By Austin Womack – STAQ Performance Coach
I’m going to go ahead and assume that you understand core strength is important. Ever wonder why your coaches make you do abs every workout? Every wonder why you always see those infomercials on TV promoting the latest and greatest product: The Bulletproof Ab Shredder 9000?
Because core strength is important! You hear this all the time.
The purpose of this article is to discuss exactly why increased core strength is directly related to increased speed and power. Let’s start with what the core is. My personal definition of the core is the spine, pelvis, and the musculature that surround those two structures.
The big focus of this article is:
1. how to get into a neutral spine/pelvis, and
2. how to keep that position throughout different movement variables.
A neutral spine is one that is not too kyphotic or lordotic in nature. A neutral pelvis is one that is not too anteriorly, posteriorly, or laterally tilted.
Once you understand what a neutral position is it is time to test this position against resisting external forces. Always start simple and progress from there. One of the simplest core positioning exercises is the plank. The plank is an anti-extension exercise meaning our core musculature is acting to resist the spine from going into lumbar extension. Once you’ve perfected the ability to control your spine/pelvis during an isometric exercise like the plank it is time to increase the difficulty of the exercise. This can be accomplished with a variety of exercises. Shoulder taps is a simple plank progression that we use to add a rotary stability component to planks. This progression forces the core to resist both extension and rotation.
There are many, many exercises you can to do build core strength and stability in this fashion. This article is going to focus more on the WHY and not the HOW, so to see more exercises you can check out our YouTube page (link) or just search terms like “anti-extension core exercises” on YouTube.
Why is this important when we are trying to build strength and power?
First, we have to understand that power comes from violent and efficient extension of the ankle, knee, and hips joints. You may be familiar the phrase “triple extension.” That’s exactly what we’re talking about here. This phrase is used often when dealing with Olympic lifting variations such as the clean and snatch. Triple extension is also a critical component to powerful movements like the vertical jump, broad jump, and top end speed.
When we’re talking about core stability and power working in conjunction the hip joint is the area we want to focus on. Athletes and coaches both need to be able to differentiate between hip flexion/extension and lumbar flexion/extension. When we get large ranges of motion through hip flexion/extension WITHOUT losing the position of our spine we increase our ability to produce and absorb force.
The problem is when we perform an exercise like a vertical jump and crank the lumbar spine into extension. This does two things.
1. It decreases the stability of our core because our spine is out of a neutral alignment.
2. It limits our ability to produce force because we are not getting full hip extension.
We know that the glutes are the main driver of hip extension, and we know that the hip extensors can produce much more force than the lumbar extensors. Most athletes have strong, adequate glutes so we just need to make sure that they are using them!
One exercise we use to promote this concept is hanging wall drill. Because the arms are overhead our body will have a tendency to fall into extension patterns. We want to resist this. This will automatically force the athletes focus on stabilizing the core and maintaining proper position throughout.
We also want to emphasize hip extension over lumbar extension, just like we talked about above. One cue we use to help the athlete focus on this is “don’t let your belt buckle point to the ground.” This cue helps the athletes kinesthetically understand that we don’t want the pelvis to tilt anteriorly, thus dumping them into lumbar extension.
The key is to understand that this is concept is effected by the athletes’ natural positions. Some athletes may be more kyphotic or lordotic in posture and so your cues will need to be adjusted accordingly. Find out if your athletes are more auditory or visual learners and give them cues that will get them into the best position to produce and absorb force. Ensuring that your athletes are paying attention to details like this is what makes a long-term development model successful.
If you enjoyed this article be sure to share it on your favorite Social Media platform, and then follow us as well! @GodspeedESA
Let me introduce to you our next “What I Ate Wednesday” videographer:
Chase Prime, STAQ Performance Coach.
Chase has been training at Godspeed (When formerly RPM) for 9 years, way back when he was the only athlete being trained by Lance…in Lance’s basement. My how things have changed!
He’s been employed by RPM/now Godspeed for 6 years and most enjoys the knowledge within the company and is currently pursuing a degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from UAB, set to graduate Fall 2016.
“The educational backgrounds and experience each coach offers is the highest
you can provide to produce results in athletes and adults.
This is why Godspeed excels at being an Elite Training Facility.”
What staples are ALWAYS in your kitchen?
What’s your favorite/most used kitchen tool(s)?
Hi there! It’s good to see you back for the second video in this series!
This video, you’ll be seeing what Godspeed Performance Coach, Austin Womack likes to eat for his delight and his weight room “GAINZ.”
Before we get this show started, let’s get to know Austin a bit better, shall we?
10 Facts You Should Know About Austin:
1. Proud graduate and former baseball player for Hendrix College (Conway, AR).
2. When he wasn’t on the dirt diamond, he pursued and received a BS in Kinesiology.
3. He decided he wanted some more letters following his name and is currently pursuing his Masters in Human Performance and is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA).
4. When in Kansas City, his favorite food of choice is “Kansas City BBQ,” it’s for the “GAINZ.”
5. That’s right, “GAINZ.”
6. Favorite Birmingham food is TBD…he’s open to suggestions!
7. Odds are if you catch him working out (or simply follow him on Instagram @WomackStrength) you’re most likely to see him working on deadlifts, his favorite exercise.
8. What you won’t likely find him doing? Running around the turf timing his 400 meter sprints or leading a step aerobic class…the man hates cardio.
9. However, if you’re nervous about your next dance party, he can teach you how to Dougie. Go on, ask him, make him prove it!
10. Ok, gals, get ready for this one. When asked to name his hero, he said, wait for it, his MOM. Awwwwwwww!
(Austin, you’re welcome in advance for all the ladies now headed your way.)
Let’s take just one more minute and read what Austin had to say for the Q&A portion!
We’re in your apartment, I take it upon myself to grab a drink from the fridge…what am I guaranteed to always find?
You will always find bacon and eggs in my fridge. Always. And in no way is that depressing.
What do you find is the biggest misconception with nutrition, fitness and meeting goals, whether it’s toning, losing weight, adding muscle, etc?
The biggest misconception is that it’s hard. It’s actually simple. If you want to lose weight, for example, just take in less calories than you’re expending. The trick is consistency, but that’s what we, your coaches, are here for: to help you maintain a consistent effort for your goals. Don’t be afraid to use us for accountability!
I noticed some RivalUs supplement(s) in the video, what made you choose those?
I choose Powder Burn for a pre-workout supplement because it gives me the energy to power through my workouts. It also helps me get focused and ready to mentally push myself. I choose the Clean Gainer for a post-workout shake supplement, because 1. It helps me reach my caloric and protein goals, and 2. It tastes fantastic. Seriously, it might be the best tasting protein I’ve ever had.
You’re young, busy, and likely on a budget. So, riddle me this: Does eating healthy have to be expensive?
Of course not. You just have to be strategic and plan ahead. When you don’t prepare and plan your meals, you’re most likely to splurge and get something you don’t need, both from a health and budget stand point. Make a grocery list only of what you need and stick to it.
We at Godspeed want to give you at Godspeed a visual nutritional peek into a day in the life of our coaches.
Ever wondered how Blake got to look like, well, Blake? Those arms though. Curious how Chase gets those gams or how Austin looks like a miniature version of Lance?
Good, we thought you’d be interested! Video one of this series is with Coach Blake and we think you’ll like what you see!
Check out this video:
Wasn’t that a great video?!
Aww, now we’re blushing…but we’re not done yet…
We also took a moment to sit down with Blake and dig a little deeper, ask some questions that inquiring minds would like to know, so keep reading to learn more:
If we were to stop by your house unannounced (which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to invite myself over), what would we always find in your pantry/fridge?
Lean protein (chicken, steak, fish)
Lots of greens (spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts)
Peanut butter (white chocolate wonderful, skippy all natural super chunk)
Avocados, olive oil
RivalUs Protein powder with 2% milk to mix
Sweet potatoes, quinoa
Rice cakes, raw almonds, carrots, hummus
Have you found a common misconception (we know people be crazy) linked to nutrition and reaching desired fitness goals?
I’d have to say there’s two common misconceptions:
First, I think nutrition is incredibly overlooked in relation to meeting fitness goals. I see so many individuals who give it their all 7 days/week in the gym, but simply due to their lack of focus on nutrition, they don’t see desired results. Nutrition is to Fitness like Thrusters are to Fran (you’re favorite lady). You can’t have one without the other. Nutrition either helps your body prepare for workouts and the recovery following or it doesn’t, it’s as simple as that.
Second, the term “cheat meal” is incredibly misused. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 1,000 times! Clients will eat so well during the week only to go into “all you can eat mode” starting 5 o’clock Friday evening. They think congratulating themselves on a job well done with burgers, fries, drinks, ice cream, etc., isn’t a big deal. It so is. Every time, they overload on calories through the weekend, starting their next week off already in caloric overload, ultimately not seeing the results they desire.
So, do you have a plan for us 5 o’clock Friday Food Party attendees? (My fingers are crossed!)
Solution? Yes, I’ve found two weeks to be a magical number. Go two weeks without cheating and you’ll find that your insatiable desire to cheat has lessened substantially. Accountability is key! (Hint: submit your food journals!)
(I’m not saying no cheats ever, I’m saying no cheats for two weeks, then we’ll talk)
Why/How do you choose your supplements. There’s SO many out there and I immediately break out in a cold sweat just walking into GNC or down the protein aisle at Walmart! Supplement Overload! SOS!
Well, I’ve tried a LOT of supplements in my 33 years. After testing multiple types and brands through Godspeed, we’ve narrowed it down to one, RivalUs. It’s what’s on the shelf in the facility and it’s what’s on the shelf in my home. Why? Because I believe it’s the best. Here’s why:
-#1 supplement taken by professional athletes
-all of the products taste good
-backed by expert research
-backed by independent third party testing (Informed Choice)
-truly has taken my training to the next level
It can be overwhelming, so find me and ask me your questions, I’ll work with you to decide what you should take when and why. Educating is key!
That’s a wrap! Stay tuned for the next episode of “What I Ate Wednesday With…”
Let us know of any questions you’d like answered as well and until next time,