4 "Core" Training Categories

Coaches -

4 "Core" Training Categories

I thought about making this article less about different ways to train the core and more about today’s misguided obsession with core training, but I’ll save that for another time.

Now you may be thinking from my above statement that I’m not a fan of “core” training, but you would be very wrong. I incorporate a lot of exercises that work on the core for my athletes, but I always have an explanation of why I program it. Oftentimes people do core training to enhance their abs for aesthetics - which is great, but when training for performance there is a lot more to gain.

My 2 goals of core training:

  1. Movement: by setting the pelvis and ribcage, the limbs can move through proper range of motion without the need to ask for help from other areas. This will result in better efficiency for the athlete when they are trying to run, jump, throw, etc.
  2. Resilience: Oftentimes in sport the trunk can be knocked around. An easy example is when soccer players go shoulder to shoulder. We want to be resilient against the opponent so we don't get shoved off the ball.

Just like any piece of programming, I try to organize my approach. For most athletes, I work under 4 different core categories. Anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-lateral flexion, and rotational.


This is the most common category used by athletes and the general population. It’s when the goal is to prevent extension to occur in the lower back. During assessments, this is a common issue - many struggle to not extend from the lower back and slip into excessive anterior pelvic tilt during movements. 

Here are a few examples:

Dead Bugs

Slide Board Body Saws

Ab Wheel

Hollow Body


This has a lot more to do with the soccer example I spoke about before. Anti-rotation has gotten a lot of popularity over the years and in large part due to the “Pallof Press” created by John Pallof. The goal of these exercises is to not allow the trunk to rotate. You generally don't see many of these programmed by the general population.

Here are a few examples:

Pallof Press

Half Kneeling Pallof Circles

Stability Ball Stir The Pot

¼ Turkish Get Up

Anti-Lateral Flexion

Another one that may not get as much love as the ant-extension exercises by the general population, but a great option for targeting the obliques. The goal here is prevent side bend to occur at the trunk.

Here are a few examples: 

DB Side Plank Double Reach

Side Plank + Row

Suitcase Carry

Bent Knee Copenhagen 


I tend to keep rotational core exercises very basic and fluid. Meaning, I am not trying to do loaded complex exercises that could potentially hurt someone. I like to use bed balls and cables for this - this way the movement is not confined to a specific pathway. 

Here are a few exercises:

Bear Stance Double Reach

Staggered Stance Cable Chop

MB Shot Put

All 4 categories have their part in an athlete’s development. I urge you to always start with the basics and progress slowly. Even the simplest of progressions can be challenging for the athlete. 

If you have any questions or thoughts, drop them below!

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