Core Strength for Coaches
President/CEO, Home Bodies
When it comes to having the strength to spot safely, core strength is critical. Core strength goes well beyond just crunches, because core strength encompasses all the muscles in the torso. Think of a strong core as your own built in ‘girdle’ to support your body as you perform all the physically demanding tasks expected of a coach.
This six-exercise routine will strengthen your entire core in just ten minutes. Perform it three times a week and you’ll see your ability to comfortably perform everything you need to do each day skyrocket.* You’ll also notice improved posture and a tighter waistline, and who wouldn’t want that??
These exercises are hand-picked for coaches because they incorporate a dynamic aspect to the exercise which mimics the motions you need to use while spotting. They also emphasize spinal balance, important for back health especially with people who have to do lots of physical activity using primarily one side.
1: FACEDOWN PLANK WITH MOVING WEIGHT
How to start: Prop yourself up on your elbows and the balls of your feet. Squeeze your abs and butt so your body is in a straight line. Have a 2.5 lb. plate or ankle weight to the outside of one of your forearms arms. We’ll assume starting position is weight on the right side.
Action: Shift your weight to your right arm, reach over with the left arm (trying to keep your body still) and pick up the plate. Drop it to the outside of where your left arm will rest. Now both arms are back to the starting point. Reverse the motion, shifting weight to the left arm and reach over with the right to pick up the plate.
Do this many: 6 shifts to each side, or 12 total. If you need to rest in between to complete the set with good form, that’s fine.
2: SIDE PLANK WITH TOP LEG UP AND DOWN
How to start: Prop yourself up on the side of your feet and on one elbow.
Action: Keeping hips as high off the floor as possible and your body in one straight line, lift the top leg a few inches off the floor. Do not let your hips drop as you do this.
Do this many: Hold the starting position for 10 seconds, and then lift the top leg up and down 10 times, then switch and do the other side.
3. SWIMMING SUPERMAN
How to start: Lie facedown with your arms extended by your ears and legs squeezed together.
Action: Raise your arms and legs as high as possible, looking at your hands. Hold for 1 second, then move arms out to the side like the capital letter ‘T.” Hold for one second, then move arms back to by the ears, hold for 1 second, and finally return to resting on the floor.
Do this many: 10 repetitions of this series.
4. SPINAL BALANCE WITH ELBOW TO OPPOSITE KNEE
How to start: On all fours, extend one arm by the ear and the opposite leg to approximately parallel to floor.
Action: Draw the elbow from the extended arm in toward the knee from the extended leg. As you draw the elbow and knee together, curl in and round your back. Hold for one second, then return to the start, trying to find a neutral spine. Hold there for one second before drawing in again.
Do this many: 10 repetitions of in and out on each side, then switch and do the other side.
5. BICYCLES FOR ABS
How to start: On your back, pull your body into a hollow position with arms gently supporting the head. Avoid pulling your head with your arms.
Action: Scissor opposite elbow toward opposite knee, all the while trying to press your low back into the floor and curl your shoulders as far off the floor as possible. You don’t have to actually touch opposite elbow to knee if you don’t have that flexibility; rather you are trying to twist as far as possible to each side. Perform these as rapidly as you can with good form.
Do this many: 50 bicycles (25 to each side).
6. OPPOSITE SUPERMANS
How to start: Lie facedown on the floor with arms by your arms and legs glued together.
Action: Raise one arm and the opposite leg as high as possible. Return to the starting position. Raise the other arm and it’s opposite leg and return to the starting position. Make sure legs remain straight and tight. Avoid letting your leg come out to the side as you raise.
Do this many: Alternating sides, perform 30 altogether (15 to each side).
Perform this routine twice though for two sets of each exercise. It can be completed in ten minutes and your back and abdominals will be much more likely to stay healthy and strong no matter what your gymnasts put you though in the gym!
*Be sure to check with your doctor if you have back pain or pain in your abdominal muscles to ensure that it is safe for you to perform these exercises.