Monday, January 26, 2009

"Core" Training

OK, so what the hell is up with this phenomenon of "functional" or "core" training using some stupid Bosu or swiss ball?! Tony Blauer talked about this a bit on Episode 24 of CrossFit Radio. To paraphrase, "You'll never be in a death match while balancing on a swiss ball." Although he is talking about his area of expertise, fighting, I think that it is a valid point for every athlete...well, until they finally give in to the masses and have some Uber-Swiss Ball Championship on ESPN 8 - The Ocho.

In the picture above, judging by his build, I'm going to assume that he is some form of endurance athlete. Can someone please tell me how this exercise helps said athlete do ANYTHING better...other than lifting pink dumbells (yes, I realize that they aren't pink, but they might as well be) while standing on a Bosu ball? Why not have him deadlift or squat? Whenever someone asks me if I think they should do ______ exercise on a swiss ball for "core strength," I immediately ask them how much they deadlift. After they're finished stammering some weak sauce excuse about a bad back, I inform them that they should do Bosu training ONLY after pulling 400 lbs off the ground.

If your back is weak and core strength is a problem area for you, then there is no need for some new fangled exercise that you read in this month's Shape magazine. Instead, find something heavy, and LIFT IT!


Anonymous said...

I think training like that helps factors like balance more than anything and being strong on your feet is always a plus. Also lifting 400 pounds is great and all but no offense, no one really cares, people have different goals and that guy probally could not care less if you can lift 400 pounds of the ground because he can balance on one leg and you cant.

Alex said...

While there are some balance benefits to training in that manner, that does not change the fact that he is doing the exercise for "core strength." If he wants to train for balance, that's great - it's an important component of fitness! However, when "personal trainers" mislead their clients to believe that this is a "core strengthening" exercise, they are not only doing a disservice to their clientele, but are bordering on negligent.

My post has nothing to do with my abilities, and although 400 lbs is an arbitrary number, the point is that by the time said athlete actually starts to become proficient in the deadlift, he will have a much better grasp on what the term "core strength" really means.

Just to help [i]you[/i] out, core strength is the ability of the musculature that surrounds the spine to maintain proper anatomic position of the spine while under load. The weight that he is holding is NOT enough of a load to improve his core strength. This can only be done by picking up and squatting heavy things. Does this have a place in an endurance runner's training regimen? One word: YES!