The Single Best Core Exercise That You Are Not Doing
So there you are sitting at your desk, and you decide to stand up to head over to the water cooler with the rest of your coworkers. Suddenly as you are standing up you feel a twinge in your back. Hmmmmmmm
After some contemplation you figure it might be a good idea to do some research on the matter and Web MD came to mind. You go through the symptoms checker and click on what hurts what doesn’t yada yada, no there isn’t any drainage or pus coming out. This is seriously one of the things on the checklist for your low back; check it out Web MD Symptom Checker. Turns out it is probably a muscle strain in your low back because of your tiny cubicle, and that you sit at all day.
Now if you are in serious pain, if it happens often, or if you have no idea why it happens see a doctor and get a diagnosis. If you think it’s because you sit all day and don’t lift then keep reading. Notice that I said lift and not exercise, there is a difference.
This will not be an article with advice on which type of crunch it better than another type of crunch exercise to do, or how this will make your 6 pack show up out of no where (In that case look towards your diet). Want an easy quick fix? Well this won’t be it. Will this work and help reduce pain in your back and strengthen your core? Heck yes!
Ready?! It’s the Front Squat!!! Not what you were expecting? Let me explain why it is in my opinion the best overall core strengthening exercise there is.
The Front Squat is kind of snubbed and disregarded compared to the back squat, and alas I think it will remain that way for a while in the fitness world. Even though the two exercises look the same at a quick glance, they are putting very different loads onto the body. The back squat which has the bar placed on the upper back focuses on much more of your glutes and hamstrings while the front squat focuses on your quads and your core.
It produces less torque on the lower back during the motion and your torso stays almost vertical while front squatting. So not only is this working your entire core during the movement but its putting less strain on your low back if you have any injuries. The real reason this is such a great overall core strengthening exercise is that if you got the bar into position, and you were not engaging your core during the motion, you would literally fall over. Most people have very weak anterior (front) core strength meanwhile their posterior (back) core strength is usually stronger if they have been working out.
For example, when I front squat I’m usually shooting for 8-12 reps per set with a lighter load on the bar to start then add weight and decrease the reps as I do more sets. The reason for this is because it is incredibly hard to keep your body in position and I want my technique to be spot on. When you first start out front squatting use either the bar on it’s own or a dumbbell to help you keep the correct position.
This exercise isn’t your grandmother’s 5 pound pink dumbbells kind of lift but a badass take no prisoners kind of lift. Do you need to do the same amount of weight that the guys in the pictures are doing? Hell no, should it be incredibly difficult? Yes. Has your core gotten significantly stronger doing 30 reps of crunches? Unlikely. This isn’t an easy lift and one reason why you may have never heard of it or done it, but in my opinion one of the most effective. Start slowly like anything else and over time you will see an awesome benefit when you add it into your program. If you have any questions about how to do a front squat or where to add it into your program feel free to shoot us a message.