I’ve written a lot about core training and different core exercises in the past. But one thing that’s really important to consider with core exercises is that you just can’t use anyone randomly with any athlete or client. It is fair to say that we should use progressions with our core exercises, at least with beginners; start them with more simple and basic exercises and progress them to more challenging variations. You should do that with all your core exercises from the different groups: anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-lateral flexion and inner core exercises. Today, I want to focus on anti-extension, or the anterior core group.
- The first most basic progression for most would be, with no big suprise, the front plank.
The front plank is a basic bodyweight exercise that requires to maintain a straight line throughout your body and keep a neutral spine position. This is also the goal of most other progressions, but the front plank plank does that without additional challenges.
- The second progression would be the stability ball front plank. Once someone has mastered the front plank and can hold it for over a minute, you can progress them to the stability ball version. The biggest difference with the stability ball front plank is that the surface on which you place your elbows is unstable, which in turn will require a greater activation from your core muscles to maintain the proper position.
- The third one is a similar variation from the stability ball front plank. Once that position is mastered, you can incorporate mini-rollouts with the same position on the ball to make it more challenging. Once again the goal is to maintain a neutral spine and keeping the belly tight even if we added movement.
- The slideboard bodysaw would be the next progression following the stability ball minirollouts.
The effect is pretty much the same because your points of contact on the ground further away from each other (elbows and feet), but this time since your moving your whole body away it makes the slideboard bodysaw much more difficult.
- The last one, but not the least, is the ab wheel rollout. This implement has been around forever, but I fell like it is not appreciated enough. When done correctly the ab wheel rollout is one of the most difficult anterior core exercise of all. You need to be really strong in order to maintain a neutral spine throughout a full range of motion. And to push things a little further, when you’ve mastered the ab wheel rollout, you can do it band-resisted:
There are many other variations of anti-extension core exercises we use with our athletes at Endeavor, but hopefully this gave you an idea of how progress anterior core exercises.
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