4 stages for greater core endurance, core stability, core strength, speed & power

Aug 16, 2021

If you’re looking to improve your core strength, you’ll find plenty of experts suggesting exercises you should try. You might be surprised, therefore, when after a little while you’re not getting the results you’re after.

In my Core Strength & Stability 12-week program I will support you through building the foundations of good movement and then developing the endurance and core skills you need before beginning to build up that speed, power and strength in your movements. It’s a much more effective and safer way to get to where you want to be and reduce your risk of injury.

Here I explore the 4 stages we’ll work through in order to effectively improve your core strength and why this really is the best way to approach things:

  1. Fundamental movement and core skills

I often talk about eight fundamental movements:

  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Getting up
  • Rotating

These are movements you do every day whether just going about day-to-day life or exercising inside or outside of a gym environment. By refining these movements and building the patterns or programs in your brain you’ll be able to ensure your body gets into a more effective position naturally, improving performance and reducing risk of injury.

This, alongside the training we look at in stages two, three and four will create a self-fulfilling cycle that keeps improving your core.

There are also a number of core skills that it’s important to master – these will help when it comes to stages two, three and four:

  • Breathing
  • Bracing
  • Joint mobility
  • Joint stability
  • Joint awareness

We need to focus on getting our breathing and bracing in sink and then improve joint mobility and stability through stretching. In effect we’re building an awareness of how our joints move and how to make sure we’re in good posture without having to look in a mirror to check.

  1. Increasing endurance

Put simply, endurance is the ability of our body to hold a posture without fatigue; it’s about training the core and its muscles to increase endurance. This should be done by first working on the fundamental movements and improving the key skills, in particular breathing and bracing.

One traditional way is to use the plank, holding for 30 seconds and then building up the length of time focusing on stability. We don’t do that in the program, we build up in blocks allowing us to put more endurance in without build up of fatigue. You can do this by going into a plank, holding for 10 seconds and then dropping to your knees for five. This method gives body a chance to relax, rest and release waste product build up while also practising the core breathing and bracing skills. I find this a much more effective way of building core endurance.

You can watch the video above for a demonstration of this method and why it works so well.

  1. Tuning endurance and muscles to stabilise core

Once you’ve begun working on the fundamental movements and building endurance it’s important to start tuning the core so it’s able to stabilise your hips and lower spine.

When we talk about stability, we mean the timing of muscle contraction. If we go into a plank and the hips are moving around it’s unstable, so in order to tune the core and get the muscles to work more effectively we need to stabilise.

The three exercises I like to use are:

  • Plank
  • Side plank
  • Bridge

You can watch the video above for an explanation and demonstration of each of these positions and how best to work on stabilisation of the pelvis and spine.

For more information about these and other positions as well as teaching points, common mistakes, how to correct and how to adjust for your ability consider joining my Core Strength & Stability 12-week program . Not only will you learn to get the most out of these invaluable positions, you’ll be able to add progressions thanks to the knowledge you build up in program.

  1. Developing speed, power and strength on top

As you begin to build effective movement and endurance, it’s time to add on to that speed, power and strength.

You can do this by taking a light weight, around 5kg, and starting with it held in two hands to one side of your waist. Next begin moving it quickly to bring it above your shoulder and then pull it back down again. The trick is fast movement, developing a solid platform of strength and power through the shoulders. You can then introduce a natural progression using more of the hips as well. You’ll see in the video that I add a little turn to increase the dynamism of the exercise.

The 12-week program is designed to develop the skills you require through stages one, two and three, leaving you with the knowledge and ability to work on this more advanced training post-program. I have deliberately created the program as a body weight program because I understand that people who are starting at a beginner or intermediate level may not have weights available.

You can learn more about my Core Strength & Stability 12-week program here.

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