Core work may be an afterthought when you create your workout plan—especially if you’re focused on improving the way you move, not sculpting your six-pack. According to Dr. Aaron Horschig, DPT, of Squat University, however, you should be doing some core work every day to help improve you core stability.
“Efficient core stability training will allow you to move better and produce more power,” says Horschig.”The emphasis is on limiting excessive or unwanted motion at our spine so we can have awesome carry over to the exercises we’re looking to perform in the gym like your squat, your deadlift, your bench, and your clean and snatch.”
He calls the exercises The McGill Big 3, since they are based on research from by Dr. Stuart McGill.
The moves are:
- Side Plank
- Bird Dog
Horschig walks through how to do each move.
“I have been doing the McGill Big 3 before every single workout the past year and I’ve seen crazy carryover into how well and how powerful I’m moving in my workout,” he says. “qOn my off days, I still do this.”
Drop one foot and have your hands under your low back, which act as pressure sensors, and will pick up if you start to round your back. Hold for 10 seconds, 6 reps.
“Brace your core, turning on all your muscles. Pick your head slightly off the floor and hold for 10 seconds. We’re trying to emphasize stability by getting those muscles to kick on and lock the spine in place,” he says.
Horschig starts in a modified plank, then moves to a full side plank.
“This is a great exercise for hitting that downside part of your core, and your lateral hip, your glute mideus,” he says.
Hold for 10 seconds, back down for 6 reps on each side.
“Very low load on the spine but working those muscles, the erectors of your spine,” he says. “Brace your core and you’re going to go right hand extension, left leg kick out. Hold it for 10 whole seconds. After that, keep your spine braced. We’re sweeping under the body, touching, and back out.”
A few extra tips for the bird dog:
Avoid kicking your leg too wide. “It over-arches and extends your back. I want that foot only a couple inches off the ground,” Hornig advises.
Make a fist as hard as you can in your arm. “When you do that you’re going to light up your upper back muscles as well,” he adds. “If you do the bird dog correctly and create as much tension from fist to foot, this is going to be tough. You’re should be sweating by the time you’re done with this.”
For any extra tips, check out our guide here.