Misuse of “Core” Terminology

A topic I have been thinking about lately – core training – is an expansion of what is in my book 30 Minute Body.  Sometimes a new client will tell me that their doctor or chiropractor or someone else has told them that they have a “weak core” or they need to “strengthen their core.”

I have a problem with this. You see, you can’t have a weak core and a strong body, nor a strong core and a weak body. If you have a strong body, you will automatically have a strong core. If you have a weak core, you will automatically have a weak body.

You can have a strong body and have some weak core muscles, as I discuss in the 30 Minute Body section on injury prevention and rehabilitation. You can have an imbalanced core in which specific areas or muscles are affected. To cure this, I design a specific course of action to rehabilitate the affected weakness and bring back a proper balanced core.

There is a difference between muscles that are weak and muscles that are unconditioned. You can have strong core muscles, but they might not be conditioned for a certain use. You can also have well-conditioned muscles that are not strong. For example, I am a powerlifter, which means I am very strong for a single-rep lift. But I am not necessarily conditioned to run a 10K. Likewise, a 10K runner probably doesn’t have leg muscles conditioned for a single rep max squat.

A three-day-a-week, 30-minute workout program will give most people a baseline of good overall health and fitness. From the baseline, you can gear your training program to enhance a desired sport or activity. But remember – you can never train to handle every type of challenge.

So if you hear someone say that their core is weak, call on your common sense. Just because something is the latest fad or everyone is talking about it doesn’t change what’s really so. Please don’t follow the leader. Make sure you’re using the information you’ve learned and common sense.

By Lance McCullough