Why Focus on the Torso / Core?
By: Jeff Paluseo
When you work out, why should you focus on the torso/core (also called T/C)? You should focus on this area because it is the link between your upper-body strength and your lower body strength. Unfortunately this area is often trained in an uninspired and unintelligent way. This training is often thrown in as an afterthought, usually at the end of a workout. In the past very little time energy was put into the development of proper programs for the torso. If there is a core program at all it generally consists of flexion-extension exercises for the Rectus Abdominis muscles; using exercises like crunches or sit-ups without really addressing the need for stability and the powerful link between the lower body to the upper body. Unfortunately for many athletes’ T/C training is done poorly, primarily because it has always been allowed to be completed poorly.
Ask yourself this question; how many times in a baseball game does a player make a move that looks like a sit-up or crunch? The answer is very few times if any, baseball is all aboutstabilization and rotation.
Here is a question that I get asked a lot about this training, “when should I complete my T/C training, at the beginning or the end of my exercise program?” Well those who prescribe the this training at the end generally cite the reason of fatiguing the muscles as important to stability before the workout. I personally recommend completing it at the beginning of your strength program so it will not be viewed as unnecessary. By putting the T/C program at the beginning of the workout establishes the torso as a key area for sports training. The torso should be made a priority, and all T/C work for abs, oblique’s and so on (except some of the exercises that involve the spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings) should be done at the beginning of the workout. My athletes are not (and I recommend this to all coaches) allowed to touch a weight until their T/C work is completed.
I will agree with the fact that this training is not fun, these exercises will not look good in the mirror like the bench or the curls for the girls, but T/C training is one of the keycomponents in injury reduction and improved performance. For those who love to train their torso / core every day, they are more concern with ripped abs than their performance; but the kicker there is that a strong torso / core has nothing to do with low body fat percentage. Ripped abs are a result of diet not T/C work. Train your T/C muscles to help you throw harder and swing more powerfully and lastly to stay healthier longer.
With everything that I have laid out for you about T/C training, why do you think I see so many coaches having their ball players doing sit-ups and crunches? I can tell you this, my athletes will not be completing those moves; and if your ball player is doing those exercises, then take a closer look at their program. It may help them be better ball players.
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Jeff Paluseo is the owner and director of Sports Fitness Solutions and Sports-fitness-Solutions.com. He is also the head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Corpus Christi Ice Rays Professional Hockey Team and has worked as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Houston Astros AA Baseball affiliate in Corpus Christi, as well as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Division ITexas A&M University at Corpus Christi. For more strength and conditioning information, please contact him at www.sports-fitness-solutions.com o