Core Duration vs. Core Intensity: Which One Do You Choose

One topic came to mind while coaching one of the younger hockey teams at off-ice last night.  One of the players was filling me on what they did with a past team at camp which sounded to me to be somewhat counterproductive.  A few of them chimed in and said that that was the exact same thing they were doing as well.  What am I talking about?  Holding planks for endless minutes.  Now,  I am actually surprised that whoever chose these exercise actually did choose planks over sit-ups and crunches.  That is definitely a step in the right direction but it may give people the wrong idea to how these exercises should or can be used.  When you train athletes or clients, one of the things I have learned as a coach/trainer is that you provide them with “best practice.”  These athletes only have so much time with whether it be 2, 3, or (hopefully) 4x/week ranging anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. Incorporating 2 minutes of planks of planks to figure is a waste of time.

Stuart McGill, as an assessment, states that people should be able to hold a front plank for 60s and side planks for 45s/side.  This is for the assessment and McGill himself advocates shorter isoholds while increasing the number of reps to increase core & spinal endurance.  Once these are mastered then you progress to a more difficult variation.  An example make look something like this

Front Plank

Week 1 & 2: 3 x 15s, Weeks 3 & 4: 3 x 20s OR 

Weeks 1 & 2 : 3 x (2 x 10s) perform 2 10s holds (1 set) Weeks 3 & 4: 3 x (3 x 10s)

For low-level core exercises like the front plank and side plank we should be able to diaphragmatically breathe the entire time

Front Plank March (new variation)- get into a front plank position, lift one heel 2 inches of the ground, pause for 1s then drop down. Alternate legs.

Weeks 1  & 2: 3 x 6/side  Weeks 3 & 4: 3 x 8/side

Then from here we could go onto exercises like stability ball front planks, or front plank w/ 1 arm reaches, etc.  These examples apply to all core exercises whether anti-rotation, anti-flexion, etc.  The idea is increase the intensity instead of the duration (spend 2 minutes per set) which improve endurance and stability demands more effectively.  The training sessions can be much more effective because it allows you to get in more work for your clients or athletes.  Try it!



Categories: Core Training

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