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Thread: Ditch core work?

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Ditch core work?

    I'm tired of arguing about sandbagging and split requests, so let's fight over the value of the wobbly ball -- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/ar...lp-either.html
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Interesting article - and a bit confusing to me as someone who is in the process of discovering how his lack of core strength/engagement is hampering his swimming. Trying to make sense of the seeming contradictory messages I'm hearing - "you need to swim with an engaged core" versus what this article says: "Instructors who tell people to 'engage their core' before they perform an exercise are asking for trouble.There was this theory that by 'engaging' or drawing in the core you would target the deeply embedded transversus abdominus muscle, a thin band that holds the guts in. We now know that the practice leads to people squeezing their abdominal muscles, leaving the back unstable. It’s completely wrong and the reason so many people get hurt when they exercise."

    To me, the key sentence in that article might be: "Many experts believe that the principles of core fitness have been taken out of context by an industry intent on making millions." How many times have we as a culture gone through this cycle in fitness, diet, and other areas of life: 1) a basically reasonable, good idea comes to prominence 2) it gets turned into a fad by people who want to make huge money selling books, products, seminars, etc. 3) the basically good idea gets taken to silly lengths 4) the whole idea gets "debunked" 5) we move on to the next fad

    As the article says, the core is essential to moving your body. So it seems like it would have to be "engaged," no? But just not in the way this article says, which leaves the back unstable. The question then is, what is the correct way to engage (and train) the core?

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    Farewell Lily smontanaro's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    I was wondering about the term, "engage your core" the other day. How do I know (when swimming, let's say front crawl) when I've done it correctly (or at all)? Is it sufficient to "suck my navel to my spine"?

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Digging ditches is definitely core work. I did it for summers after HS and during college. Had good core and abdominal muscles

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
    How do I know (when swimming, let's say front crawl) when I've done it correctly (or at all)?
    I found a good method a week or so ago. I did some ab work after not having done any for a long time. The next day in the pool I could tell I was engaging my core. Ouch!

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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
    I was wondering about the term, "engage your core" the other day. How do I know (when swimming, let's say front crawl) when I've done it correctly (or at all)? Is it sufficient to "suck my navel to my spine"?
    Check out some of the posts on the following threads for good discussions of the "How do I know?" question:

    - Pulling your navel to your spine
    - Kicking rhythm?
    - Developing power and endurance - with the right stroke

    (All of these threads are fairly recent - within the past couple weeks)

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
    I was wondering about the term, "engage your core" the other day. How do I know (when swimming, let's say front crawl) when I've done it correctly (or at all)?
    I have to admit that I too mostly feel lost in discussions about engaging core when swimming.

    The article was interesting and I'm mostly persuaded by it, my back gives me the least amount of trouble when I ignore "core exercises" and the like.

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    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    I have to admit that I too mostly feel lost in discussions about engaging core when swimming.

    The article was interesting and I'm mostly persuaded by it, my back gives me the least amount of trouble when I ignore "core exercises" and the like.
    "Engage your core" is fairly meaningless to me as well. I do weighted exercises to strengthen the "trunk." But I don't bother much with crunches or wobbly balls, and I think I have a fairly strong core. I recall going to a "Pilates mat" class once. It was so easy that I laughed and left -- that is a good example of the concept of "core training" run amok.

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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    I have to admit that I too mostly feel lost in discussions about engaging core when swimming.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    "Engage your core" is fairly meaningless to me as well.
    This is really encouraging! I feel considerably less stupid now because this phrase is totally lost on me.

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    Very Active Member chowmi's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Engaging the core does nothing for my forward propulsion, directly or indirectly. I just think of mental pictures and then it's probably engaging my core, or working it all together as a well-oiled unit.

    Big no-no's: Mental image: slinky dog, the "X" factor, ie, swimming like a sloppy X shape, noodle limbs
    YES: Big 8 person rowing thing (boat, scull, whatever it's called), Aragon's big fancy elf sword, my kid's really realistic sword, a line segment through my body. It's the equivalent of like sitting upright in your chair when in Health class and the gym-turned-health teacher is discussing posture. You think you are the sword, and then immediately I feel much more streamlined, precise and at least eliminating passive drag. I don't even know if i'm using these words right. Sort of like engaging my mental images, heh heh!

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    I lost my core years ago
    Last edited by __steve__; May 2nd, 2013 at 08:00 AM.

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    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    I have never understood the phrase "swim with your core" either. I thought we were suppose to swim with our wholebody instead.

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    Swimming gives me a buzz! Bobinator's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Google "Kinetic Chain" and you'll find your core is the part of your body that generates forces. When people say "engage your core" I think that would translate to rotating your body to ensure maximal propulsion.
    HTFU!

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    Re: Ditch core work?

    To quote swim guru Bill Boomer, "you swim from your inside, out." I take this to mean that the actual propulsive movements of your limbs are enabled/enhanced by a strong and stable core. There are numerous studies that correlate trunk strength with limb power generation. Ask any of the major college swim coaches if they think they're wasting their time having their swimmers engage in dry land core work. BTW, the study in the news article on rowers seems pretty worthless to me. Consider the source.

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    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Abrahams View Post
    There are numerous studies that correlate trunk strength with limb power generation. Ask any of the major college swim coaches if they think they're wasting their time having their swimmers engage in dry land core work.
    Yes, 100% agree that a strong "trunk" is very important. My comment was directed to what exercises you're doing to strengthen it. Doing crunches on a yoga ball doesn't seem particularly helpful in advancing that goal. What exercises do you understand the the college coaches are using?

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    Very Active Member pdjang's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Abrahams View Post
    To quote swim guru Bill Boomer, "you swim from your inside, out." I take this to mean that the actual propulsive movements of your limbs are enabled/enhanced by a strong and stable core. There are numerous studies that correlate trunk strength with limb power generation. Ask any of the major college swim coaches if they think they're wasting their time having their swimmers engage in dry land core work. BTW, the study in the news article on rowers seems pretty worthless to me. Consider the source.
    My 2cents: Strong core muscles (rectus abdominis, external obliques, psoas major) are important for power generation and for body position. IMHO, almost all power athletic movements are initiated by some trunk rotation (followed by arm or leg movement) - e.g. power generation. As far as body position, we all know the importance of a streamline body position. Without the ability to maintain a streamline position (e.g. strong core), resistive drag increases due to a wider cross section (hip over rotates sideways; chest elevates or depresses).

    I'll also hazard a guess that the majority of "elite" swimmers already have strong core muscles and do not need further strengthening with supplemental exercises (pilaties, yoga, etc) because they are exercising those muscles while they are swimming.

    Respectfully,
    Philipp A. Djang, Ph.D.
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    Active Member fdtotten's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by pdjang View Post
    I'll also hazard a guess that the majority of "elite" swimmers already have strong core muscles and do not need further strengthening with supplemental exercises (pilaties, yoga, etc) because they are exercising those muscles while they are swimming.
    It seems logical that the wide range actual swimming based training activities including the development of underwater swimming used by many competitive swimmers today will generate significant core/trunk strength in itself. That fact that many of the highly successful coaches supplement that with dryland activities also reflects how it important trunk strength, power, and durability are.

    I can say for myself that about seven years ago about age 50, my back had minor aches when in the kitchen doing stuff like feeding the dishwater, reaching high in the cabinets. So I got a roman chair and started doing back "crunches" progressing up from 20 to several rounds of 100 a couple times during the day. Then I made a simple exercise room including a treadmill for walking, some dumbbells, and a simple machine for Lats, chest, and leg extensions. This was mainly for rebuilding my personal strength and for my wife who has low bone density. We use it daily, but not the yoga ball so much. This has been a tremendous benefit for our wellness, and I have not had any back issue since that time. I like doing dolphin kicking of all types particularly on my back with different kinds of equipment and feel that really is beneficial to my trunk strength also.

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    Re: Ditch core work?

    I misinterpreted this and became engaged to my core, endlessly showering it with love by filling it with beer and pizza. Now I have to start all over!

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    Quote Originally Posted by pdjang View Post
    I'll also hazard a guess that the majority of "elite" swimmers already have strong core muscles and do not need further strengthening with supplemental exercises (pilaties, yoga, etc) because they are exercising those muscles while they are swimming.
    That's kind of been my take on it too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb View Post
    I misinterpreted this and became engaged to my core, endlessly showering it with love by filling it with beer and pizza. Now I have to start all over!

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Ditch core work?

    I think there is a big difference between strengthening your core and "engaging"it.A strong core is important for streamlining and as a base of power. All strokes and SDK work the core muscles. Additional exercises may help,depending on what you swim in workouts and at meets.I think "engaging" you core refers to focusing on keeping it tight before and during exercise.I think just focusing on keeping a tight streamline (Chowmi's sword) is probably more useful.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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