As you have all probably noticed by now, we have added two “extra credit” sessions per week dedicated to what we call iso-stability work. Just as the name implies this extra work is targeted at making us better at using isometric muscle contractions in order to stabilize our trunk in a position of optimal posture. The ability to maintain posture while under stress (metabolic fatigue, heavy load, etc.) is paramount to optimal performance, as well as avoiding injury, and improving longevity in an activity.
To better understand how our “core” musculature works to stabilize our trunk and keep our spine in good posture, we have to understand all the ways our trunk can move. First there is trunk flexion (think sit-up and toe-2-bar), then trunk extension (think good mornings and deadlifts), next is rotation (think russian twists), then lateral flexion and extension (think about the movement in our standing tea pots), and finally isometric stabilization (think about maintaining perfect posture during a heavy front squat with no belt). Now lets look at how these types of trunk movement are applied to movements we see as part of CrossFit, but also outside the gym. A deadlift, a squat, a snatch, picking your gym bag up off the ground, and getting off the toilet all have isometric stabilization and trunk extension. Sit ups, toe-2-bar and sitting up to get out of bed in the morning are all primarily trunk flexion. We could go on and on like this, nearly every movement we do in the gym, in sport, and in life requires some combination of movement and stabilization of the trunk of our body. The more examples you look at the more you will see a pattern……that isometric stabilization is the most prevalent type of “core strength” we need because it is part of more movements and activities than any other.
Once I realized this and then examined our programming, and combined that with what we were seeing in our clients on a daily basis, it became clear that our program needed more iso-stability training. So now you see it in a small volume dose in our warm ups almost every day. In the warm up we want to prime the system, get the muscles and the CNS prepped for what we need it to do in the training, which is stabilize our trunk and support perfect posture under whatever stress we throw at it. We also now have two higher volume/intensity sessions dedicated to iso-stability training. These usually show up on Mondays and Wednesdays, but you are encouraged to get both sessions in whenever your schedule will allow during the week.
Want a little more info, check out this Article from Athlete Cell. It does a great job explaining the difference in the muscles of the “core” and how they work together to create stability. It even has some cool diagrams and a anatomy video.
Want even more??? Here is an older episode of Barbell Shrugged dedicated entirely to “core training.”