Contrary to popular belief, the core is more than just ab muscles. So when you see someone rip out 100 Crunches in the weight room, he’s only developing a small part of his possible core strength. In fact, the core includes muscles from the thighs to the chest, including the obliques, low back extensors, hip flexors and glutes. All of these areas function together to efficiently transfer force between the upper and lower body. To effectively train these muscles, focus on exercises that target the core in different planes of motion. For example, perform exercises that involve flexion [Physioball Jackknife], extension [Med Ball Back Hypers] and rotation [Med Ball Rotational Throws] to gain the full benefits of core training. With these three exercises, you will throw the ball harder, swing faster and tackle more powerfully.
When setting up a training program for any sport, consider the following five factors: Choice of Exercise: Select exercises that will help you achieve your training goals, whether you want to develop speed, strength, power or a combination. Your training facility and its equipment will of necessity influence your choices. Do you like bands or free weights? Will you use bodyweight movements? Once you know what you want to do and what is feasible, perform the exercises that best fit your needs and your sport. Order of Exercises: The right order is as important as the right exercises. It’s best to start with dynamic movements, then move on to explosive exercises and those that require technique. Work your way through speed and agility training, then move on to strength exercises. Finish up with stretching.
Squatting exercises are a primary way to develop hip and leg strength, which is why most athletes perform some variation of the Squat in their workout programs. Most focus on the Back or Front Squat, which mainly promotes lower body strength; however, the Overhead Squat is an effective exercise for improving full body strength, and it should not be ignored. One advantage of the Overhead Squat is that you must stabilize the bar overhead when performing the movement. This engages core stabilizer muscles that support the spine, similar to how the core is used often during competition. You also work your shoulder stabilizers when supporting the bar, which is important for shoulder strength and overall joint health.
Successful athletes are often defined by their explosive power—the ability to generate as much force in as little time as possible. Improving power should be a part of every athlete’s training program. Yet, too often, workouts involve exercises that are slow. To put this in perspective, think about a sprinter like Usain Bolt. He has to train fast to get faster. If Bolt were to train slow, posting world-record times, which he routinely does, would be impossible. Now apply the same reasoning to developing explosive power. Training a muscle slowly may improve your ability to move weight in the gym, but slow strength will leave you breathing your opponent’s dust on the field.