Core Strength: The 2 fundamentals of core training

Jul 15, 2020

Core training isn't doing sit ups, crunches and other spine bending exercises because these movements are done at the expense of your spine. Overtime, as these exercises damage the spine your core strength and stability will reduce. Core training means following two fundamentals;

  1. The torso is designed to prevent movement
  2. The limbs are designed to produce movement

Why Sit Ups & Crunches are not core training

These two exercises violate the first fundamental because they bend the spine. Side bends, back extensions and twists are the same, they produce movement of the spine rather than prevent it. These exercise slowly diminish the structures of the spine that lead to injury. This doesn't mean your spine cannot or should not bend, twist or extend but under the load of an exercise it increases the risk of injury. 

The 2 fundamentals are based on how your body is built

I have pulled these fundamentals from thin air, if you look to your anatomy it begins to paint a picture...

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A practical guide for treating Lordosis

Jun 18, 2020

In order to improve your Lordosis you need to do more than a few token stretches. Your body need to learn better posture because if it can learn bad posture it can learn good posture. This is quick to say but takes longer to do and it happens small increments.

How do you learn good posture?

As I've mentioned it takes time and different pieces to the puzzle.

  • Massage
  • Stretch
  • Move


This doesn't have to mean seeing a massage therapist every day or week, you can self-massage with a foam roller for example. The key is to reduce the rigidity to tight muscles ready for stretching. I find the chewing gum metaphor to describes it best, if you take a stick of chewing gum and pull it apart it'll snap in two. If you chew it first and the pull it apart it'll stretch. Massage for the muscles is like chewing is for the gum, it brings suppleness to the muscles so stretching is more effective.


Now that you have supple muscles you can stretch them and this sets you up for the...

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How did I help Jacky overcome her low back pain

May 19, 2020

Jacky Farrell, 41, a software consultant, Redfield, Bristol.

Jacky used to work out regularly until she injured her back in 2008. Left in agony, she was unable to move or work for a time, and feared she would never regain her previous fitness level.

But within six months of working with Chris, she was able to exercise regularly and safely. 

The workout sessions were tailored to her needs and Jacky believes she is even stronger now because of it. She credits Chris with helping her to get fit and healthy. 

Most of all, she has had no back pain since she enlisted his help. 


Why did you decide you wanted to work with a personal trainer?

I used to train regularly until I got injured and became completely out of action.

I used to run and do body pump four to five times a week. Then one day, when I was helping somebody to move a cooker, I felt a ripping sensation. I was left unable to get out of bed or work for over a week. I was put on heavy pain killers.

I saw a...

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How to build greater core stability

Apr 15, 2020

Core stability is different to core strength and in the tutorial above I'm going to use one exercise to help you understand how building core stability is done. It's not just about the exercise in this tutorial as there are many exercises you can use. I'm going to focus on the how to do the exercise so you can take that into other exercises.

What is core strength?

Core strength is your ability to hold a posture while resisting fatigue. The longer your can hold the posture the better your core strength. Exercises you can use to improve this could be planks and side planks.

What is core stability?

Core stability is about muscle activation and your ability to remain stable in an unstable posture. The less you wobble in this unstable posture the better your core stability. The exercise I'm using in this tutorial to demonstrate core stability is the bird dog. It's a perfect exercise for core stability because it integrates the shoulder, spine and hip.

Does standing on one leg help core...

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5 mistakes people make treating Lordosis

Apr 02, 2020

Lordosis is a condition that affects the lower back, exaggerating the curve of the spine and causing the abdomen and buttocks to protrude. It may also cause the knees and toes to point inwards and even cause rounding of the upper back. With lumbar Lordosis you may not see all these symptoms, but they very often happen in combination.

We’ve discussed Exercises for Lumbar Lordosis on the blog a number of times previously, but even when you know which exercises or stretches you should be doing it’s possible that you’re not getting the most out of them.  

In this tutorial I’m covering some of the most common mistakes people make when they’re treating Lordosis:

  1. You don’t continue the good work during your daily activities

 If you work out and do the correct stretches for 30-60 mins per day that’s a great start for improving your Lordosis symptoms. The problem is there are 23+ hours during the remainder of the day during which you...

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5 everyday causes of low back pain

Mar 19, 2020

Low back pain doesn’t have to be triggered by an event or accident. More often than not it is the result of a build-up or aggregation of actions over a period of time.

 The problem is these damaging actions can be pretty mundane things. Normal things you don’t realise are doing you damage. That’s why in this tutorial I want to address some of the everyday causes of low back pain. Because awareness of what you might be doing wrong can actually be half the battle.


 Repeated bending of the spine

 You drop something and quickly bend down to pick it up. You bend down to talk to or play with young children. You wash up each evening in a sink that’s slightly too low for you.

 All of these are actions that might happen every day, but that you perform without really thinking, and often in a rush, giving your body little or no time to prepare for the movement.

 Add to this sit ups and crunches that are more deliberate actions but when...

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Exercises That Build Real Core Stability

Mar 04, 2020

I’m sure you often hear people use the phrases core stability and core strength, but are you clear on what they actually mean and how they differ from one another? In this tutorial I discuss stabilising and strengthening muscles and how to make sure you’re doing the right exercises to get the right results.

 What is the difference between core strength and core stability?

 Core strength is the ability to hold a position or posture for a period of time and / or against a load.

Core stability is more about coordination and balance. It’s the extent to which we can exert control over our core muscles, engaging them or switching them on and off as necessary to support our movements.

 As you can see from this, the two are complementary but not the same, so it makes sense that we would concentrate on different exercises and movements to develop each one.

Exercises for core stability

Exercises that build up core stability focus on the small muscles, those...

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One key principle of posture training

Feb 19, 2020


One thing my clients hear me talking about a lot is the importance of good posture when it comes to back health. But thanks to the prevalence of desk jobs and handheld devices, good posture is not something that comes particularly naturally to many people.  The good news, though, is that good posture can be learned (and bad habits broken!) – and doing so will make a world of difference to your back health over the longer term. 

How to develop better posture

Improving your posture involves more than stretching, it is about teaching your body to hold itself in a different way. And then to maintain this even when you’re not consciously thinking about it. 

This takes time and it takes patience. But the benefits of doing so are huge, including providing your spine with better support during everyday activities and improving your quality of life for longer. 

But posture training isn’t a standalone activity, it’s something that needs to be...

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Should you strengthen your low back muscles with back extensions?

Feb 05, 2020

If you’ve been told to strengthen your low back muscles, it’s completely understandable you might think turning to back extension exercises is the way to go. After all, the more you work the muscles the stronger they’ll get, right? Well, not necessarily.

Just because your back muscles are strong does not mean you will be able to avoid back pain; I know plenty of really strong people who struggle with a bad back. Back extensions are not the answer, but there are other options. 

What do I mean by back extension exercises?

 When I talk about back extensions there are two types of exercise, in particular, that I am referring to:

  1. Using a rack, leaning your hips onto the cushioned part and bending forwards. 
  2. Laying on the floor, lifting your chest up and bending backwards. 

How do back extensions impact on your spine? 

It’s important to understand the impact that exercises such as back extensions can have on your spine and the muscles...

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Why you should swap sit ups and crunches for these core exercises

Jan 22, 2020

When you want to exercise your abdominals or core, it’s common to turn to sit ups, crunches and twists. After all, these are the exercises we’ve all been taught for years. And yes, perhaps you’ll see some benefits, providing you’re doing them correctly. But there is a trade-off – sit ups, crunches and twists can actually cause damage to your spine. 

There is a better way, however, and in this tutorial I show you how. 

What’s the problem with sit ups, crunches and twists?

There has been a tendency in the fitness industry over recent years to focus on body building techniques for core training, and even for rehabilitation. That is focusing on muscles individually and working them hard to strengthen them. But this is not how our bodies are design to work. We don’t use one muscle at a time, we use combinations of muscles to perform particular movements. This means that when we isolate a group of muscles to train them, we are in danger...

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