The Core Stiffness Revolution

Isometric core exercises are superior to traditional dynamic exercises for building core muscles because they develop core stiffness and spinal stability. Core stiffness is vital for athletes because it strengthens core muscles and improves endurance, reduces low back pain and boosts sports performance. Greater core stiffness transfers strength and speed to the limbs, increases the load-bearing capacity of the spine and protects the internal organs during sports movements. A series of studies directed by Stuart McGill from the University of Waterloo in Canada showed that isometric exercises for the core resulted in greater core stiffness than whole-body, dynamic exercises that activated core muscles. An excellent article by Natasha Mendrin from California State University, Fullerton described a progression for static core exercises for beginner to advanced athletes. Exercises included progressions for front and side planks, TRX mountain climbers, wheel rollouts, dead bugs, body saws, body blades, carry exercises, landmines, bird-dogs, around-the-worlds (kettlebell), one- and two-arm push-ups, cable chops, cable lifts and bear craws. Core stiffness training will change the way athletes build core and abdominal muscles. (Strength Conditioning Journal, 38(4): 50-65, 2016)

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