deadlifts, what kind of weight are you going to be able to deadlift? It would be like pre-exhausting the legs with single-leg movements, except that pre-exhausting the legs actually makes exercises safer.
In any case, core needs to be a (wait for it) core piece of your programming. Anti-extension, anti-flexion, anti-lateral flexion/extension, rotational work. It should all be there in somehow.
If your core is lacking, try using the functional trainer to address anti-extension of the spine.
Throw the FT’s arms up to the inside, as high as they go, and throw the double-arm lat pulldown/bar attachment on them.
From there, face away from the functional trainer and hold the bar out at arms length, with a 90-degree arm-to-torso angle. You should be almost upright at this point.
You don’t need much weight on this exercise. Even 15-20 lbs will be enough to get the anterior core going.
Slowly allow the bar to move up, in front of your forehead and eventually above your head. You’ll feel your core engage. Imagine doing a TRX fallout, but only the cables are moving instead of your entire body.
Simply holding the cables out at arms’ length can be a challenge to the core with enough weight on the stacks. At the same time, holding the cables at arms’ length with a light weight can be a good regression from a plank or reverse crunch.
A few things to keep in mind with this exercise:
- Keep the weight light at first, you’ll be humbled by how hard the fallouts can be with a seemingly light weight.
- Keep the cables at arms’ length. Allowing flexion of the elbows turns the exercise into an isometric extension and takes the focus off of the core.
- By the same token, don’t hyperextend the elbows to stabilize the bar.
- You can keep exercises fresh and new by using the individual cables instead of the bar, taking a single arm alternating approach.
Fallouts on the functional trainer can be a good way to regress common anterior core exercises, but can also provide a new, fresh challenge if you’re already strong. Give them a try and see for yourself.
Oh, and don’t worry. The Patriots rookies will be fine in a few weeks. And Amendola and Gronk will be back soon. And our coach is Bill Belichick. I bet they’re all doing fallouts on the functional trainer as we speak.