Trunk Strength – The Answer is Simple

Photo by: yewenyi

Working The Trunk

There must be lots to learn about core strength, as every month there is an accumulation of magazine articles, web posts, and whispered advice related to: core exercises for men, best core exercises, core workouts…etc.

I prefer the term trunk to core and don’t think anything was gained by adding new terminology, particularly, given this definition for core strength: The balanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back.

Duke Kahanamoku - That's a Solid Trunk

What works the trunk?  Everything works the trunk.  Look back at the definition, if you can’t stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, you can’t exercise…if you can’t stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, you can’t sit up, crawl, or walk.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I bet Michael Phelps didn’t build abs like this by doing Hard Core – Exercises to Strengthen Your Abs For Better Performance.  He got in the pool and swam.  If you do something athletic on a regular basis, then, as you improve, you will strengthen the muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body.

Photo by: marcopako

The secret to building a solid trunk is to do something athletic.  Swim, run, lift, ski, hike, do tai chi in the park, ride a bicycle along the river…they will all work your trunk.

Note: If you want abs like Michael Phelps, you have to drop your body fat percentage.  I’ve seen fighters with rock solid abdominal and low back strength with belly’s that don’t look anything like that, until they cut weight.  Keep in mind while athletes are getting to and maintaining ultra-low body fat percentages, keeping them from getting sick is a major concern. But that’s another post for another time…

Don’t Sweat the technique

I am not saying don’t do exercises that focus on your trunk.   I am saying don’t worry about finding the 10 Most Effective Core Exercises Ever.

As part of building a solid foundation in your sport, you will likely be doing trunk specific exercises to help you perform better.  That’s fine. Your coach, instructor, classmates, fellow athletes and friends will be more than happy to hook you up with some challenging exercises.

Zumba Time

Think you have pretty solid trunk strength and want to challenge yourself, then get out of your comfort zone.  Rob over at Combat Trainer recently did exactly that.  He lost a bet and ended up paying it off by enjoying a Zumba class.  I wouldn’t be surprised if his abs, lower back, and hips felt a little sore after all of that dancing.

My recommendation for getting out of your comfort zone and working your trunk…go horseback riding.  If you aren’t riding on a regular basis, even if you’ve done everything you need to sculpt a rock-solid midsection, your trunk is going to feel it.

Stabilize, Align, and Move

Photo by: pmorgan

Dave Sandel from Athlete Creator took the DIY approach and built his own set of challenges.

Otherwise, let the Diesel Crew teach you how to do dragon flags.

The height of cultivation runs to simplicity. -Bruce Lee

Don’t believe the hype

You don’t have to do a Core Workout to strengthen your trunk, but you have to do something.  Only one thing is guaranteed to kill your trunk strength…remaining sedentary.


4 responses to “Trunk Strength – The Answer is Simple

  1. Nice article! People always ask me what they can do to work the core. I say if you are upright you are working it! Whenever I run an ultra, my abs are always sore after. No sit ups there – just trying to keep myself from falling over!

  2. Great article, it is just too bad that the stigma of direct “core/ab work” is the only way to get a strong core or six pack.

    Hopefully with more articles like these, this paradigm will shift

    • Thanks Doug – Makes you wonder what they would do with magazine covers if they couldn’t mention direct core/ab work…

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