For optimal results, the core should be trained in a few different ways. Functionally, for stability, in isolation and with isometric contractions.Training the core functionally would include exercises such as a one-legged, one-arm cable row. Functional exercises mimic movements we use in sport or in daily life. This exercise would also be a stability exercise, as the core is contracted throughout to stabilize. Every time you row, the core is strengthened as well (and when doing one-sided exercises, the obliques really compensate for the weight shifting to one side). In order to train the abdominals in isolation, you must stabilize or "freeze" most parts of the body, except that which you are working. The position of the pelvis in incredibly important in abdominal training. A pelvic tilt involves tucking the tailbone downward and pulling the pubic bone upward. When you hold this position, you crunch into an already tilted pelvis. This ensures that the range of motion does not get lost in other areas of the body (such as the quads), but rather remains concentrated on the area you wish to strengthen. If you are doing crunches on a ball, for example, tilt your pelvis, keep it secured (cemented), and ensure that the legs stay in the exact same angle. Push the lower back tightly into the ball as you crunch up, and you will have activated the sometimes-difficult-to-train transverse abdominis, which is embedded underneath your rectus abdominis (the long strip that runs from ribcage to pelvis. Don't neglect rotational exercises! Internal and external obliques are a tremendously important component of our abdominal anatomy, responsible for better stabilization and twisting mobility. They can be trained with a seated medicine ball twist (details on some of these exercises are in the future of this blog, with accompanying photos). Finally, isometric contractions strengthen the core in balance, from the inside out. Isometric contractions are those which you hold, and are unmoving. A plank is probably the simplest / finest example of this in the core world. While in a plank position, gravity is pulling your abdominals and lower back down. You must contract your abdominals (tilt pelvis), closing the gap between the ribcage and hipbone, to keep the lower back strongly supported and straight, without lifting the hips (which is the body's way of trying to pull the abdominals out of the equation, or take away the challenge from gravity!).
For a program or for more information, contact me. But I guarantee you, when you train your core thoroughly and properly, you will feel the results in absolutely everything you do. There is no better feeling than having a strong core (it ain't bad to look at, either)!