Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Core - continued...

Gentlemen - i hope you don't mind me bringing this out to another blog post but I think this is certainly important enough to continue here...

Franz - Thank you for the info and the article reference...

And Thank you Keats for dropping by and adding to the discussion...
Keats Snideman CSCS, LMT, NMT said...
Hey Franz, thanks for the plug for the article I wrote!

I think most coaches in the know are probably saying the same thing; the primary torque/strenth producers are the hips/thighs. The lower back and trunk should only serve as a conduit for transfering force through to the extremities.

Some mobility and light strengthening exercise should be performed for maintaining adequate lumbar rotation however. Since rotation is very important to specific life and sporting situations, it is better to focus on teaching people to twist through the thoracic spine, as this is where rotation occurs much more easily.

Geoff Neupert said...
Brett--I think I need to clarify even further: since load can be velocity dominant or force dominant, the context in which I was speaking was force dominant. Of course the spine--all of it, must be able to move under the load of velocity and still protect the spinal cord. Failing to train the body to handle these movements is setting up for an injury.

That being said, mobility work should be trained first then loaded either through velocity or load second.

I find myself working very basic core activation and timing drills with my clients and cueing Long Spine and that is where most of my perspective is coming from as far as basic "core" issues.
Ensuring optimal mobility and optimal stability is the ultimate goal and must be determined by the goal activities and stresses that the individual will be facing. So once the basics (mobility and bracing) are dialed in - then attack the movements and demands specific to the goals (force and/or velocity).

And Keats' points about thoracic spine rotation are key as most see the t-spine as an immobile area. As Geoff said - the spine - all of it - must be able to move under both stresses. And it must produce the segmental stability to protect.

BTW - Sounds like you had a great time at the Z health seminar.

I break it down between - Core Activation, Core Timing, and then get to Core "training" (overhead work anyone??, planks, roll-outs etc...). Comments....


Rick & The Family! said...


I am 9 meals in the bucket, trained at 6 am, and just got home from work at 9:30 pm and put 20 minutes on the treadclimber...

Your post made no sense to me at all. I just want to lift heavy shit, so I will stick to my reverse hypers, supermans, and standing abs for 'core' work...


Franz Snideman said...

I think the major points of been addressed by all three of you (Brett, Geoff and Keats). However I do think that there is some merit in learning how to do round back lifting, as in lifting a heavy stone off the groun or a heavy medicine ball. Now let me preface this by saying that most people have no business training round back style if they cannot even maintain long spine, or even hold a lordosis. The fact is that alot of people do not know or have been taught how to bend at the hips and keep long spine.

the question is when is it safe to progress into some round back lifting? Thoughts?

Keats Snideman CSCS, CK-FMS, LMT said...

Franz, you're starting to tread into "imperfection training" territory which is a key topic to optimum performance in sport and life.

In a Mel Siff video I have from a former SWIS conference in Canada, Mel poses the following question:

how often in a sporting situation are you in an ideal position (i.e. long spine, neutral posture, etc...)?

He rasies a good point. However, it's easy to get carried away to the point of injury with the imperfection training concept.

For example, if JimBob sits all day at work in a slumped position and then shows up for his 5 PM strength session, he's probably already experiencing some ligamentous and disc "creep" and thus, possibly some segmental instability in his lumbar spine.

For him, a roundback lift might not be such a good idea. But if he slowly progressed up to something like stone lifting his body might succesfully and safely adapt to it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have to make decisions like that on an individual basis and can't make any blanket statements that apply to every person all the time.

Jim Ryan said...

Great conversation guys!
I agree with you Geoff, Brett, Franz, Keats. Thanks for the insights.

I'm thinking it would be very difficult to make more broad (and still safe) recommendations about when to progress from ideal alignment, long spine type moves to the more 'poisonous' ones than the snidemans did, but is worth exploring for many if their work, sport or life demands such situations more than once in a blue moon - heck and maybe even then too.

Reminds me of an old saying I learned studying Aikido: 'Enter through form, exit from form'.

Only when you really have a solid grasp of the fundamentals is it wise to move off into variations.

To me that says working with a trainer to evaluate where you are at before moving off center so to speak, would be a wise choice.

Jim Ryan said...

Another thought on CORE:

The way I see it, core muscles are stabilizing muscles. They hold everything where it needs to be while the prime movers are gettin' the job done. In most cases that means deep muscles be they in the torso, pelvis or shoulder - so the rotator cuff would also be core musculature.

Also, in any complex move a prime mover that may be performing a static role could be looked at as a temporary 'core' muscle.


Fuzz said...

Agree on many levels. I've been following this thread with interest as my clients are golfers, baseball and tennis players where speed and stabilization through rotation are king.
A definition that has helped me comes from Jonh Garhammer PhD called the "serape" effect. The connection of musculature that starts at the hips and runs up and around the back of the shoulders and back to the other hip. To mention core and keep out shoulder stabilization does not make sense to me.

Jim Ryan said...

now your talkin' fascia, which adds a whole new dimension to the equation. I just read a post on that too. I guess the Z-health folks are onto it as well. I also approach it energetically in some my work...all great stuff...

The body is definitely a unit and must be viewed as such in a final analysis however important looking at the parts is!

Brett Jones said...

Sorry the post didn't make sense - I too "just lift heavy shit" - However my 55 year old client with a partial knee replacement and history of back surgery and sedentary lifestyle does not - therefore I research and utilize a wide variety of training techniques and tools to achieve the goals of my clients.

I do not close my self off to anything that may help one of my clients - The simplicity I try to use with myself and my clients is purchased and developed through a great deal of reading, research and study in order to filter out the essentials.

have fun with your "core" work.

Brett Jones said...

Franz and Keats - imperfection training is certainly an end goal and the program must always be tailored to the needs of the individual and the goal activities.

Once the basics are covered I do try to load the individual and move them in order to "cement" the "core" work done early on.

Brett Jones said...

Andy and Aikibudo - the interconnection of the body along neurological and fascia lines is just one of the reasons to isolate then intergrate and then load the core to bring it into the whole. Crunches just ain't core training.

Anatomy Trains is an excellent book on the subject.

Thanks guys

Geoff Neupert said...

Here's a thought which will really confuse everyone: There is no such thing as "core training."

What you do to one part of the body affects the entire body whether immediately apparent or not.

Therefore, it would make sense to have some sort of thorough, simple, easily repeatable assessment. Hmmm...I think I've written on that somewhere else before...

Anyway, your assessment should tell you what's good for the client based on the history he provides you with. It may be roundback lifting, it may be imperfection training, it may be core training or even some combination of the three.

Here's an even wilder and crazier thought: What if lack of mobility makes what you're currently doing one of the above three mentioned without you even knowing it--meaning you are performing imperfection training with an exercise that's supposed to be bilateral in nature focused on perfecting that movement. Weird, huh?

I like Aki's quote:

"Only when you really have a solid grasp of the fundamentals is it wise to move off into variations."

(This is exactly why Z-Health's R-Phase is placed before I-Phase.)

So it would seem then that there is also a broad definition of what the fundamentals are--that is, what the core does. It would seem that it does a lot of things that are really activity specific. I mean, we never talk about thoracic spine stability--but could it be that there are activities that require just that quality. I think so. And how about position-specific stability? Wow! I think we can just keep going here.

My bottom line I guess it this: every joint in the body needs to be mobile. If it weren't so, it wouldn't be a joint--it'd be a bone. Therefore, ALL joints need mobility, including the ones that apppear to be involved in the transmission of nerve signals to the core musculature--lumbar spine included. Do not confuse immobility with stability. I have seen plenty of clients who have very immobile lumbar spines. The last thing they need is more "stability" training for that area. I myself am a prime example here.

I opened up a bunch of different cans of worms here. Sorry buddy. Can't help myself. Just got back from the most professionally stimulating 4-5 days EVER.

Jim Ryan said...

More good stuff Geoff! I'm following, I think. Things get complex rather quickly, which is denotes the need to focus on basics and a well trained coach to get to the essence.

I guess we oughta talk about it on your blog too. I kinda feel like I'm hoggin' up Brett's place here. Thanks Brett!

Brett Jones said...

References to a proprietary evaluation technique that you cannot share is not fair! ;)

In essence I agree with you and that is one of the issues when people want to "isolate" an area.
Everything is connected - agreed.

And yes we could just keep going and going and going....but instead lets all pat each other on the back for being so smart and deep and go drink a beer!

Brett Jones said...

Aikibudo - Hog away - i enjoy the company!

Geoff Neupert said...


Beer is good (in moderation). I'll buy the next time we see each other, as long as it's dark and imported.

Mark Reifkind said...

great post and excellent commentary guys. good stuff and an inmportant topic.

Mark Reifkind said...

I love anatomy trains and read part of it daily. It makes so much sense.myo fascial winding indeed.

Geoff Neupert said...

Rif--myofascial winding is indeed important stuff but it should only be addressed after visual and vestibular disturbances/compensations are addressed--otherwise you're just chasing your tale.

Jim Ryan said...

I've got a few extra Summit Great Northern Porters. Not imported, but good stuff!!

Too bad no one but Aaron & Fawn is within reach. And they haven't chimed in on this one...

Rick & The Family! said...


Don't take that the wrong way bro, I was simply stating that what you wrote was pretty damn scientific and such, and being dead tired I wasn't really catching what point you were trying to get across.

That is one of the main reasons I opted to not train people. Everything I research and learn is for one purpose: helping ME get stronger and bigger. I dont have the patience to do that kind of work for a client. I guess that is why I work with inmates....


Brett Jones said...

I nearly spit my coffee all over the computer with that last line!

It really does break down between my training for me and what I do for my clients - so I research and utilize concepts and tools constantly to keep my self progressing as a trainer.

No worries - when do you compete again?

Rick & The Family! said...


You truly have more patience then me. And, to tell the truth, I don't like to research for myself either beyond checking out Elite Fitness and experimenting in the gym. It seems as I age, I don't feel much like learning anymore.

Next meet is November 18th, IPA Senior Nationals where I damn well better get my Elite and the 220 deadlift record! LOL! We start our meet cycle last Sunday. Fun Fun.

I have a blog at www.beyondstrong.typepad.com/ricksblog/

Check it out to see my daily training and other random madness...


Brett Jones said...

I will certainly check your blog - White lights in November!

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