A different core work out that will help you see better results.
Everyone wants to talk about “functional core training” but most people have no idea what it is, and no idea how to integrate it into their training. First let me say this, there is nothing functional about sitting or lying on a stability ball, or standing on a balance board swinging five pound dumbbells around, unless of course you’re going into the circus. The recent push for developing functional core strength has been training your body to be able to handle an external load while moving, or even more importantly, resisting excess movement. Some people have dubbed this type of training, “anti-rotary stability.” I like that term because it’s really what we want; we want to move our hips and/or arms without moving our lower back.
There is a vast array of exercises you can use for this type of training, but I’m going to break down four different movements that will give you the strong, stable midsection you’re looking for. They include: farmer walks, overhead walks, rack walks and bear hug walks. These simple, yet functional, movements will help you keep yourself stable while moving. Plus they’re kick ass exercises that you’ll love.
1. Farmer’s Walks
Farmer walks have been utilized by strongman competitors for years. Quite simply, you pick up some heavy stuff and walk for a given distance carrying it in your hands. The key to these is to stabilize the weight, and keeping your posture upright. This not only helps with the success of the movement, but also improves the training effect of the exercise. Any exercise that, in using proper posture, allows you to move more weight is a good one in my book. To change it up you can carry an implement in one hand (suitcase carry). This is a great exercise that all of my athletes use.
2. Overhead walks
Overhead walks are simply that. Put something over your head and take a walk. Great for stability all the way through the posterior chain and can be altered the same way as the farmer’s walk. We’ve used plates, sand bags, a barbell and kettlebells for these. They’re fantastic, but do the world a favor; know how high the ceiling is before you start putting stuff over your head.
3. Rack Walks
The rack walk is done best with kettlebells. Put them in the “rack” position (elbows down and in and the kettlebells right in the middle of your chest). Your fingers should almost be touching while you are in this position. Just like with the others, start walking. Just like the two above, you can change this by carrying only one bell to make the movement a bit more challenging. These are great, and you’ll have no choice but to puff out your chest while you hold this position.
4. Bear hug walks
Bear hug walks by definition are awesome. You pick up something big in a bear hug and walk with it. You can use anything, and I mean anything. We’ve used sandbags, heavy bags, people, you name it. These are great for not just your core, but for your upper back as well. I love these and have used them quite a bit with my kids here. A warning though, if you’re using something big enough that it impedes your vision, make sure someone is there to let you
know if anything or anyone gets in the way.
Now, if you want to go really crazy, and I mean Jay DeMayo crazy, you can mix and match. Obviously the bear hug is a bit difficult to mix with, but you can go with one hand farmer with the other over head, or one rack with the other over head, so on and so forth. The only thing limiting you is your imagination, which I’m sure you have mastered with all the time you spend playing World of War Craft, and watching Harry Potter.
So get your butt off the ground, the ball, or the wobble board and start carrying stuff. If you have a training partner challenge him or her to carry something heavier, longer, or both. These are awesome, and everyone wants to be awesome. So pick up something heavy and go take a walk.