Vertical Core Training Improves Core, Ab Muscles

Crunches Are Not Part of Vertical Core TrainingCrunches are out. Standing core exercises are in.

Strong, muscular abdominals are often seen as sleek and sexy, but looking good is not the only reason to build these essential muscles. Building the core is important because those muscles improve posture, helping the body to stand upright, reduce lower back pain, and help to transfer power from different parts of the body.

For example, try picking up a heavy object without using the core. The abdominals allow strength to be transferred from the legs to the upper body, helping a person to move and pick up heavy and awkward items. Without that core power, moving things would be more difficult.

Exercising for a Flat Stomach

Building core muscle strength is most effective when done in an upright position. Because most people go through the day in a standing or sitting tall position, the body needs to be trained off the floor, simulating real-life, everyday situations.

In comes Vertical Core Training, a program developed by Todd Wright, the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Texas. Vertical Core Training focuses on several key ideas.

Vertical Core Training Strength Program

For starters, the program focuses on the body's anatomy and how the all parts works together. Because of the manner in which muscles attach to one another, moving the foot will start a chain reaction which will force muscles to work up the leg, through the hip, and into the core. Wright believes that keeping the feet active is important, as they are the beginning of all vertical training exercises. Working the core muscles while using the entire body helps to simulate daily life.

The program also focuses on outside forces, such as gravity, the way the body reacts to contact with the ground, and momentum. The program uses gravity as a weight, uses the ground to create energy by pushing through the surface, and momentum to store energy. Wright often uses walking as an example to explain the momentum aspect. Swinging arms create momentum, leading to a diagonal pull through the core, he says, thus storing energy in that area.

Finally, Wright believes in the importance of a mobile thoracic spine. Because each rib is attached to the spine, it is essential to build strength in this area of the body in order to support the rib cage and prevent back injuries and pain. Traditional floor abdominal exercises do not allow for enough mobility to build the necessary strength in this part of the core, according to Wright.

Abdominal Exercises

An example of an exercise included in the Vertical Core Training program include the split-leg over-head press, in which the legs are placed apart, one foot back and the other forward. Bending the knees slightly, take a low-weight dumbbell in each hand and alternate raising them slowly straight above the shoulder. The exercise engages the legs, core, and shoulder muscles and forces the core muscles to contract for balance, building strength and stability.

According to Wright, incorporating mobile exercises from the Vertical Training Program will help those exercising to more quickly improve core strength. In turn, the program leads to better athletic performance and flatter, sexier-looking core muscles.


Vertical Core Training System. Men's Fitness Website. Accessed Feb 25, 2010.

Wagner, Gina DeMillo. Get Your Core Off the Floor. Experience Life Magazine, March 2010. Pp 20-24.

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