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Winning Ways:
Hard Core Stability

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

When it comes to competing in athletics, having a strong "core" goes along way to putting in on the road to success. When talking about the core, I'm talking about the muscles that make up the abdominals, the obliques, and last but certainly not least, the lower back, particularly the erector spinea. Your core muscles work to maintain your good posture and stabilize your upper body or trunk.

The importance of core stabilization training is no longer lost on coaches or most athletes. Core stability is what helps your muscles exert greater power. The core helps transfer energy through the body. When you jump, the energy must pass through the core to elevate the body. Without a good strong core, that energy will not be used as efficiently as it could be. Training the stabilizing muscles to hold the torso steady while introducing resistance from the arms, legs, and even gravity, is important. Without doing this, we would never be able to improve on our ability to balance ourselves, and as athletes, if your balance isn't good, you probably aren't too good either.


When training, most people are aware of the importance of making sure that their abs are fit and strong. To that, more often than not, these same people tend to neglect the lower back. People tend to forget about their backs until they have a problem and they can't straighten up. A strong flexible core that has superior balance will prove to be a big advantage over an opponent that doesn't have one. When trying to name a sport or activity that doesn't demand a decent strength index from the core, it's almost impossible to name one. As a conditioning coach, one of the things I stress the most is efficiency, and one of the ways to make sure that my athletes best utilize their energies is to make sure that the core is ready to rock and roll.

One of the tools we use to make this happen is called the "Physio-ball". The Physio-ball was introduced by Swiss physical therapists to assist in the development of balance and enhance reflex actions. When done correctly it is a safe, inexpensive, and effective tool in creating the body you want. The Physio-ball is a large heavy-duty ball, big enough to sit on. It comes in many different sizes. The support and strength of the ball is important to the function of the core. Exercising on a base that is unstable like the Physio-ball will help integrate your core stabilizers, and the best part about it is all the different angles you can work from.

The secret to creating a midsection that will help you excel is to work the core by itself. When we train, we devote two training sessions a week to it, and if you'll pardon the pun, we are hard core. If you find it difficult to train this way, then train them with another body part. Take note, if you do it this way, train the other body part first. If your abs and lower back are tired you may put yourself at a higher risk of injury, and remember that is what we are working to avoid.

The benefits to ability and self image from core training are greater than you can imagine. Some days it will be tougher than others, and know this, when you get through your training session this is what separates contenders from pretenders.

Photos by Art Redd

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Do you have a fitness or conditioning question for Graig? Send it to If your question is used in an article, you will receive a free Team Conditioning Systems t-shirt.

For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives.

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