Anatomy Review:

  • General core musculature consists of the Rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique’s, transverse abdominis, erector spinae and quadratus lumborum.

Basic Core Principles:

  • Muscles that are designed for movement (concentric and eccentric contraction) originate directly from a piece of bone and insert directly into a piece of bone. For example, the biceps brachii, comes from the coracoid process (bone) and the supra glenoid tubercle (bone) and inserts into the ulna and the radius (bone). So its job is to pull that piece of bone closer to the other piece of bone and perform contractions.

  • However, core muscles originate from large sheets of connective tissue and insert into other sheets of connective tissue. There is not a direct bony link for these muscles. This Indicates that “Core muscles were not designed to produce movement, they were designed to PREVENT it” (McGill, 2010)

  • Movement through our spine (i.e. flexion, extension, lateral bend, rotation) leads to low back pain. It is important that we maintain a neutral lumbar position during all exercises for the spine’s integrity and health.

Categories of Core Training:

Below are examples and instructions of isometric core exercises for each category.

Anti-extension: to prevent lumbar extension.


  • Prone on forearms and toes
  • Brace the core and maintain a neutral spine
  • Repeat exercise

Anti-flexion: to prevent lumbar flexion.

Bird Dog

  • Prone position on hands and knees
  • Brace the core and maintain a neutral spine
  • Begin by raising one arm and extend the opposite the leg until parallel with the floor, return to start position
  • Raise other arm and extend opposite leg, and repeat the exercise

Anti-lateral bend: to prevent lumbar lateral flexion

Suitcase Carry

  • Stand with an upright posture
  • Hold a moderate to heavy dumbbell in one hand
  • Make sure your shoulders are down and back
  • Brace the core and maintain a neutral spine
  • Walk for distance or time
  • Repeat on the other side

Anti-rotation: to prevent lumbar rotation

Shoulder Taps

  • Prone position on hands and toes, hands should be directly underneath shoulders
  • Brace the core and maintain a neutral position
  • Lift one hand and touch the opposite shoulder
  • DO NOT rotate at the hips, widen feet to regress the exercise
  • Repeat on the other side


1. McGill, S. (2010). Core training: Evidence translating to better performance and injury prevention. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 32(3), 33-46.

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