Crossfit Core Workout – Build a Rock Solid Foundation
There’s nothing more important than building a rock solid core for Crossfit, choosing the right Crossfit core workout is important. Both for your short and long term Crossfit career.
It’s not until we injure ourselves that we start becoming more aware of our weaknesses, it’s often after a few intense workouts that those problem areas start to become apparent. Crossfitter’s tend to get all sorts of issues from time to time, the most common are linked to big leg movements such as squats and olympic movements such as the snatch, these often contribute to injuries. For beginners, the volume of work can lead to fatigue which results in the form becoming very sloppy, this has happened to me more than once!
Instead of telling you what the best Crossfit core workouts are, instead I will run you through some exercises that will indirectly build you a solid core.
The basic core muscles
We all know about abs, but the core is made of a few muscles in the mid-section. It isn’t good enough to have just abs, complete core development is where the strength really is. Here are the main areas which we will touch on.
The core from the front
We all want these, the sexy six pack. This area comprises of upper, middle and lower areas, each have their specific uses. The upper abs help you get off of the floor when performing a sit up for example, once your head lifts off of the ground this area is activated. Lower abs are used the most when lifting your legs up in the air, exercises such as the Jack Knife and hanging Leg Raises.
The Obliques help you twist from side to side, both horizontally and vertically. This very important core muscle group will help keep your body steady when performing heavy lifting. A perfect addition to any Crossfit core workout.
The core from the back
One of the most vulnerable areas of the core, the Lower back takes a massive amount of pounding in Crossfit Workouts. Almost every weight based movement relies on these muscles to hold the body upright. Your squats and deadlift benefit from a strong lower back, strict form and technique is vital to keep this muscle healthy.
Commonly know as the “Lats”, this large muscle group connects the upper, lower together. Their primary function is keep your upper back erect, although not directly part of the core area it plays role when performing olympic movements.
Top Crossfit core workout exercises
These are good Crossfit core builders, they are chosen primarily because they strengthen the core indirectly. Remember, Crossfit is about utilising as much of the body as possible, no isolation movements allowed! If this is the first time seeing these exercises in action, please start with little or no weight to begin with. It is highly recommended that you find an experienced coach that can teach you these movements in order to avoid injury.
The Crossfit Kettlebell swing
Core burn: Mild
Everyone loves the Crossfit kettlebell swing, a Crossfit favourite and a fantastic way to work the whole body. The movement starts with the Kettle Bell between you legs squatting down with your back straight and your core tight.
Start by thrusting your hips forward and standing up straight, use the momentum of the thrust to get the Kettle Bell travelling up. Let it swing up as high as it goes, you may need to build up the momentum before attempting to swing it overhead, keep your arms locked out, don’t bend your arms or it will fall on your head!
Here is a great video of the movement, watch it a couple of times, start slow with a light weight if you’ve never performed this exercise before.
The trick to getting that core working hard is to keep everything tight on the way up and the way down, the harder you tighten, the bigger the burn. When the Kettle bell swings between your legs focus on crunching squeezing the core, then whilst the Kettle Bell is overhead pull your abs down to help control the weight, this will give you a good stretch.
The Crossfit kettlebell swing, a must for any Crossfit core workout.!
Burpees Crossfit Style
Core burn: Mild
The Burpee Crossfit has made many a grown man cry, many overlook this exercise for core building. This movement can build great endurance in that lower back and mid section area, start by standing upright with the feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands on the ground a foot in front of your feet, then shoot your legs out so you are in a suspended push up position. Reverse the movement by bringing your legs back up by your hands, and finally jump straight up in the air and clap your hands overhead.
The trick to getting that core working is again by tightening it all the way through the movement, pay special attention whilst in the push up position, keep your body completely straight. Avoid arching your lower back when pushing up from the ground, if your core is tight it will prevent the flex in this area, relaxing it will put stress on the lower back. Another tip is to break the movement into 2, first the standing to crouching position, then the shooting out of the legs. After 30 or so Burpees your body will get tired so take it slow and steady to avoid injuries.
Deadlift Crossfit Technique
Core burn: Medium
The bread and butter of all exercises, the Deadlift is the heaviest movement that you can perform. Your hamstrings take much of the strain but your core keeps your body upright whilst holding all of that weight. The idea is to go heavy but technique is far more important, your back is at risk when Deadlifting.
Using a regular or alternating grip (this where your hands are facing different directions). With your chest out and your core tight, pull the bar from the ground straight up, keep the bar close to the body. The hips should be thrusting forward, keeping your hamstrings and butt super tight. To activate the core more so, keep your whole mid section tight at all times without relaxing, this will keep the burn throughout the Crossfit core workout, be careful though, your core will burn out fast.
An effective Deadlift will build an iron core, your lower back will increase in strength with regular workouts. Include a heavy session of Deadlifts every week and alternate with a high rep, light weight variation for endurance.
Thrusters Crossfit Technique
Core burn: Medium
The Thruster is total body workout, it works various muscle groups making it a huge compound movement. Thrusters get you exhausted fast, getting your form 100% in this movement is absolutely vital, if you haven’t performed a front squat before or shoulder presses, I would suggest mastering those before diving into these.
Begin with taking the bar off the rack, it must be across across your shoulders with your fingers under the bar and elbows right out. Squat down with your core tight so it keeps the bar from pulling your body forward, then as you squat up drive the knees out and use your hips to thrust your hips forward. Be explosive with this movement as this will give the bar momentum to travel up, once you’ve reached the top push the bar up overhead and pull your head through so you are looking straight ahead.
Core burn: Hot
One of Crossfit’s signature movements, not only is it challenging, it really tests that core strength. By default your core is engaged from the start, with hands wide apart you begin by performing a Snatch to get that weight overhead. Simply holding the bar activates that core, make sure those shoulders are active while you decent into the squat. It’s vitally important that your back remains straight and the core is tight.
On the way up the bar might feel shaky so pay close attention to your balance, thrust your hips forward as you would in a normal squat.
Your core can be worked hard in the majority of Crossfit exercises, isolated core movements are very effective too but using your core whilst performing complex compound movements will bring everything together. Make your body a strong efficient unit that works together.