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Thread: "Core" Stability "Training" -By Mark Rippetoe

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    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    "Core" Stability "Training" -By Mark Rippetoe

    There has been a bunch or discussion lately about using basic barbell movements as core training and this article addresses that topic.

    (Super special thanks to Coach Rip, should he ever come by, for letting us use his stuff here!)

    Article here: http://startingstrength.com/articles...y_rippetoe.pdf

    His board can be found here : http://startingstrength.com/resources/forum/index.php


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    "Core" Stability "Training"



    It is a matter of pride to me that I can go through an entire weekend seminar without once using
    the “C”-word. Out of a concern for my participants and my reputation I fastidiously avoid using the
    term “core” when referring to the trunk musculature or the stability thereof. I am so utterly goddamn
    tired of hearing about the “core” from members of the lay public, infomercialers, doctors, PTs, ATCs,
    personal trainers, and strength coaches that as a form of protest I refuse to use the term at all. That is
    why it will appear in this article only in scare quotes. “Core.” “Core,” dammit.

    The “core” is the collection of muscles that stabilize the spine. It is composed of all of the abs, the
    three layers of the side abdominal wall, the posterior spinal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, the hip
    flexors, and actually the diaphragm and the intercostals, although that may be working a little too far
    north. These muscles work together to control spinal position, which normally means keeping the
    spine rigid during work that involves force generated by the hips and legs and transferred through
    the trunk to a resistance at the hands, or in the specific training situation created by the squat, on the
    back or shoulders. The “core” muscles maintain the intervertebral relationships that allow the spine to
    both transfer force and remain uninjured in the process. They are extremely important in all sports,
    especially the barbell sports, and that is why I have an interest in this topic.

    The problem with the concept of training specifically for “core” stabilization is that it doesn’t make
    any sense. Leaving aside the arguments for using it to prevent back pain in sedentary populations
    (everybody that doesn’t have a “stable core” has back pain?), it proceeds from several ridiculous
    assumptions, and it is completely inapplicable to an athlete who is training properly on a basic barbell
    program. While it is absolutely true that all movements in sports that involve a ground reaction – a
    movement involving the feet generating power against the ground while the body, usually through the
    hands, applies it to a resistance – utilize the pelvic and trunk musculature to stabilize the spine during
    the movement, there is nothing magical about this part of the muscular anatomy that causes it to
    function as anything but a normal link in the kinetic chain. The “motor” is the hips and legs and the
    “transmission” is the spine. Without a big motor, the transmission has nothing hard to do. The spine is
    important, and therefore its stability is important; when the whole system is loaded, the motor and the
    transmission adapt together at the same time. The entire kinetic chain is developed by barbell training
    because squats, deadlifts, presses, and the Olympic lifts utilize the entire kinetic chain – and therefore
    strengthen the entire kinetic chain in the same way you’re going to use it.

    But a trainer that doesn’t use barbells wouldn’t know this, would they? They have been taught to
    prescribe isolation movements on Nautilus-type selectorized machines that require no balance, and
    therefore no coordinated use of the axial and appendicular skeleton. A trainer that brings such a
    limited perspective into the weight room might well be of the opinion that the only way to train
    the “core” is to perform silly isolateral movements while balanced on a Swiss ball. If the only type of
    exercise you are trained to perform leaves out the coordinated use of the hips, the spine, and all the
    stuff above and below it working at the same time, I guess you might believe that Multi-Directional
    Lunges and Seated Marching on the Physioball are the best ways to wake up your sleeping “core”.
    These types of extremely submaximally-loaded odd movements are roughly equivalent to the stresses
    encountered when taking the groceries out of the back seat, or walking through a crowded bar without
    spilling your beer. They are quite literally equivalent to the same physical stresses encountered while
    cleaning the house thoroughly, and they cannot provide the stress necessary to cause an already-trained
    athlete to adapt further.

    I shall illustrate my points by referring to a rather typical article regarding “core” stabilization training.
    This one appears at http://www.coachr.org/core_stabilisa...aining_for.htm and was written by Dr.
    Michael Fredrickson and Tammara Moore, PT, both of whose credentials reflect a specialization in
    training runners, and whom I predict do not either train with barbells themselves or prescribe them for
    their athletes. First rattle out of the box, they make this bizarre statement: “For middle and long-distance
    runners whose events involve balanced and powerful movements of the body propelling itself forward and
    catching itself in complex motor patterns a strong foundation of muscular balance is essential. In many
    runners, however, even those at an Olympic level, the core musculature is not fully developed.” This pretty
    much renders anything that follows suspect. How is it possible that athletes – at the Olympic level
    – are performing movements that involve balance, power, complexity, and strength, but that these
    athletes are not adapted to these demands? How can such movements be performed without causing
    stresses that produce adaptation? How can Olympic-level athletes achieve this degree of proficiency
    without having adapted to the stress imposed by their training? How can they perform at the Olympic
    level with such a glaring deficiency in their physical development? Either this assessment of these
    athletes’ adaptive level is not true, or running is not all that balanced, powerful, complex, or strength-
    demanding. Perhaps both, eh?

    So the method these people have constructed attempts to develop the “core” in the absence of enough
    resistance to actually make it strong. Strength still means “the production of force against an external
    resistance,” even if you’re talking about muscles whose function is isometric and the thing they are
    working against is leverage along the spine. Yet they have decided to use “moves” (sorry, but lots
    of things in modern exercise “science” deserve scare quotes) that feature a variation on traditional
    abdominal training (planks, weird situps) or exercises performed on an unstable surface using only
    bodyweight resistance or any light dumbbell that features a chrome or colorful rubber finish.
    Now, adaptation to stress is either specific, or it’s not, right? Which actually happens: the shovel
    handle makes calluses on the palm of your hand, or it makes calluses on the back of your hand? Do
    runners, tennis players, volleyball players, judo players, or any other athletes that you can think of
    without getting too exotic actually compete on an unstable surface under extremely submaximal force
    production conditions? No? Then why expect this type of training to be useful to any but the most
    absolutely untrained of novices?

    “Specific exercises for the runner should progress from mobility to stability, to reflexive motor patterning, to
    acquiring the skills of fundamental movement patterns, and finally, to progressive strengthening.” I wonder
    if this is their approach for every runner, or just those recovering from brain surgery. It is hard to
    believe that runners are such initially poor athletes that such remedial actions are necessary. First you
    have to get them moving, then you get them to move without falling down, and then you get them
    to move enough that they don’t have to plan each movement every time, and after that you get them
    really, really good at basic stuff like putting one foot in front of the other foot efficiently, and finally
    you show them how to use the leg extension machine.

    In their defense, they do say: “These sequences may not be applicable to all athletes; therefore, the key is to
    analyse the individual in each exercise category and then to tailor an exercise regimen that will best suit that
    runner’s needs.” But as is usually the case, all athletes are runners. So very tiresome.
    But here is the important part: “For example, it has been shown that runners prone to iliotibial band
    syndrome often have weakness in their hip abductors that predisposes them to increased stress on the iliotibial
    bands. Thus, a preventative training programme (Brits, I suppose) for runners with this syndrome must target
    the hip abductors, particularly the posterior aspect of the gluteus medius that assists external rotation or in
    decelerating internal rotation of the hip. Other muscles that prove weak or inhibited on evaluation should
    also be strengthened on a case-by-case basis.” This is the nut of the situation: these people are apparently
    incapable of understanding that the body functions as a system, and as a result it is best trained that
    way. It is as though Arthur Jones has removed the part of their brains that allow them to understand
    the mechanisms by which barbell training affects the entire body, including the “core” right along
    with it. To the modern conventional exercise practitioner, there is always an isolation exercise for every
    isolated muscle weakness, and a good physical therapist – the final arbiter of all exercises – can always
    teach you how.

    Let me ask all you “core stability” people a question (okay, a few questions): why don’t you just squat?
    What the hell is wrong with your reasoning ability here? Are the effects of deadlifts, cleans, presses,
    and squats too complicated for you to appreciate? Do you not see that an athlete with a 200 lb. press,
    a 300 lb. clean, a 400 lb. squat, and a 500 lb. deadlift has a stronger “core” than your runner who can
    just manage to do a Standing Reverse Wood-chop with a 2 kg medicine ball? Where did you manage
    to find a 2 kg medicine ball anyway?

    Did you know that these numbers are not so high that they require the degree of specialization of
    training typical of a competitive lifter, and that any decent 200 lb. male athlete should be able to do
    them? Can you not see that the process by which a 400 lb. squat is acquired develops the ability to
    stabilize the spine by developing all the muscles that do so in the most functional way it is possible
    to imagine? That getting strong enough to stabilize the spine while pulling 500 lbs. off the floor
    strengthens the muscles that stabilize the spine? Do you not understand the magnitude of the task
    of keeping the spine stable while inserting your body between the bar and the floor during a 200 lb.
    press? Can you appreciate the dynamic forces that must be controlled while cleaning a 300 lb. bar to
    the shoulders, and that for an efficient transfer of force from the legs and hips to the bar the spine must
    be held rigid, and that the “core” muscles do this job? Can you not understand that if your spine is
    strong enough to do these relatively hard things it’s strong enough to do all the things that are easier?

    Can you not appreciate the ability of barbell training to precisely adjust the load to the ability of
    the athlete as he develops his “core” strength, and all her other strengths at the same time? Do you
    understand the full ROM-nature of correctly performed barbell exercises, and that as a result the
    full ROM is actually improved while being strengthened at the same time? Did you know that these
    exercises are actually quite easy to learn, much easier in fact than the material for the ACLS certificate
    you’re probably studying for right now? I’m obviously not that smart, and I promise that I can teach
    you how to do them and coach them in the time it takes you to analyze my kinetic chain.
    But wait, I think I hear your objection, even from here in my office: you think barbell training is going
    to slow down your runner – uh, your athlete, sorry. You think getting strong will actually decrease the
    ability of your athlete to apply force in a pattern useful to his performance on the track or the road.
    You can just imagine the loss of mobility necessary for the full ROM used in running (humour, as it
    were), and other sports like tennis, volleyball, judo, or any other sport that would suffer at the hands of
    the “muscle binding” that always accompanies the process of developing a 400 lb. below-parallel squat
    and comparable strength in the other lifts. Yet you somehow believe that Alternate Seated Dumbbell
    Presses with 3 lb. weights will improve his athletic performance in some esoteric manner that my
    simple mind cannot understand.

    I am puzzled that anyone who has actually gone through the process of getting strong themselves
    actually thinks that this approach to training really causes an improvement in athletic performance.
    Unless a person is an unadapted rank novice (for whom anything acts as an adaptive stimulus) or a
    genetic freak (for whom ineffective silly **** like 5 lb. Alternate Dumbbell Presses while standing on
    a Bosu® thingee will not adversely affect an already elite performance, as said athlete will confirm
    when asked by somebody other than his coach), “core stability” training is an absolute waste of time
    that could be much better spent getting stronger – and therefore more stable – in much more effective
    ways. Any person who has first-hand experience with both heavy barbell training and fooling around
    at the physical therapist’s office knows this to be true.

    And most importantly of all, this is actually the way the vast majority of the drivel that composes
    modern exercise “science” gets promulgated: people with no personal experience with the process
    of getting much stronger begin to hold forth on a method they like, one that seems like it ought to
    work. They try it on untrained populations, who – not terribly surprisingly – get better than they were
    before. They write about it in a peer-reviewed journal (whose reviewers are all publishing in the same
    journal) or on the internet. Time goes by, and a brand-new training system is born. Sound familiar? I
    hope so. Learn to evaluate before you end up wasting precious time.

    Thoughts? Cents to add?
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 12-03-2009 at 07:04 PM.
    Sarvamangalam!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Clover's Avatar
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    Great rant.

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    Clean Bulk in Progress james_w8lifter's Avatar
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    great read
    6' 1.... 211lbs.
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    off topic i suppose but what are rippetoes creds? advanced degrees? specialized certs?
    the grass could be greener, and itll always be greener on the other side, but you just never know....this could be the one

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    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one View Post
    off topic i suppose but what are rippetoes creds? advanced degrees? specialized certs?
    MA in Kinesiology, CSCS, NCSA, USA Weightlifting Level 3 Coach, 25 years of coaching, 10 years powerlifting
    Sarvamangalam!

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    Chubbs McGee Auburn's Avatar
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    Rippetoe actually gave up his NSCA/CSCS credential a year or so ago. Disagreements.

    It is a good article, though.
    Last edited by Auburn; 12-03-2009 at 08:56 PM.

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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auburn View Post
    Rippetoe actually gave up his NSCA/CSCS credential a year or so ago. Disagreements.

    It is a good article, though.
    Lol, good for him! 99% of the certifications for trainers/coaches are utterly worthless.

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    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    Lol, good for him! 99% of the certifications for trainers/coaches are utterly worthless.
    Haha. Too bad the public prefers an entire alphabet behind a trainer's name.
    Sarvamangalam!

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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    Haha. Too bad the public prefers an entire alphabet behind a trainer's name.
    It is too bad. What they get is regurgitated bad information...

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    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    Bit of a tough read (I swear I have some type of attention span problem lol) but interesting all the same.

    I'm not overly technical at all, but I look at real life examples...

    The majority of people at my gym who focus on squatting, deadlifting and pressing and have both good form anbd strength with these exercises have impressive physiques - big, strong and athletic looking. Just how I want to be.

    The majority of people at my gym who focus on cardio, machines and core exercises look skinny and weak and I doubt anyone would ever be able to tell they workout out.. That's gotta suck.

    I know I would rather be the former.
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    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    Very good, I too hate hearing about core stability stuff from weak little personal trainers.
    You could not squat big or really even bench big with-out a strong core.
    Squat briefs only 625 @ 210
    Bench geared 525 @ 210
    Deadlift geared 650 @ 220

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    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    I will admit, I used to do planks, leg raises, situps etc all the time. When I used to be a competitive USS swimmer our coach had us doing them all the time. I had strong abs but was not very stable or balanced until I began squatting.

    I love doing weighted situps though. I got to 110lb DB for 2x20 but never saw much benefit besides being sore.

    Anyone else do any direct core work that they think provided them some benefit?
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 12-04-2009 at 01:09 PM.
    Sarvamangalam!

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    A Beached Whale.. Andalite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    I will admit, I used to do planks, leg raises, situps etc all the time. When I used to be a competitive USS swimmer our coach had us doing them all the time. I had strong abs but was not very stable or balanced until I began squatting.

    I love doing weighted situps though. I got to 110lb DB for 2x20 but never saw much benefit besides being sore.

    Anyone else do any direct core work that they think provided them some benefit?
    I do mobility drills (something Rippetoe seems to think is irrelevant while every other strength coach is obsessed with) and I aim to sling heavy weights and I do a ****load of core stability training (another issue which Rippetoe thinks is stupid or irrelevant while every other powerlifter/strongman/strength coach thinks otherwise).

    I have found core training to be very helpful to me in achieving my goals of getting strong(er).

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    Chubbs McGee Auburn's Avatar
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    He isn't against specifically training the torso, as he's said in his books and posts. He's talking about that silly Bosu ball crap or crunches for 150 reps.

    Regarding the mobility drills: there is a difference between getting ready for a sports activity or something like sprinting than there is getting ready to squat. Once injuries accumulate, the warm-up has to adapt. But, light squatting is fine to mobilize most people to squat.
    Last edited by Auburn; 12-04-2009 at 04:04 PM.

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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    Anyone else do any direct core work that they think provided them some benefit?
    I do some weighted sit-ups and weighted sidebends occasionally. I have a firm belief that every muscle group should be trained through it's full range of motion for at least part of the year. No, not for hypertrophy, but for balance and joint health.
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    A Beached Whale.. Andalite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auburn View Post
    But, light squatting is fine to mobilize most people to squat.
    From personal experience this is completely untrue. I used to have MASSIVE mobility issues with squatting...and most of the people I have helped learn to squat have had the same issues. Most people - until they begin actually squatting, have not mimicked that movement for a large part of their lives. So, given that, their bodies are just not mobile enough to squat.

    I think that Mobility work - hip and ankle mobility being the foremost on my list, is extremely important.

    Hell, the Diesel crew just released an AWESOME youtube video featuring this very aspect and Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey and Eric Troy have been harping this for a long long time: http://asp.elitefts.com/qa/training-...id=109884&tid=

    If I have to choose between trusting the combination of Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey (who has written a book dedicated to the positive and negative aspects of unstable surface training), Eric Troy and the Diesel Crew versus Mark Rippetoe, it's a no brainer who I'd stick to. Plus, my personal experience shows me that Mark Rippetoe isn't right about mobility work being a minor issue in this field of strength training.

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    Chubbs McGee Auburn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andalite View Post
    From personal experience this is completely untrue. I used to have MASSIVE mobility issues with squatting...and most of the people I have helped learn to squat have had the same issues. Most people - until they begin actually squatting, have not mimicked that movement for a large part of their lives. So, given that, their bodies are just not mobile enough to squat.
    The work needed to achieve ability to do a movement isn't the same as the work needed to maintain the ability to do a movement. I'm talking about general warm-up work, not specific work needed to correct a deficiency.

  18. #18
    A Beached Whale.. Andalite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auburn View Post
    The work needed to achieve ability to do a movement isn't the same as the work needed to maintain the ability to do a movement. I'm talking about general warm-up work, not specific work needed to correct a deficiency.
    I don't suffer from any deficiency any more (this is 5 years since I did SS) but I use a LOT of hip mobility and ankle mobility drills in my warm-ups. Infact, they ARE my warm-ups.

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