Guest Post: Boost your Weightlifting Efforts with Core Exercises

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Our latest post comes from the wonderful and talented Samantha Olivier from Ripped.me. We’re delighted to have Samantha featured on the site again and know you’ll enjoy her latest piece.

Sadly, many weightlifters only want to work their biceps and chest, not paying much attention to anything else. However, your legs, core, and back are necessary for optimal sports performance in all disciplines. In weightlifting, you lift hundreds of pounds and you do it rapidly, so even a highly trained and experienced athlete may happen to catch the barbell out of position.

If you’re a weightlifter, what you want to do is strengthen your ability to maintain a neutral spine position, by performing appropriate exercises, as well as those that will have you strong when you’re out of position. There’s always a chance that it may happen, so you’d better be physically prepared for it.

Core strength

The core engages during breathing or movement to protect the spine. A collection of muscles, the core moves and stabilizes. Its inner core is comprised of the transverse abdominus, deep cervical flexors, multifidi, pelvic floor, and diaphragm, while the outer core assembly is made of the hip flexors, quadratus lumborum, glute complex, spinal erects, lats, and abdominals.

To put it simply, the core creates stiffness that limits extension, rotation, lateral flexion, and flexion – excessive movement in any direction. When performing the deadlift, squat, overhead press, and bench press, the spine needs to hold a firm position (made possible by the core muscles), so the shoulder and the hip can move with force.

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When you’re able to maintain a neutral spine position during the lift, it will allow you to transfer as much force as possible from your legs, through the arms and core, into the barbell. Planks are good for your core, but most athletes find them to be too easy after a while. However, the RKC plank is much harder, and it doesn’t work strength as much as it does endurance. The perfect exercise for strengthening your core for weightlifting. Also, don’t miss out on goblet squats, face pulls, and deadlifts.

Core strengthening exercises

Landmine rainbow. With this exercise, you affect your core by moving your arms in an arc, while keeping your ribcage and spine stable. It lets you use the barbell to unlock a different array of exercises, as the weight turns and twist while you use it as a lever.

One end of the barbell should be placed in a landmine, while you grab the other end with your arms extended, facing the landmine. The barbell end should be at eye-level. Twist it to one side without turning your shoulders or hips and keeping your arms straight.

Barbell side bend. With side bends, you target your obliques. Instead of using dumbbells, use a barbell to increase the intensity on your sides, because the level arm is longer and there is more weight. It’s easier to move dumbbells held at your sides than a seven-foot long bar. Hold a barbell behind your neck, stand with your legs hip-width apart, bend your torso to the side, and try to get the barbell almost vertical.

Zercher squat. This is a squat variation that blasts your core. When doing a zercher squat, you hold the weight in front of your body, but as you try to stay tall and avoid falling – your core will work like never before. Take the barbell and put it in the crook of your elbows, with your hands held together by your chest. Put your toes slightly out while standing shoulder-width apart, squat by sitting back, keeping your weight on your heels. When your hips are below parallel, drive through your heels and stand up. Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together and your lower back flat throughout the squat.

Jumping trampoline

Going up and down on a trampoline is much fun (I bet most of you haven’t done it since childhood), but it can also provide a full-body workout by really challenging your lower-body muscles. You can run through all the exercises, such as front/side arm raises, jumping jacks, core rotations, AB rocks, torpedo jumps, biceps/triceps bounces, and high knees, find your favorites, and incorporate them in your regular workout routine. You can visit FLIPnOUTXtreme to see what a paradise for your core looks like, and train to the max. Remember, it’s all about jumping with precision and control, not how high you can jump.

The strength of your mid-section determines the amount of force you’re able to exert during lifting. Whatever type of physique we talk about, the core is its centerpiece. Take up these exercises to work you core effectively, and keep it healthy and strong.

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