BURN Fitness 101: Strengthen Your Core With Free Weights!
The buzz these days is all about core strength, core training, and core stability. “Functional Fitness Gurus” are pushing 100 different versions of a plank, kettlebell work in conjunction with lunges with twists and balancing at awkward angles while standing on an inverted BOSU… all to “build a stronger core!” These concepts are all well and good… except that they get clients distracted away from what most are really PAYING for, which is fat loss and toning!
If you’ve read a few of my BF101 articles before, you know how I feel about that!
A Trainer’s primary job is to address the goals that the client has hired them for!!! NOT to train their own agenda/obsession!
Imagine going in to your mechanic for an oil change, and the mechanic INSISTS on working on your alignment and suspension before he will address your oil change! That’s not professional.
I agree that many of my clients need to improve their functional and core strength to progress safely and to make ultimate strength/fitness gains… but NOT at the expense of their primary goal. This is why I tend to train clients with fat-loss inducing exercises that ALSO work to improve function and core strength.
What fat-loss exercises will also help my functional strength?
Modern Exercise Science has PROVEN beyond a doubt that multi-joint free-weight exercises are CRITICAL to fat loss, due to their full-body stress, hormone-stimulus, and efficiency. It just so happens that the BEST exercises for fat-loss, multi-joint, free-weight-based muscle-building exercises ALSO stress the muscles (and therefore TRAIN the muscles) of the CORE. The “core” consists of the muscles of the abdominal/lower back region, along with the stabilizer muscles of the hips and shoulders. When a client performs a muscle-building free-weight exercise, like a lunge with heavy dumbbells, the core muscles MUST be activated along with the heavy primary-mover muscles. ASSUMING THE CLIENT’S FORM IS MAINTAINED WITH THE HEAVIER WEIGHTS… the core/stabilizer muscle will be trained right along with the agonist (primary mover) muscles.
Working in core-specific exercises between sets of free-weight movements and at the end of a free-weight routine will further train the core, and the core muscle are trained MORE EFFECTIVELY if the big agonist muscle around then are trained first and exhausted.
If your primary goals are fat-loss, and lean muscle (tone), yet you feel your trainer isn’t helping you to achieve those goals, because they are personally obsessed with core training… have a talk with your trainer. If required… hire a new one.