I’m a Trainer, and These 4 Core Movement Patterns Are the Secret to Stronger Abs

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As a trainer, I approach fitness from a holistic perspective. My main goal is to teach people proper movement patterns and the benefits movement can have on the body, both in the short and long term, while also helping clients achieve their personal goals. Strengthening the abdominal muscles is a conversation that comes up often, and instead of focusing on superficial traits such as being able to see one's core muscles, I focus on ensuring that people have core stability and strength since the core is considered to be the source, or root, of all movement. In order to achieve optimal core stability and strength, I recommend focusing on four core movement patterns that will benefit movements such as walking, lifting objects up, and performing more intense activities such as running.

There are a plethora of abs exercises you can do, but regardless of the exercise you choose, you want to make sure you're targeting your core from all angles, working the anterior core, posterior core, rotational core, and lateral core.

Breaking down the core movement patterns

Anterior core exercises help prevent excessive extension (arching) of the lumbar spine and work your deep core muscles, stabilizing the spine and pelvis. Movements such as front planks, the Pallof press, and stability ball roll-outs are all great options to target your anterior core muscles. 

Posterior core exercises are important because they prevent excessive flexion (rounding) of the lumbar spine. Movements like glute bridges, bird dog, back extensions, and even deadlifts (yes, deadlifts!) will improve your posterior core strength.

In addition to focusing on your anterior and posterior core muscles, your workouts should also include rotational core exercises. These exercises teach your body to resist excessive rotation of the lumbar spine. Incorporating exercises like low-to-high wood chops and windshield wipers are examples of rotational stability exercises.

Finally, you want to make sure you work your lateral core. These movements teach your body to prevent excessive lateral flexion and tipping over. Exercises that fall into this category are side planks, the Pallof press (also an anterior core exercise), and carrying movements such as single-arm farmer's carry.

How to implement the four core movement patterns into your workouts

There's no hard and fast rule that all four movement patterns should be included in every workout you do. If you don't hit them all in a single workout, I recommend spreading them out over a week's worth of training. For example, if you do two strength workouts a week, you could target your posterior and lateral core on day one by performing single-leg deadlifts and side planks. During your second strength session, you could work your rotational core with resistance band chops, or landmine rotations if you're more advanced, and hit your anterior core with a forearm plank or stir the pot.

The most important thing is that you include all the movement patterns into your training consistently to achieve optimal core stability. Improving your core stability translates to how you perform both everyday tasks and fitness-specific movements, so it's important you show every angle of your core some TLC to reap all the benefits of a strong and stable core.

Want more core goodness? Check out this six-minute core stability workout: 

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