Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Torso is the Key

The key to optimal power and strength production is the torso.  If you don't have a strong torso, or don't know how to utilize it properly, you aren't lifting to your full potential.  A strong torso doesn't mean having a six pack, and it most certainly doesn't mean how many crunches, twists or contortions you can do.

What it means is having the ability to stabilize your spine under load in order to transfer energy and power from your body into the ground, bar, person, etc.  Think about this for a moment - does energy transfer better through a hard object or a soft object? (Hint - not a soft object)  If you're not stabilizing your torso correctly and are soft, the energy and power you're trying to exert is being absorbed and lost.

In a previous post, Be Thankful, I briefly mentioned that barbell work is the perfect solution to building torso strength.  Sean Waxman of Waxman's Gym wrote an exceptional article explaining in blunt detail the importance of torso strength and how to develop it in order to optimize power production.  Barbells, barbells and more barbells!

Sean points out that the majority of "core" stability fads, exercises and drills that the mainstream seem to drool over are often derived from Physical Therapy protocols.  These type of protocols are "designed to restore normal movement and function, which has been threatened by injury."  Don't get me wrong, if you're injured or recovering from injury, implement those type of exercises in your regime.  If you're healthy and can move around pain free, however, rely on the barbell to strengthen your torso.  A barbell, or more traditional Strength & Conditioning protocol is "designed to enhance normal movement and function in order to improve athletic attributes."

Don't expect to see much improvement, if any, should you decide to rely on Physical Therapy protocols to strengthen your "core" or torso through isolation movements that work on flexion and extension.  Once the focus turns to torso stabilization and strength, you'll be headed on the right path.

No need to get fancy.  Keep it simple.  Don't get distracted by fads.  The barbell and the basic exercises you can do with it are time tested.  Grab a bar, some bumper plates, and start squatting, pulling and pressing!

Strong torso = stable upright position in the squat!

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