Today is an important topic for every sport especially squash. Today I am going to discuss the importance of developing core strength and flexibility. We use our core to create extra torque in our swings. We also use our core to stay balanced as we hit a shot and to recover back to the T quickly. A strong core takes a long time to build up and is something that requires more then just doing crunches or doing the plank. In squash, there is a lot of rotation of the core so we need to make sure our core is strong not just in a single straight forward plane (like doing a sit up which is in the sagittal plane), but in the rotational transverse plane as well (such as doing opposite elbow to knee crunches).
I recently purchased a book called Core Strength Training published by Dorling Kindersley (DK) in 2013. I don't usually buy exercise books as we can get so much for free online, but I really liked how they layer this book out. They list over 150 core exercises and put them in order from easiest to more challenging. They then go through each one step by step in a two page layout explaining how to do each exercise. Having proper technique is so pivotal for doing core work. I find many people (especially kids) have a pretty weak core so they end up using other muscle groups to do the 'core' routine. This not only puts strain on other parts of the body but it also completely misses the objective of the exercise. My rule is once your technique is compromised, stop the exercise. You don't have to do 20 or 30 reps to have a good workout and improve your strength. Start small with good form and build up slowly. I highly recommend this book to those of you who not only enjoy a good picture book, but want to learn some new core routines. At the end of the book they help you set up your own core routine and suggest the number of sets and reps you should do for each exercise.
Okay, so my new core book is not the only experience I have recently with core training. Since I hurt my knee way back when I wanted to stay active and knew I had to do less aerobic activity and strength work with my lower body so I decided to focus on my core and upper body. For the pat 4 months or so I've done 3-4 core workouts per week with a variety of exercises. I feel like my core strength has improved dramatically. I've also started doing some yoga and enjoy the more dynamic and fluid core exercises some of the sessions have. Yesterday I came across the best yoga core workout routine to date. Here is the link for those that want to have a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tSzdEP7Tzk
You can tell from the lady instructing the course how ripped her abs are. After doing the workout I can see why. I made it through it, but there is no way I could have 4 months ago. There are very few breaks between exercises. This may be a lot for those new to core training. If you already have a pretty strong core and do some yoga then give it a shot and see how you do. This is only considered an intermediate workout so I'm going to do it a few more times before trying her advanced class. I've never done the same online yoga session twice, but I will for sure with this one. Let me know if you do it and what you think. If you have a link to another good core workout routine please send it to me.
Normally I'll do core routine at least 2-3 times per week and usually I'll do at least 5-6 different exercises. It doesn't take long, maybe 15-25 minutes and you can get in a good workout. The most important part is finding a way to incorporate it into your routine. Have set days or times or maybe even do it after your league match or with a friend after your hit. At least for me I find this is the best method to stick to a new programme. Depending on your current level and how frequently you train, you're probably looking at 5-6 weeks until you feel some noticeable strength and flexibility improvement.
Ok, that's about it for my core strengthening post. Today on my 74th post I'll be going over 10,000 total views. So it's good to know someone is ready what I write, or at least skimming through! Hope you enjoyed my post today and learned a couple of things. And hopefully I've motivated you to begin or amp up your core training. Your legs may be sore and need a break from your squash training, if so take some time to improve your core strength and I bet you'll be hitting the ball harder and will feel more balanced on the court. As a bonus you may also improve your posture and feel more confident at the beach!!