Every once in a while I’ll hear someone ask who is new to CrossFit, “Hey, when are we going to work on our core?” Now, I’ll admit, before I started CrossFit, I may have asked the same question. To most, the “core” are your abdominal muscles, your six-pack and the best way to train them are to do a thousand crunches a day or squeeze yourself into the newest greatest ab-blast machine and get to work. Not only is this completely mind numbing to do every day but absolutely useless for real functional abdominal strength. In CrossFit, midline stabilization is what we are after.
So, what exactly is midline stabilization? To better understand this we should start with some very rudimentary anatomy. Your spine is made up of a bunch of disks that stack up on top of each other. Running alongside these disks are a group of long ropey muscles called your spinal erectors. Surrounding your lower spine you have a large group of muscles that wrap around your body like a belt giving your “core” support. In your upper body you have a bunch of muscles around your scapulas that attach your shoulders to your spine. Like I said, rudimentary. We don’t need to get particularly geeky and specifically list each muscle or talk about each muscle’s insertion and origin point. We just care that they are all doing their job when needed. Whatever sort of human movement you are performing, it is always important to stabilize the spine. If the spine is not immobilized you will flex forward or bend backward. When the body is not under load, with a healthy spine this may not be of major concern but put a barbell on your back or pick something heavy up from the ground and you better make sure your midline is stabilized.
What sort of movements improve your ability to maintain midline stabilization you may ask? Functional movements. What do we do in CrossFit? Nothing but functional movements. For a much more articulate way of describing exactly what midline stabilization is check out this video by CrossFit’s resident mobility guru Kelly Starrett. And last but not least, the video that was the inspiration for this post by CrossFit’s founder Greg Glassman
Max Reps Pushups
Max Reps Supine Ring Pullups (feet should be up on box or bench for Rx’d)
3 sets total for each movement
8 KB swings (70/53)