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Core strengthening

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Hi, everyone,

I apologize that this is not an ST related topic or even a stretching related topic, but I wanted to ask my question here because I feel I can truly trust your opinion of health in general.  I'm looking to incorporate a core strengthening routine into my week, alongside my ST routine, for no more than 30 minutes at a time.


Can you recommend such a routine on YouTube?  I know there are many many options there but perhaps there's one you are already familiar with and find the exercises (and the instructions) accurate and safe and effective?


Thank you!

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@Nathan - thank you for bringing the bodyline exercises to our attention again. I have a question - why in the Plank is there to be a hollow shape in the upper chest (which also leads to rounding of the shoulders)? I can see that it is bad to "hang off the shoulders" by not sufficiently activating the muscles that stabilise the shoulders, but I find it best if the spine is as straight as possible all the way. This needs more care in activating the shoulder muscles but I think strengthens the shoulders in the neutral position, rather than with shoulders pulled together at the front.

It also helps with assessing the line, to get the hips, legs, and back all in one dead straight line, which I find is critical for maximum value in this exercise.



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@Jim Pickles: there are an infinite number of shapes that the spine can make in the plank, once you're strong enough. The only reason the gymnasts protract the shoulders maximally and pull the ribs as close to the pubic bone as possible (so flexed thoracic spine) is to obtain maximum strength in the "hollow body" shape. This is the shape they are trying to maintain when doing their tumbling, for example.

But the ST version of the plank uses a straighter spine, and one of the reasons is to develop the capacity to control the shape of the spine in all shapes and all versions of the plank—from hyper extension through artificially straight (tail tucked; chest lifted; neck neutral) all the way to the fully flexed, shoulders protracted version the gymnasts train. "We don't want one position; we want all positions!" (R. Rod, pers. comm.).

And in the PDF @Nathan Takase linked to, you can see Olivia demonstrating this shape alteration in the side plank, and she demonstrates a perfectly straight spine in the handstand section. The crucial point is that developing maximum strength in the gymnastics plank then allows you to explore all spinal positions. As the PDF points out, a full plank requires co-contraction of literally every muscle in the body; this is surprisingly difficult to do, but it will develop whole-body strength quite quickly. We intend to put out some programs on this very subject some time this year.

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What Kit said. The hollow-body position with maximum protraction is important for gymnastics because it strengthens the shoulder girdle and creates stability. This is important for dynamic movements, like tumbling, but also for difficult static positions, like the full planche. The hollow-body plank can (theoretically) be progressed to a full planche by gradually leaning further forward until the feet eventually lift away from the ground. At this point, that maximum protraction will likely result in a neutral position due to the strength required to hold the planche:


There are, of course, other important body shapes. In Emmet's handstand courses, for example, he emphasizes the "dish" hold, which keeps a much straighter spine and transfers better to handbalancing. As Kit said, we want all the shapes!

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Indeed, thanks for the insightful explanations! 🙏

I do 10 minute variations of this core workout around 4 times a week:

On two other days I do a longer  strength workout focused on feet, legs, glutes, shoulders and arms.

Started doing this a couple of weeks ago and I really notice an improvement in my running form and endurance on longer runs as I'm training for ultra's

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