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To Improve All-Round Strength, Start At The Core

Personal Trainers in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town - TO IMPROVE ALL-ROUND STRENGTH, START AT THE CORE

Your core forms the basis of total body strength. Here’s why it’s vital to have good core strength to get the most out of your workout!

We tend to think of a rippling six pack when we consider great core strength. But while it looks good, this toned outer layer of abdominal musculature isn’t the same as a strong core.

You use your core muscles all day, every day, not only when doing specific ab exercises. This is why these exercises are so important, because whether you’re walking, standing, balancing or reaching, the muscles of your midsection are firing to keep you stable and supported.

 

How a strong core benefits everyday life

Your biokineticist will explain that your core is a group of muscles that stabilises and controls the pelvis and spine, thereby influencing the legs and upper body.

A strong core can often prevent overuse injuries, and can help boost resiliency and ease of rehab from acute injury.

Core strength is about the subtleties of being able to maintain the body in ideal postures – to unload the joints and promote ease of movement.
This helps maintain the ability to get on and off the floor, get up from a chair, sit comfortably at a desk, or do household tasks, like vacuuming, without pain.

For athletes, it promotes more efficient movement, preventing injury and improving performance.

 

The 7 Primary Natural Strength Movements

The 7 primary natural strength movements and lifts that the human body performs well are:

  • Horizontal Push – Pressing/pushing a weight away from the torso. An example of a horizontal push movement is the bench press.
  • Horizontal Pull – Pulling/rowing a weight towards the torso. An example of a horizontal pull movement is the bent over barbell row.
  • Vertical Push – Pushing/pressing a weight overhead, away from the body. An example of a vertical push movement is the military press.
  • Vertical Pull – Pulling a weight towards the torso from overhead. An example of a vertical pull movement is the pull up or lat pull down.
  • Squat – bending at the hips and knees while keeping a semi-upright torso, as if reaching for something on the ground before you. An example of a squat movement is the barbell squat.
  • Lift From Ground – Lifting an object off the ground from a position of maximal leverage (bent knees and hips). An example of this movement is the barbell deadlift.
  • Carry – Holding an object in one or both hands and walking and/or running. An example of a carry is a yolk or farmer’s walk.

 

The Primary Strength Building Exercises

These lifts are all variations of the 7 primary natural movements.

  • Squat and front squat.
  • Bench press and close grip bench press.
  • Military press and push press.
  • Deadlift and Romanian deadlift.
  • Barbell and dumbbell rows.
  • Power cleans and Olympic lift variations.

There are also several other exercises that can be very beneficial to the novice trainee looking to rapidly build strength:

  • Pull ups (palms away from the body, wider grip)
  • Chin ups (palms facing the body, narrow grip)
  • Dips
  • Planks
  • Weighted abdominal exercises such as weighted sit ups and cable crossovers
  • Glute/ham raise
  • Good morning
  • Side bends
  • Farmer’s walk

 

Here’s what you need to remember: there is no magic system. The key to making rapid, consistent progress comes from following these essential rules:

  • Stay Persistent – Stop making excuses and missing workouts. If you want to improve your strength, you need to make it to the gym week in and week out.
  • Stay Basic – Stay with a basic program. Simplicity works well. Training evolution, or complexity, is something you will need in the future – but not now. Get strong on the basics. Most popular strength building systems feature a minimalistic structure using the same effective strength building movements.
  • Don’t Under-eat – To maximise your efforts in the gym, you must also make sure you are eating properly. Under-eating, or eating too much junk food, can greatly inhibit progress.
  • Make a Plan – You can’t enter the gym without a goal. Plan and know when and how you will add weight to the bar. A strength building training system requires a progression plan. No workout should be random or without a specific goal.

 

Do I Need a Belt?

Here are some pros and cons to wearing a lifting belt:

  • Pro – A lifting belt can help support your spine.
  • Pro – A lifting belt allows many experienced strength athletes to squat and deadlift more weight, maximising training sessions.
  • Pro – A lifting belt can provide confidence.
  • Con – A lifting belt can cause slight changes to your lifting form. When first using a belt, don’t rush into using it with a heavy weight. Work on your form with a belt using a lighter weight first.
  • Con – A lifting belt that is cinched too tightly may restrict blood flow and/or cause changes in blood pressure.

 

The Role of the Central Nervous System

While it is the role of muscle tissue to move or lift heavy weights, the central nervous system (CNS) also plays a vital role in the process. The CNS acts in many ways like a power source—as it is awakened, you will start to recruit more and more muscle fibers into play.

This is one of the reasons why a proper warmup protocol is required before heavy training. If you attempt to lift a heavy weight before “waking up the CNS,” you will be trying to move this iron using fewer muscle fibers. The result will be a great strain on the joints and connective tissue, and a greater chance of injury.

The power of the CNS can be tested following any heavy training session. After your heavy work is completed, try dropping the weight on the bar by 25% and performing a set. This set will feel unbelievably light simply because your central nervous system is fully engaged, recruiting maximal amounts of muscle tissue.

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The new Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act Regulations are effective from 1 July. This means we need your consent to receive our direct marketing material. No spam, we promise! When you opt in, you’ll receive our newsletters, latest articles, product and service promotional material and be the first to know about awesome competitions. You can learn more about how your personal information is processed by reading our Privacy Policy and managing your privacy settings. Privacy Policy.