I recently put together a short blog post on core strength and sandbag training. Check it out here:
Here's an excerpt:
"Core strength seems to be on everyone’s mind right now. Trainers and coaches are talking about it, your doctor is recommending it and even the mainstream media are telling us that it’s a good thing.
But what is core strength?
The answer is in the question. It’s strength. Specifically, it’s best described as the strength to maintain correct spinal alignment in a variety of positions and under particular stresses. In short, core strength means that you can do stuff without messing up your back. Unfortunately the vast majority of people think that core strength just means ‘ab work’.
By taking a broad definition of core strength i.e. any muscles that assist in maintaining good posture, we can also see why it’s so important to include a range of exercises that work every muscle group...."
Thanks Neckhammer - I also think it's important to think of core strength (and any physical competency for that matter) as a function. There are so many factors that impact it that people shouldn't get bogged down in the details too much. We just added a new (and incredibly detailed) ebook on the posterior chain to Fitedia:
Hip Extension Torque – Fitedia
I think there is a really interesting relationship between the posterior chain and core strength. In most cases there is a linear relationship between both. I'd even go as far to say that without a focus on the posterior chain as a whole, people can forget about a strong core - or at least it being of any practical use.
I've been noticing some increased soreness after workouts in many of the core muscles, not just the bits most people think of as "core" around the waist, but also up through the back and ribcage and down into the hips/pelvis--the kind of soreness that indicates working those muscles, not injury soreness. I think this is a result of working so much lately on compound lifts--as I've gained strength in them, I've had to recruit more muscle groups because I'm now at the point with an overhead press, for example, where I need to bring all those muscles in the torso into play to get the weight up because my arms on their own aren't enough. Core recruitment was always noticeable on my squats and deadlifts, but I'm just recently really experiencing it with the pressing movements, where I think my recent gains are mostly a result of better recruitment of those core muscles.
Despite the fact that I'm working with barbells and not sandbags, I think your article definitely confirms my experiences lately. Thanks for sharing it!
“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde
There are many parallels between sandbag stuff and barbell and dumbbell stuff. Stabilising a free weight is inherently good for core strength.
I've just put together an article on multi-planar stress and movement as a means to improve core strength - I'll share it as soon as it's live.
Owly, overhead press totally does a number on my core, too. I think it's the hardest one for my core muscles. Everything on the back, the front and even the sides.
Years ago I had a job where my boss told me to toss a 100lb bag of sand into the back of the truck and let's go. Ha ha he had to be joking! I wrestled that thing onto a stool somehow. I wish I could remember how because it wasn't like I picked it up and placed it on the stool, I only remember vaguely a bunch of random struggling. I rolled the stool to the truck bed and slid the bag into the truck. Your sand bag thing looks awesome. Maybe I can find a 100lb bag of sand at Home Depot.
Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 180 x 2. Current Deadlift: 230 x 2
Any odd object lifting is great for strength and stability. You could always add a couple of smaller bags to a duffel if you can't find a 100lb sandbag.