The first sentence of the CrossFit Foundations literature states it:
“CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program.” (CrossFit, 2002)
Ok, ok, so it’s not really a secret if you do a little digging, but this foundational idea is often brushed aside in the pursuit of higher-order compound movements (think snatch, mucle-ups, even pullups and wallballs). 6 minute abs? Exercise mumbo-jumbo? Far from it.
Let us do a little experiment. I am assuming you are sitting down at the moment, so if you aren’t go ahead and take a seat. Turn your hips, lower back, and belly muscles completely off. Make sure any tension you felt is completely released, and you feel like you could melt into a puddle on the floor. Now, try to stand up.
What happened? Not much I’m betting.
Now, I want you to engage your hips and lower back, flex those abs by pulling your belly button to your spine and try again. What happened? You stood up!
Not only were you unable to stand up when you were disengaged, but you also proved that even the simplest movements in our everyday lives are completely dependent on the engagement of our CORE! As the level of difficulty of any given movement increases, we are increasingly using/relying on core muscles! When you stood up, you moved the energy from “core to extremity.” In other words, the energy moved from your core to your legs, which allowed you to stand up. Consider a baseball pitcher who is winding up…he must brace his core before he is able to utilize the strength in his hips and legs, which then transfers to his arm for a maximum output of energy.
It is time to change the way you are thinking about your movement. Rather than assuming your core is automatically at work, it is vital that you create a foundation for that movement to be rooted from. Stop thinking so much about what your arms or legs are doing, and focus on the foundation of it all… your CORE. When you hear coaches shouting, ”tight core,” “steel spine,” “global positioning,” or “hollow/arch” you should automatically know to engage your core and utilize it for the sake of the movement you are trying to complete.
Take this idea into the gym, focus on your core before you even begin a movement, and let me know what happens!
Let’s get after it!!
-4 min Tabata Hollow Position Hold
(Lying flat on the ground with your arms over your head and legs zipped together, engage your upper abdominal muscles as if someone was about to step your belly, this should raise your shoulders off the ground an inch or two. Once set, begin to raise your zipped together legs until they are off of the ground. Hold for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds.