Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Exactly Does “Use Your Core” Mean?

Not much, actually.

You hear it all the time – the TV trainer (aka: actor), the guy offering his two-bits at the public gym, the well-meaning but completely clueless friend trying to help you learn how to lift the couch... but it usually means that the speaker either has no idea what they’re talking about, or they’re just reciting an instruction out of habit. The problem is that it’s just such a broad statement, with the definition being dependent on the individual, the situation, the movement, and the desired outcome. This is not to say that I believe the speaker should go into deep biomechanical detail (unless you want them to) – but frankly, telling someone to “use their core” is such a generalized and non-specific instruction that it is about as useful as saying “use your body”.

Now, I think it’s only fair to be honest and acknowledge that I have caught myself saying this on occasion. Early in my career, it was often because I really didn’t have a grip on what I was doing, so along with “Nice work”, “You’ve got this”, and “Keep those shoulders back” I’d add in the occasional “Use your core!” But while it can still slip out every now and then when my mouth gets ahead of my brain, I always try to follow it up with a little more actual coaching when I catch myself uttering this hated phrase.

So the next time you hear your trainer/coach say to you “Use your core” – ask them to clarify what they mean.

Even if it’s me. :)


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