A majority of strength training professionals have their fair share of core exercises that they would not think twice about using in an athletes program. The core is believed to play an integral role in the body's ability to generate, transfer, and absorb external forces. Athlete's undergo many external stressors during training and competition, and must have a strong "link" (the core), to keep the body functioning as a unit, or so we have thought.
What research has shown
- Core strength has no-to-moderate relationships with performance variables, such as a 1RM squat, T-test, 40 yd dash, etc.
- The training effect of core programs has shown no to significant improvements in performance. The measurements of performance range from elite rowers, to 5k runners, to running economy improvements.
- Core strength has demonstrated a strong relationship with injury prevention and reducing back pain.
The core may play a role in sport performance, but the research is inconclusive. For this reason, using excessive amounts of time (>10 min, 3 days a week) on core training may prove to be counterproductive when looking to enhance an athletes performance.
Because core strength has shown to be important in injury prevention, it does warrant attention. Implement core training during an athlete's rest period of their strength training regimen. This way, the athlete recovers from their performed set, but also can complete injury prevention core exercises. (This may be more practical during strength/power microcycles, since the rest periods will range from 2-5 minutes.) This benefits both the coach and athlete by allowing more time to be spent on gamep-plans, scouting reports, conditioning, or recovery.
Anton Snyder, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Human Performance Graduate Student at UW-La Crosse
Personal Trainer at Snap Fitness