Category Archives: core training

5 steps to creating the perfect core workout program

The reason for posting this is that the core is the link between the lower and upper body. If it’s a weak link, performance will suffer despite any other training. Think swimming – what turns your chest on edge while breathing and back again, your core. Running, what stabilizes your back, your core. It’s important and should not be overlooked.

This excerpt is from the book, Delavier’s Core Training Anatomy. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics. Purchase this book from Human Kinetics and help keep in business!

Set your goals.

The very first step in creating your core workout program is to be specific when defining your goals. Are you working out for these reasons?

  • To get a six-pack
  • To get a slimmer waist
  • To maintain your cardiovascular health
  • and fitness
  • To increase your athletic performance

Often, your goals may be a combination of several of the items listed. However, if you do not define your goals well, it will be difficult to establish an optimal program. Write down your goals on paper so that you can read them before every workout.

Then, you need to quantify your goals. For example, I want to

  • be able to see my abs in 3 months,
  • lose 2 inches off my waist in 2 months, and
  • double the number of sets I can do in 10 minutes to increase my endurance within 15 days.

The time frame and amount of progress for your goals must be realistic. Keep in mind that no one ever progresses as fast as desired. You might often feel that you have hit a plateau. But with a good program, a true plateau is rare. By quantifying your goals and creating monthly milestones, you will more easily be able to gauge your progress. Each step you achieve will serve as motivation to continue exercising. We provide some typical programs in Continue reading

Stretching for triathlon

As any athlete knows, stretching is a very important component of a training regimen. There are a few well-regarded thoughts on stretching.

First – always warm up before stretching. My PT gave this example – imagine putting a rubber band in the freezer for a while and another one under warm running water. Which do you think will stretch more and stretch easier without breaking? The one that has been in warm water, of course. You do not have to run several miles to warm up enough to stretch but even walking a little bit until you feel your body more active. Your body will thank you with fewer injuries. Stretching cold is putting more stress on muscles that are not ready for it and are likely to create a circumstance where injury can occur.

Second – Understand that a long lean muscle that has been trained and stretched through its range of motion and can used through its range of motion is more useful and efficient than a shortened tight one.

Third – have a stretch routine. In triathlon, you use many parts of your entire body – core, shoulders, arms, hips, neck, legs, and feet – so have a routine that stretches them. Remember, you can use compound stretching which are movements that stretch more than one muscle at the same time, thus saving you time.

Fourth – My physical therapist tells me I should hold a stretch for 30 seconds or longer for it to have lasting benefit.

Stretching has been a huge part of my rehab from injuries. My PT tells me I have very tight hips. I try to work on that consistently. It amazes me that muscles “over here” can play a significant role with injuries or tightness “over there.” Learning the intricacies of of how muscles work together has been a fascinating study for me. If I were younger, I would probably go to graduate school for further study.

Toward that end, I have tried to find books that help me with stretching. A lot of people recommend Bob Anderson’s stretching book and I found it useful. However, I have just found, “Stretching Anatomy” by Human Kinetics, who pride themselves on having high quality, well-researched and reviewed, scientifically sound books.

What I found particularly useful was:

  • Several pages per section of the body and how the muscles relate and move
  • Numerous high-quality illustrated pages of stretching movements with detailed
    instructions, which muscles are stretched more and some less, and variations as you progress
  • A recommended stretching program from beginners to advanced

Here’s a sample image:
Sample Page

Here’s a link to a few sample pages:

No one likes down-time due to injury, being away from their sport. So, enjoy stretching and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Core training for triathlon: Part 1

In the last 3 years in particular, I have been working on my core strength and stretching. It helped my back problems, rehab after back surgery, swimming and stability. The core is the connector between your upper and lower body and should be thought of as a vital link for triathlon.

When you run, you swing your arms to counter to your leg movement. In the middle is the core. If you get out of your saddle while cycling, your hands grasp the handlebars while feet are in the pedals. The middle link is the core. The link between your stroke and your kick while swimming is your core.

As I increased my core strength, I noticed simple functional things in daily life also got easier like bending over, getting up and good posture. These make so much more of a difference now than when I was 18 years old.

Hopefully, you can see that core strength can be important to daily life as well as triathlon.

I used little else besides a physio ball,my body weight and the occasional medicine ball. There are a number of books available but from the ones I have read, I recommend these two:

1: Complete Book of Core Training
2: The Core Performance

“The Core Performance” has many exercises I do and it has training regimens for several different levels of athletes. I view the “Complete Book of Core Training” as successfully trying to be just that. It has many many pages of different core exercises with different variations to try.

Don’t forget to check out the short videos on Resources/Core page as well.