Wave of the Fitness Future: 3-D Core Training

Foundation Core Transformer: A

There’s a new workout movement that’s gaining popularity within the fitness community based on elite performance training. Historically speaking, most peak performance fitness trends began in the elite and pro athlete training rooms, then grew to be embraced by mainstream fitness professionals, personal trainers and group fitness instructors. Some examples include bodybuilding, pioneered by legends Joe Gold and Arnold Schwarzenegger, core performance training, using stability and heavy medicine balls, and now the latest evolution that is gaining popularity: three-dimensional fitness training.

What Is 3-D Fitness Training?

Why is this the next evolution of peak-performance training? And how does it benefit you? Let me explain.

The “abs crunch,” while it may have a handful of applications, is not functional fitness training. In real life, and especially in elite and professional sports, you must quickly use your whole trunk, such as in catching a pass, blocking or tackling, all while standing upright. In other words, moving in the three dimensions of space (and not just crunching up) requires progressive strength or resistance from your body. It also delivers better results.

Three-dimensional fitness training gives you the biggest bang for your buck. In order to work the core in three dimensions you have to do progressive, constant, multi-planar resistance with a cardio element. Because the movements require so many systems to work in a singular coordinated effort, the exercise becomes high-intensity very quickly. And results are about intensity, not duration.

Today, core training is fundamental in the fitness industry. It seems like everything “abs” these days is being labeled “core,” which is creating a great deal of confusion. The difference between functional core performance and the standard abdominal crunch can be boiled down to their respective results. One will train a specific portion of abdominal muscle, and the other will transform how your body looks, feels and performs.

Getting to the Core of the Issue

All movement begins from your core. The purpose of functional core training is to first strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your entire trunk to create a strong, stable core or pillar. Your core begins from the base of your skull and goes down through and includes your hips. Your core is an amazing anatomical composition of about 29 muscles that wrap around your midsection like a girdle or back brace. Some of these important muscles are the transverse abdominis, erector spinae, obliques, pelvic floor (PC), illiopsoas and multifidus, to name a few. The goal of functional core training is to establish a proper sequence of diagonal cross-firing muscle patterns known as anterior, posterior, transverse and lateral slings. This kind of movement will create proper upright posture and spinal alignment, a strong back, balance, gait, and finally, movement by your legs and arms. In other words, your core is essential for every movement in life.

A balanced, strong body requires a well-aligned, balanced, strong core. From a purely cosmetic viewpoint, when properly trained, the core acts like a girdle, holding and pulling in your entire abdominal region tight and flat—especially that lower belly “pooch” that many consider a problem area.

How to Go 3-D

Core moves can be done in a variety of positions. The best core moves are performed in a standing position because in life we primarily move standing upright—not horizontally. In fact, when we’re horizontal we are resting or sleeping, so not much reason functionally to train that way, right? Fitness products such as a stability ball or BOSU are great tools that create instability within your trunk, thus forcing your body to instinctively use all your stabilizing core muscles.

Most body builders and fitness buffs do an endless amount of crunches or sit-ups to achieve flat, sculpted six-packs abs. However, because sit-ups only train the two, superficial ab muscles, the biomechanics are all wrong. Crunches and sit-ups do not train the important core muscles that truly act as an abdominal girdle by pulling your midsection in tight and flat. Thousands of repetitive, boring crunches might help you get the superficially sculpted abs, but at the cost of your back muscles.

The bottom line: Only true, functional constant resistance 3-dimensional core-performance training is guaranteed to get you those flat, sculpted abs of your dreams, along with developing a strong, healthy back and optimally performing core—while also blasting that stubborn, top layer of belly fat in the shortest time possible. And the entire body benefits, too. So stop doing those crunches and start working that whole body.

The Core Transformer Workout Kit is available for purchase on Amazon and at coretransformer.tv

Moves

True functional core movement—both in real life and when you are exercising—is performed as trunk (meaning your core) extension movement; not flexion, also known as an “abs crunch.” Before you begin any exercise, you must initiate the Athletic Core Set-Up: Simultaneously pull and keep your shoulders down, pull your navel into your spine and keep a constant, soft Kegel or “Pelvic Floor Pull-up .” Then, keep good spinal alignment by keeping your ears stacked directly over your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.

Foundation Core Transformer: Throw & Catch Move

This is a powerful, transformative, compound core movement. I recommend 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps working to your fatigue (not exhaustion) level. If you cannot maintain proper form and great spinal alignment, then decrease the reps and sets until you are able to master each rep perfectly as if it is your first and only movement.


  • Strap the CORE TRANSFORMER onto feet around the arches (not balls of your feet), with both feet keeping equal tube distance on each side. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width apart or an “athletic ready stance.”

  • Cross the tube twice, then loop hands underneath hooking handle between thumb and first finger. [A]

  • Inhale, bending hips and knees into a 90-degree squat while keeping your shoulders down, breastbone high, hands and elbows slightly above waist, and weight centered evenly over feet.

  • Exhale to standing, raising hands no higher than shoulder height. Keep knees soft and continue to keep the Athletic Core Set-Up, which will fire your entire body—beginning first and always with your core.

  • Throw & Catch Plyos: Add jumps with up-tempo beat or half time. Repeat twice with 12 reps. [B]

Try: Think about the face of a clock and try throwing at maybe 2 and 10 o’clock, 1 and 11 o’clock, etc. with and without jumps.

Side Squat with Upper Body Rotation


  • Inhale while bending at hips and knees into a 90-degree squat keeping shoulders down, breastbone high, hands and elbows slightly above waist, and weight centered evenly over feet.

  • Exhale and step out to the right into a squat, raising hands to no higher than shoulder height. Keep your center of gravity and weight at your belly button. Do not shift your weight over onto your right leg. Keep knees soft and continue maintaining the Athletic Core Set-Up, which will fire your entire body—especially your core.

  • While side squatting, twist your upper body to the outside-from-center leg and simultaneously reach your hands to the front and back of you. [A]

  • Step center into a squat then alternate sides stepping left. [B]

  • Side Squat w/Upper Body Rotation Plyos: Add jumps with up-tempo or half time. Repeat twice with 12 reps

  • Repeat 2-3 times for 12 reps maintaining great form and perfect posture. Do Active Rest between sets by walking for 30 seconds.

Core Transformer Upper Body Swing

This is a great and fun peak core performance exercise that will trim your waistline, strengthen your back, and improve your explosive, upward force swing muscles.


  • Inhale while bending hips and knees into a 90-degree squat keeping shoulders down, breastbone high, hands and elbows slightly above waist, and weight centered evenly over feet.

  • Exhale to standing, twisting torso in golf swing movement, raising hands overhead to right side while pushing off on left foot, twisting entire torso. [A]

  • Repeat to left side, center with a jump, then right again, while always keeping the Athletic Set-Up. [B]

  • Upper Body Swing Plyo’s: Add jump with up-tempo beat or half time. Repeat twice with 12 reps.

  • Repeat sets 2x12 reps each side. Do Active Rest between sets by walking for 30 seconds.

Crouching Tiger: Horizontal Squats

This is a great full body peak performance move that explosively trains your entire body beginning first and always from your core. Push-up Plank variations are one of the best ways to train your entire trunk or core. The X cross-resistance of the tubing intensifies this move exponentially, firing all your muscles maximally.


  • Begin face down on your hands and knees. Curl your toes under to be on the balls of your feet. Place your shoulders directly over your hands. [A]

  • Inhale, sit back or crouch onto your haunches. [B]

  • Exhale, driving your body forward until you are perfectly positioned into a full body plank in a straight line with your ears horizontally stacked over your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. Pull and keep your shoulders down, stay lifted through your chest, and pull your navel into your spine keeping a constant, soft Kegel. Hold position for a 2-3 count. [C]

  • Repeat 2 sets with 10 to 12 reps.

Boat Pose: Paripurna Navasana (Par-ee-POOR-nah nah-VAHS-anna)

This move zeroes in on your lowest, deepest core muscles, which act like a natural abdominal corset, plus really strengthening your lower back bilaterally.


  • Begin lying face up with your arms extended overhead. Inhale, then exhale into a V-Sit or boat pose keeping knees bent in table top. Try to lengthen your spine, to create space through the low back and abdomen. Lean slightly back without collapsing into your chest or abdomen, and find the back edge of the sit-bones. Remember to continually keep the Athletic Core preset. [A]

  • Continue to breathe rhythmically as you discover your balance. Hold pose for 20 to 30 seconds or until you fatigue.

  • Reach backwards alternating your arms to work your rear back or core muscles and front obliques—both internal and external for 8 to 12 reps each side. Exhale during each arm back reach. [B]

  • Repeat the set two times.

Modification: Place feet on floor

Originally published in May 2011

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