Core activation training programme
The core refers to the sets of muscles that surround your stomach and hips. They are vital for rugby performance because they are the foundation upon which your strength is built. They also prevent injuries and ensure your stomach is flat.
Core muscles often become what are known as sleeping muscles, this means the body has stopped using them for a variety of reasons, e.g. to prevent further pain, from eating sensitive foods etc. When this occurs you need to follow a core activation programme to wake these muscles back up.
The following basic programme should be followed by everyone and before starting out on a core training programme. It is a simple routine that should be performed regularly. If possible try and tag this onto the end of your daily active stretching routine.
The principles of this can also be taken before each resistance training exercise or exercise.
• Deep breathing – Find your neutral spine (your perfect posture) using a wall to guide you and practice breathing using your diaphragm, do this by pushing you belly out when you inhale air. Repeat for 10 breaths.
• Pelvic floor activation – Standing with a neutral spine try contracting the pelvic floor muscles at the back then through to the front, e.g. stop your self going to the toilet at the back then the front. Repeat this wave of muscle contractions 10 times
• Stomach muscle activation (upwards) – Tense your stomach in a wave like method from the bottom to the top. e.g. draw in your stomach area below your belly button, then above your belly button before finally the very top of the abdominals. Relax and repeat this wave of muscle tensing for 10 repetitions.
• Stomach muscle activation (Laterally) – Tense your stomach in a wave like method from the left hand side to the right hand side and back e.g. draw in your stomach muscles on the very left hand side, then the middle, then the right hand side. Relax, then repeat the contraction from right to left. Repeat 10 times.
• Core pulsing – Using a wall find your neutral spine, now breath using your diaphragm, now engage your core by contracting the pelvic floor then traverse abdominals (the stomach muscles below your belly button down to your pubic bone). Squeeze all these muscles (‘the core’) as tight as possible for five second then relax, repeat 10 times.
• Core Hold – Follow the previous exercise to engage the core muscles, this time hold for as long as possible. Gradually build up to a minute.
This routine should not take long and needs to be performed regularly at first until the body is used to activating the core without too much effort. Once achieved you should then go on to a regular core training programme.
Achieve the body you want! You can do this by following a six month training plan in my Optimal rugby performance e-book programme.