10 Mistakes to Avoid With Core Training
Getting a strong core is important for strength and overall quality of life. Getting abs, on the other hand, is definitely more important.
So since we all want toned abs, you've probably put in a lot of work, right?
Related - How to Build Your Own Workout
Since I know how much it sucks to put so much work into something to get no progress, I wanted to write an article on getting a stronger core and 10 things that you really should watch out when you are training your core.
Popular Core Training Mistakes
1.) You Are Doing Too Much Bending
If you like to do crunches and sit-ups, you are generating too much flexion and bending at your core.
While doing these exercises are not bad, keeping your midsection stable and straight will improve posture and help you use your core as it was intended.
Instead of thinking crunches and sit-ups, try some exercises that your core has to resist bending.
These can include:
You know that the stronger and more muscle that your core has, the more prominent your abs will be. This is why people who are thin but have no muscle look skinny-fat with no definition.
Build that muscle up and start seeing some progress.
2.) You Are Twisting Too Much
Just like bending, twisting is another movement that we weren't necessarily designed to do.
Our core actually is there to help resist training - it tries to keep your spine safe.
So, instead of blindly following the person beside you for guidance on building a stronger core, avoid heavy twisting exercises.
Instead, brace your core and keep it in a neutral posture. Work on exercises that you resist the twisting forces.
Exercises that resist twisting forces include:
- Anti-Rotational Chops
- Single-Arm Carries
- Paloff Presses
Remember that our core is designed to resist twisting. I'm not saying you aren't supposed to do any twisting when training your core - but you're supposed to resist it, not just swivel around.
3.) You Only Focus on Getting That Six Pack
When people want a six pack, they actually want to grow and show off their rectus abdominis.
There's a lot more to your core than this.
So when you are looking to get a chiseled midsection, you need to also work on your external and internal obliques with twist-resisting movements. Your pelvic floor and transverse abdominus are your deeper core muscles - and they need to be trained, too.
Focusing on all muscles involved in your core will give you the complete package. You'll have the power production, the strength to maintain a tight core, and you'll be able to safely lift heavy weights with great form.
4.) You Just Aren't Doing the Form Right
The key to training any muscle is to do quality exercises correctly. With our core, positioning and posture play a huge role.
This allows us to target the correct muscles instead of relying on muscles we didn't intend on working.
So next time you see someone sagging their back during a plank or even sticking their ribcage out, they are cheating themselves of core work. What they are doing is turning off their abs and shifting all of the emphasis on the lumbar spine.
Always use correct form and posture if you want to make progress with your core. Keep your lower back flat, your pelvis neutral, and your rib cage down.
I invite you to practice flexing your core and gaining control over your core muscles. This will ensure you are properly training your core.
5.) You Are Not Breathing Right
Just like doing heavy compound lifts, there is a breathing aspect in core training that you need to be aware of.
Adding a controlled inhale and exhale at the top of every core exercise will help you breathe through your diaphragm instead of your chest and shoulders.
You want a deep belly inhale, similar to pre-loading your lifting weight belt before a squat or deadlift.
6.) You Hit the Same Angle Every Time
Your core is designed to transfer force and energy in a variety of angles.
Planks and rollouts are great exercises that train your sagittal plane, but side to side, diagonal, and anti-rotation are all exercises you need to be doing.
Make sure to hit your core from all angles, kind of like bros do with their biceps.
Simply adding side planks and chops to your current ab training will start putting you closer to your core goals.
7.) You Eat Like Crap
The term "abs are made in the kitchen" is true. It doesn't matter how strong your core is - if you are fat, you won't see your abs.
Take me for example, I deadlift 605 and squat 550 beltless. I have absolutely no issue with core strength, but since I'm fat, you can't even tell.
You need to start eating better and getting some of that extra body fat off if you'd like to have visible abs. It's as simple as that.
Start writing down what you eat and start making slow, mindful choices to make better nutritional choices.
Starting out with quality lean proteins, veggies, root vegetables, and whole carbohydrates will start improving performance and burning body fat.
8.) You Think Directly Training Your Core is the Only Way to Train
I don't know if you know this, but doing ab work when you are fat really sucks. My core strength was solely built on doing heavy compound lifts correctly.
So if having a strong core is something you are looking to have, start using big compound lifts like deadlifts, overhead presses, and squats. These exercises train your whole body, help you develop a powerful core, and the hormonal response from performing these exercises force your body to grow more muscle.
9.) You Aren't Increasing Your Intensity
Have you ever heard of diminishing returns? Basically, there comes a point where doing an exercise for longer just doesn't yield the same benefits as if you were to increase the intensity.
How long can you hold a plank for? If you answer anything more than 1 minute, it's time to start challenging yourself instead of holding it for longer.
Adding different tools such as stability balls, ab wheels, or doing weighted core exercises are all ways that you can up the intensity.
10.) You Train Your Core Every Day
Your core is a group of muscles - they still need time to recover and get stronger.
Training your core isn't too draining, unlike heavy deadlifts... so we can do them daily, right? If you train your abs daily, they are going to struggle to recover.
Take a day or two off throughout the week to give your core the time it needs to rebuild muscle fibers and adapt to the stress.
You can get a great core from training three to four times per week, depending on the intensity.