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Are you looking for a better way to programme fully functional core exercises into your client programming? Aaron Barnett offers a way of expanding your core library, but also treats and trains the core the way it was designed to be moved. Improve your core training now!

Traditionally understood as the abdominals, we now realise that the core bridges across our entire being, connecting legs to hips, hips to torso, torso to arms and, therefore, legs to torso, hips to shoulders … and I could go on.

The core connects our movement and allows us to express ourselves in 3D. The core’s design enables us to move, stretch and reach in any and every direction efficiently, while limiting the risk for injury to the spine or other joints. By tweaking exercise programmes so that the core is loaded in 3D, we have the ability to train the entire core system, from the large global muscles and joints to the small, more targeted ones. We should look to move the core in sagittal, frontal and transverse directions in order to train the entire core.

By designing exercises that are more task/movement specific and are relatable to our clients’ lives, we give core exercises more purpose. By doing so, core exercises become behaviourally more inspiring to perform and easier for the client to adhere to. By task orientating our exercises, we don’t just support our clients in realising a more defined torso but we give our clients the gift of a free, functional and fun lifestyle.

Catching a frisbee overhead or swinging a racket at a wide ball requires us to stretch our core via our limbs. Not only that, it requires us to move our body fluidly in multiple directions. Core exercises that harness and control mass and momentum and load the core in order to explode and return to ‘normal’, mimic what happens in real life in a controlled and safe environment. Therefore, core exercises that focus on the stretch should be included in our programming.

By understanding gravity and its relationship with how we position our body, we can produce exercises in different positions and at different physical levels that will produce different core outcomes, allowing us to train the body to be able to harness more.

To truly train the core as it was designed, we should think about applying a stretch-to-shorten, otherwise known as a load-to-explode, principle and process of training. Traditionally, to train the rectus abdominis, we would lay supine, perpendicular to gravity, and focus on a shortening of the anterior trunk in order to train, tone and strengthen the muscles. Whereas with forward thinking and understanding, we now know that in order to load the ‘abs’, or in fact any other muscle or joint in the body, we should first seek to lengthen and load them. In order to lengthen the abdominals, we need to safely and effectively facilitate extension through the trunk. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to do when lying flat on the ground, since the floor gets in the way. However, if we begin in an upright position and extend the trunk either through the hands, arms and thoracic region, or through the feet, legs and pelvic region (or both), we can begin to load and train the ‘abs’ to activate in a way that is natural and authentic to our active lives.

Programming table for expansion

Every exercise has the ability to be tweaked and expressed in all three directions of motion, either as a single plane or through multiple planes. By tweaking exercises in all three directions, we expose and train a greater cross-section of tissue and gain better total-joint resilience.

By using this template programming table (based upon video demos), you can create combinations that keep core training fresh and progressive no matter the target audience. Better yet, you can begin to add to this table and continue to expand your core programming for a lifetime.

Shift Lift Carry Swing Drag Tilt Flip ?
Supine SFT
Kneeling SFT
Half kneeling SFT
Standing SFT
Balance SFT
Dynamic SFT
Prone ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

KEY: S = Sagittal / F = Frontal / T = Transverse

Core training video selection

Supine Dead Bug Shifts with Bar or Stick

Kneeling Leans with a Weighted Front-Loaded Carry and Half Kneeling Leave and Retrieves with Medicine Ball

Standing Multi-directional Swings with Kettle Bell and Balancing Reaches with Dumbbell Carry

Dynamic Steps, Skips and Jumps with ViPR Shifts


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Author Bio:

Aaron Barnett currently leads Fitness Practitioner at Peppy (Corporate Wellness) helping to support the moments that matter. In his previous life he was the Head of ViPR education for FitPro and managed the FitPro National Trainer team. As well as a successful PT and educator within his own rite Aaron believes that by learning, sharing and collaborating with the best in function this will serve ViPR Global in remaining the number one functional training tool!


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