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Vertical Core Training: Part 2 by Chris Kelly

by Guest Contributor posted June 1, 2010

If you missed the first part of this post, you can read about the concept of vertical core training here, along with the ways we effectively teach the abdominal brace. After this is accomplished, the possibilities for core training can truly take a new twist. 


From muscles to movements

In the past, our approach to building torso strength and stability was to pair a low-rep core strength exercise with two stability exercises incorporating the upper and lower extremities. An example would look something like this:

  1. Straight leg sit up: 3 x 5
  2. Plank to push up: 3 x 10
  3. Plank w/ leg out: 3 x 10

While this approach worked well in targeting certain areas of the stomach, we still remained limited to what was essentially a “bodypart” split that focused on one area of the stomach at a time. This type of circuit may be beneficial to bodybuilders or advanced figure competitors, but I wanted a method to train coordination of these muscles together with minimal stress to the spine.

Enter vertical core training. Because this type of training occurs in an unsupported environment (standing), all areas of the stomach must react to stabilize against 3D movement. After progressing from static movements like planks and side planks, we use this type of training as a great way to integrate muscles of the trunk to generate core stability.

With this in mind, we have moved to classifying our circuits based on the direction of movement versus the muscles worked. This is an ever-evolving process, but included below are a few of my favorite circuits we currently utilize with our figure competitors and athletes:

Training Guidelines

– Perform eight reps of each exercise and add two per week for four weeks.

– Perform each exercise back-to-back three times.

– Throughout each exercise, attempt to keep the stomach contracted. If you lose this contraction, pause and reinitiate it before resuming the exercise.

1. Saggital plane circuit example

– Stir the pot (progress by adding more directions)

– Knee tucks

– 3-way dumbbell or plate perturbation



2. Frontal plane circuit example:

– Side plank pulse

– Side plank w/row

– 3-way Paloff perturbation



3. Transverse circuit example:

– Plank w/rotation

– Step-downs

– Dumbbell uppercuts

Chris Kelly is Owner and President of Peak Fitness in Lakeland, Florida. For more training tips from Chris, visit his blog here.

Filed under: exercise instruction

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