View Full Version : Core stability?

Barry Paul
-1st September 2010, 17:12
What is it? Why should you want it? How do you get it?

-1st September 2010, 17:22
Apparently my lower back problems are as a result of not having it. Personally, I think it's due to too much fencing, old age, and general decrepitude.

Jon Willis
-1st September 2010, 17:30
"Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!"

-1st September 2010, 17:33
What is it?

The most overused term in fitness

Why should you want it?

Because everyone else wants it.

How do you get it?

Pay a personal trainer lots of money to teach you to balance on a large inflatable ball.

I'll stop being facetious. Your "core" consists on a number of muscle groups - deep abdominals, obligues and spinal erectors to name a few - that work together to provide postural support.

Strengthening the core helps with posture, pain reduction, correct movement patterning, force production in exercise etc. Unfortunately the fitness industry has jumped on this idea and seem to have made it the be all and end of of training. A few exercises done a few times per week is all you need. It's the law of diminishing returns. The time needed to master some so called advanced core stability moves would be better used practicing footwork.

To develop core stability you need to develop the associated muscles. This link (http://www.thegaragegymonline.com/2010/06/02/introducing-core-stability-progressions/) provides an example progression.

-2nd September 2010, 00:45
The trick with the core is to remember you have one no matter what you're doing. By setting it right and activating it, even when sitting down, it should become natural for it to be switched on when you really need it (squats, lunging etc).

I would add one other exercise to the one shown on the Garage Gym page in Rudd's link*. Kneel on all fours and raise one arm and opposite leg to horizontal and hold for a few seconds, lower and repeat with other limbs. Try and keep the back as still as possible and the lower back and pelvis in so-called neutral (about halfway between the back being fully arched up and fully arched down).

You should feel stuff going on throughout the core - front and back. If it seems too easy it is probably because you're letting your lower back and pelvis move from side to side. I have come across this exercise from a professional physio, a good book on lower back strengthening and pilates over a 10 year period so it has a good track record.

*Seek professional advice before attempting exercise programs, yadda yadda.

-2nd September 2010, 10:23
Our sports specialist physio maintains good core stability = good balance, and vice versa, particularly important in solo "explosive" ( "not me mate", they cry ) sports - like fencing should be, I suppose.

They go together like a horse and carriage, tum tee tum..........

coach carson
-2nd September 2010, 12:11
You only need core stability if you want your attacks and defences to be longer and faster. Otherwise no relevance to fencing whatsoever ;-)

-2nd September 2010, 13:14
You only need core stability if you want your attacks and defences to be longer and faster. Otherwise no relevance to fencing whatsoever ;-)

And that changing direction thingy too.
Although if your attack is long and fast enough, I guess you only ever need to go forward :)

-3rd September 2010, 09:00
"You only need core stability if you want your attacks and defences to be
longer and faster......."

Longer AND faster........................

Don't want any of that then ..........

-1st January 2011, 02:16
The last session we had before christmas I found really helpful and we worked on engaging the core (I did pilates a few years ago and so understood what the master was asking) I found it very helpful especially with balance.

I suspect it will help with length and speed also, but time will tell - and balance is enough on it's own...

S&C Guy
-3rd January 2011, 14:49
I appear to go off on huge write ups when i answer questions on here, i promise to (try) and keep this one concise!

'The core' is a complicated term. People use it to describe lots of different things, i guess the most common is the various abdominal/oblique and deeper lying muscles. Some people include the diaphram and pelvic floor in this and some include the back extensors and glutes in this as well. Firstly the top expert in the world when it comes to building a STRONG midesction (not 6-pack abs, but something actually helpful to fencing) is a guy called DR Stuart McGill. He has several articles, stuies and books out that go into varying degrees of detail.

Here's my views;
The body is one piece, some people talk about working the chest or going to the gym for an arms day... its all a bit odd to me. If i were to ask what muscle a fleiche works you'd look at me strange and say all of them, so why in the gym should we train everything seperately and hope it comes together on the piste?!? Tie this in with the fact that in all the studies done on the 'core musculature' avtivation levels were highest when performing squats, deadlifts and olympic lifts, not when doing crunches, swiss ball balancing acts or any other circus skills you sometimes see. These have their place but they are low level drills which have little relevence to you producing high-level performance in competition. They may be more suited to the first time fencers or those returning from injury!

Also regarding crunches - if in fencing you bend over at the waist so your chest points towards the ground you are vulnerbale to losing a point. In fact you want to maintain posture, keep your chest up and face you opponent. I know i am not a fencing coach but everyone i have spoken to tells me this is the case. Tie that in with the fact good posture will from a basic physiological point of view extend you reach, increase you speed and strength and help you breath better (can provide an online demo if you want!) 'The core' is designed to RESIST flexion, extension and rotation in the lower spine, not cause it. The muscular shape and performance shows that it is there to help maintain proper posture and provide an 'anchor point' so that the other more powerful muscles can pull on it and move limbs (such as your glutes causing hip extension when you lunge). Exercise that promote this anti-movement happen to be squats, deadlifts and olympic lifts to name a few, this is not a coincidence i feel!

I'll leave it there as again i've put way to much down. If you have some specific questions fire away! Rhys I

S&C Guy
-3rd January 2011, 15:12
Tie that in with the fact good posture will from a basic physiological point of view extend you reach, increase you speed and strength and help you breath better (can provide an online demo if you want!)

Couldn't resist dropping this in to just demonstrate how important good posture is, which is provided by core strength.

Sat in a solid chair, hold yourself bolt upright, as perfect posturally as you can get. Think shoulders back, chin up (as if your balancing a book on your head), spine in a natural curve. From here do a few things, breathe in as deep as possible and release, continue with deep breaths filling your chest and allowing your belly to move in and out (belly breathing is a key technique but would require a huge write up to explain!). Remember how much air you are able to take in. Now keeping this posture, raise your arms in front of you and overhead, don't lean back but just see how far overhead you can get them in this posture.

Now sit in a bad posture, think Kevin the teenager in Harry Enfield, head down, slouched shoulders, chest towards your lap. Now repeat the breaths followed by the arms going overhead.

You should notice two things. Your breathing is much more shallow and difficult and you can belly breathe, this happening in competition could affect your performance! You arms probably struggled to get anywhere near the vertical point, there may have even been a little pain in your shoulder as you lifted it! This will affect the reach you have with your weapon, the speed at which you can display your blade skills and slowly lead to pain and injury due to the humeral head (shoulder joint) sitting out of place.

Posture is VERY important! Rhys I

-6th January 2011, 11:53
So if you had to pick the top 3 core exercises for a fencer to practice daily, what would they be?

-6th January 2011, 12:04
squat (back/front/over head), clean and.. bridge mabe

Always free weight ofc

-6th January 2011, 13:05
and without weights at all.. thinking of stuff that can be done anywhere.
Thanks for your advice.

S&C Guy
-8th January 2011, 21:00
As far as with weight goes i agree as far as squat variations, Olympic lifts and deadlifts are the best exercises.

Without weight things become more difficult from the simple point that if your 'core' is going to learn to resist large forces you need to train it with large forces, otherwise it can be like trying to improve your footwork in fencing whilst sat in the chair! However if you have zero access to weights i would recomend these (search on youtube for examples if your not sure what they look like, this page has alot of good examples on it - http://www.youtube.com/user/TheFitCast#p/u);

1) Planks (Front & Side) - sure you've heard of these. Going over a minute on these is a bit of a waste of time though so research progressions once you can do that. Ab wheel rollouts are awesome if you can do them!!!

2) Glute Bridges - Glutes are not traditionally viewed as the 'core', but they influence hip control and therefore help to estblish the all important 'anchor point' for your body to build from. Poor hip position influences posture, power, strength.....

3) Overhead Squat - This is me being a little bit sneaky with this one but learning a quality squat pattern without weight will do countless good things for your body, including your 'core'! Those of you that were at the Academy week in Nottingham learnt how an overhead squat done holding your sword can show you where you have tight muscles, weak muscles and faulty movement patterns, to keep this short i won't go into any more detail, but can write something up if you'd like.

Honourable mentions go to; Chin ups (huge 'core' activation during these), Briefcase carries/Farmers walks (can be done with actualy briefcases or bags if you have no dumbells) and Push Ups (basically an advanced Plank).