There is a dangerous fallacy doing rounds in the fitness community that you do not need to isolate your core when working out. This is because it is assumed we do core every day. This is not true and the more you skip core work, the lower your overall capability sinks.
Many CrossFit athletes have seen their risk of injury increase partially because of certain overdeveloping muscles at the expense of others. You cannot exercise your core by doing random sets of sit-ups at the tail-end of your workouts. You need targeted CrossFit workouts.
To get the most out of your core musculature, you must train all its capabilities including stability, compression, rotation, and bowing. In case you are wondering how to go about this, read along for more insights.
If you frequent CrossFit gyms, you must have heard athletes talking about stability. This is a common core function that supports weight-bearing exercises. One of the aspects that are overlooked in core stability is anterior pelvic tilt. This can make the lower back to overarch and ultimately difficult to exercise the abdominal muscles.
The best CrossFit workouts to correct this are; hollow holds and hollow rocks. They contract the lower abdomen and the glutes thus exercising them.
This is another core function that comes in different variations. Basically, core compression involves bending at the hip and bringing your face toward your legs and vice versa. The most common and favorite variation of core compression is the leg raise.
This is where you hang from a bar, shoulders relaxed and blocked. Then, you lift your legs towards your face. One thing you will appreciate is that due to limited mobility, achieving full range of motion may be a tough call at the beginning, but progressively you can work towards it.
There are many CrossFit workouts you can use to train your core rotation. Exercises such as side plank twists, Russian twists, and twisting back extensions are all great. However, the ultimate goal in CrossFit training is to be able to do the L-wiper.
This movement can be done by first hanging with your shoulders blocked and relaxed. Then, with purposeful and controlled movement, keep your legs straight as you sweep from zero to 180 degrees in a pike position. If you are keen enough, you will notice that your legs are moving just like a windshield wiper.
If you could run a test in most CrossFit gyms, you will find that some of the athletes have weak and tight obliques. This is because the bowing core function is rarely trained in some of these spaces. Through targeted bowing exercises such as side plank press-ups, hanging side bends, and standing side bends, you can strengthen and stretch your obliques.
Side plank press-ups are particularly interesting to do. Just get into a side plank position with your body supported by a straight arm. While at this position, bow your hip gradually towards the floor and then back up. As your body tunes up to this exercise, subsequent side planks will be less strenuous to do.
Apart from the CrossFit workouts mentioned above, there are many other exercises to help you train your core functions. The rule is to cover all core functions at least once a week.