In a new paper found in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, integration core exercises have been found to produce much better results than moves that seek to isolate particular muscles.
Many organisations and government bodies advocate core training as a means to improve stability, reduce injury and maintain mobility. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of change in core exercises. From endless crunches through to the use of all manner of machines, or more recently the shift from situps to planks.
There is still a question over whether you should isolate particular muscles when performing core exercises, or go for a routine that integrates many areas at once. This research serves to answer that question.
In the research, a group of men and women were asked to perform different exercises while having activity measured in their anterior deltoid, rectus abdominus, external abdominal oblique, lumbar erector spinae, thoracic erector spinae and gluteus maximus.
The results were clear.
Activation in the abdominal and lumbar muscles was greatest during exercises that required deltoid and gluteal recruitment.
Two great examples of integration core exercises are the gym ball rollout and the gym ball pike. In place of a gym ball for the rollout, you can also use an ab wheel to deliver a similar activation of distal trunk musculature.
The gym ball rollout has you in a plank position with your forearms resting on a ball. You then roll your arms forward and pull them back. The pike has you place your feet on the ball and roll it forward until you are in a pike position with your glutes in the air.
Although you won’t want to remove isolation core exercises from your routine, we recommend switching the majority of your core section to an ‘integration core exercise’ for best effect. In the research, muscle activation was as high as 200% greater with integration core exercises than in the isolation routines.