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What is ‘Anti’ core training?

When thinking of core strength many of us often envisage a six-pack, which whilst looking aesthetically pleasing, may not necessarily translate to purposeful function in the athletic arena.

In this blog post adapted from Functional Training Anatomy we explore the core’s role in working as stabilisers and anti-movement muscles. We look at different core exercises and the movements they prevent rather than the movements they create.

Anti-core training

Functionally speaking, the core muscles work as stabilizers, or anti-movement muscles. Their purpose as it relates to human movement and sport is to buttress the spine, resisting against unwanted motion and assisting in the transfer of force between the upper and lower body.

Core muscles work primarily as isometric and eccentric controllers of motion rather than dynamic and concentric creators of motion.

The selected exercises below have been categorised based on the movements they prevent rather than those they create.

Anti-extension and anti-flexion exercises train the muscles that control sagittal plane movement of the spine, rib cage, and pelvis.

Anti-rotation exercises train the muscles that control transverse plane motion of the spine, rib cage, and pelvis.

Anti-lateral flexion exercises train the muscles that control frontal plane motion of the spine, rib cage, and pelvis.

Anti-rotation press-out

Execution

  1. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly flexed in front of a cable machine. Hold the handle to the cable attachment or band at chest height with both hands, one hand on top of the other.
  2. Press the handle straight out in front of you, extending both arms. Resist the pull of the band laterally, bracing your anterior core tight.
  3. Return the handle back toward your chest into the starting position. Repeat for the programmed repetitions.

Muscles involved:

Primary:

  • External oblique
  • Internal oblique
  • Multifidus
  • Rotatores
  • Transversus abdominis

Secondary:

  • Gluteus medius
  • Quadratus lumborum

Functional focus

The anti-rotation press-out is an isometric rotational exercise. This drill should be used to develop spinal stability and rotational trunk strength in both the reflexive spinal stabilizers (multifidus, transversus abdominis, rotatores) and the prime movers (rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques). During rotational activities the core muscles function less as a producer of motion and more as a transducer of force from the lower body to the upper body. The ability to brace the core and control rotation of the trunk allows you to effectively transfer force from the lower body to the upper body during activities like throwing, punching, striking, and swinging.

Half-kneeling cable lift

Execution

  1. Begin in a half-kneeling position with a cable machine or elastic band at your side next to the downside leg. On the kneeling side, dorsiflex the ankle and dig your toes into the ground. Grab the handles to the band or cable with both hands in front of the downside hip with your thumbs facing upward.
  2. Pull the handle upward to your chest. Press the handle upward and across your body, extending your arms fully. Lower the handle back down to the starting position, stopping to pause briefly at the chest position again on the way down.
  3. Perform the programmed number of repetitions and repeat on the opposite side.

Muscles involved:

Primary:

  • External oblique
  • Internal oblique
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius

Secondary:

  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Multifidus
  • Rotatores

Half-kneeling cable push-pull

Execution

  1. Start in a half-kneeling position between two cable machines or resistance bands. On the side where the knee is down, grab the handle that is behind you and position that wrist and forearm at your side next to your rib cage. On the side where the knee is up, grab the handle that is positioned in front of you and outstretch the arm in front of you.
  2. Simultaneously, push and pull the handles while resisting rotation at the trunk and keeping your shoulders square ahead.
  3. Repeat for the programmed repetitions before switching arms and legs and repeating on the opposite side.

Muscles involved:

Primary:

  • Internal oblique
  • External oblique
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Multifidus
  • Transverse abdominis

Secondary:

  • Gluteus medius
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Anterior deltoid
  • Triceps brachii
  • Latissimus dorsi

Functional focus

The half-kneeling cable push-pull is used to develop sagittal and transverse plane stability in the trunk and frontal plane stability in the hips. This drill recreates the torque and stability demands that must be buffered during running. To effectively maintain posture and transfer force down into the ground during gait, you must stabilize rotational forces at the trunk while simultaneously stabilizing the hip and pelvis in the frontal plane. During the push-pull, the focus is to resist the rotational forces of the pushing and pulling motion while keeping the femur and pelvis stacked under the torso in the frontal plane.


Functional Training Anatomy book cover

Adapted from:

Functional Training Anatomy

Kevin Carr and Mary Kate Feit

Related titles

strength training anatomy for athletes
bodyweight strength training anatomy
high-performance nutrition for masters athletes

Header photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

This entry was posted in: Fitness & Health

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