Weight training versus Core training

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Weight training with core stability

When we talk about core muscles or stability, we think of the nicely toned, six-pack abs. However, this simply isn’t the case and having six-pack abs does not necessarily mean you have core stability. 

The idea around core stability is that you are unstable at a joint or body part. In most cases this is recognised as being a lumbar joint but can also be in your neck, knee, hip or even ankle. What are the core muscles that provide stability? There are two types of muscle fibres that we need to consider. Fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibres support quick, powerful movement through its contraction, whereas the slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibres support contraction over a prolonged duration. 

Fast twitch muscle fibres fatigue quickly due to the intensity of contraction and slow twitch muscle fibres are unable to provide the desired movement through its contraction. However, there is no one muscle group that is purely 100% fast twitch or slow twitch but often has a combination of both. 

Depending on your lifestyle, the way you exercise/ train, the ratio between the two types of muscle fibres within a muscle group can vary, that is, if you train for sprinting, then most of the your lower leg muscles will be fast twitch fibres. 

When talking about core stability, these are the muscle groups with the most slow-twitch muscle fibres that can maintain a steady contraction without fatiguing to hold and control the body part or joint. Whilst having other muscle groups (majority of the fast twitch) to produce movement across the joint on top of the stabilised joint. 

In summary, core stability is about being able to control your body movement in a desired manner whilst remaining stable in favour of your physical activity.

When rehabilitating a problem, it is important that the injured joint is stable and pain free with simple low load, core type of movements. Then once you have mastered those movements pain free you can then add load or weights to the movement. That is why you hear so often about doing weight training with good form or correct technique. This is about making sure you contract your stabilising muscles before you do a higher load contraction. So really you are doing both, and making them strong together, if you do it right with the correct education you will get the most benefit.

The group exercise classes we provide at Logan Physio are a great way to learn how to do low load contractions so that you can then progress to higher load activities.