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Optimal Core Training at Studio 41

Studio 41 is known for its cutting edge techniques, incorporating functional primal training patterns with time efficient methods. Our focus is on repairing the damage of modern life and teaching the body to work to its optimal abilility, using excellent training and nutrition practices.

We pride ourselves in continual research and development of methods with a thoughtful approach to educating our clients and teaching team.

One element you may have noticed is that old school core practices, like sit ups, crunches and planks, never feature in our classes. This is because we use much safer and far more efficient and effective core training techniques as part of your overall workout.

So why don't we use old school methods?

Sit ups, crunches and planks create intra-abdominal pressure and spinal pressure. As well as over tightening the anterior chain of muscles (muscles at the front of your body), the pressure created by these exercises can lead to prolapse of the spinal discs and pelvic organs, aswell as rectus abdominus separation.

These injuries are more likely if you spend hours a day sitting at a desk, driving a car, have ever been pregnant, or are carrying more than normal healthy body fat.

The primary function of the core is to act as a conduit between the legs and the arms, providing stability whilst coiling, flexing and extending through natural primal movements, like when running, twisting, climbing.

It is not designed to hold you in stress positions, such as a plank.

One of the major problems/deficiencies with planking is it's almost impossible to self assess whether your core is maintaining structural integrity and if you require regression of the exercise, ie, you are losing cylindrical shape at the core muscles, which can appear as doming or even worse, creates internal rear pressure leading to deep internal hernia.

You might also notice straining around the neck and shoulders. or feel a build up of pressure in your face as your blood pressure increases.

However, you may not notice anything at all while you endure the general discomfort of the exercise.

"But I love the feeling these exercises give me"

Just because an exercise feels super intense and like it's burning your way into a six pack, doesn't mean it's actually doing you any good. We also have to ask ourselves if the exercise is actually functional, meaning it replicates a movement we would use in daily life. Planks are definitely not functional.

You may feel pressurised into performing certain exercises by social media, especially with the advent of fitness challenges. I'm sure you've all seen the 100 day plank challenge to raise awareness for various social issues. Sadly, these ideas are not created by people whom understand anatomy, rather by well meaning marketeers, who could use a little anatomy education.

Oh, and to go back to "six packs", you'll only get those abs out through optimal nutrition and reduction of body fat percentage. You cannot burn belly fat by doing old school core exercise to spot reduce. It's a lie if anyone says you can.

So what core exercises are we doing at Studio 41?

The most powerful core exercises you participate in are:

Bulgarian bag spins, armthrows, bag snatch:

  • Your core muscles have to work extremely hard to stabilise your spine as you throw that bag around your body. These dynamic exercises take the spine through all its natural movement patterns while keeping the core engaged. Combined with good breathing practice, this is an intense and optimal core exercise.

Russian and heavy swings

  • Your gluteal muscles of the bottom work efficiently with the core and pelvic floor as you thrust the kettlebell away from your body. The glutes, the core and pelvic floor rely on one another for all round stability to keep the pelvis and spine safe and stable. They work as a team to give you total core strength.


  • This restorative method teaches your core to be toned at rest so that when you need the core to switch on, it does so autonomically, firing up the deep internal layers of muscle. Come and learn this method in Pilates and Hypopressives classes with Marie. If you did postbirth classes with Marie you'll already know this exceptional core training technique, and we recommend you do them daily at home after training.

You will still be using your core in all the other exercises we teach as these muscles have to stabilise your spine with every movement. Take your attention to what is happening in your core when you next push two kettlebells over your head. Notice how the tummy muscles engage when you breathe out. Start to appreciate how incredibly your body works for you with every exercise we teach you.

When you train regularly, using all the methods we teach, your core will be strong, toned at rest and able to cope with any challenge life presents.

Keep training, breathe through your nose and have fun!

Studio 41 Fitness Team

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