Get power by stabilizing your core
Pop quiz: When was the last time Roger Federer was injured? Yeah, we couldn't remember either. One reason: "His training program is probably centered on core stability, which isn't only necessary for generating an explosive swing, but is also essential for preventing back and knee injuries," said Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.
So Federer didn't take Wimbledon this year. Still, there's a thing or two you could learn from a core-stability building program like his. Even better, you only have to carve out 10 minutes at a time to reap the performance and injury-preventing benefits, Robertson said.
But first, it helps to better understand what core stability is all about. "With core stability, the goal is to reduce motion through the abs and lower back," Robertson said. "Whenever you need to generate power, whether you're swinging a golf club, tennis racket, or softball bat, you want to brace your core as if someone's punching you. This allows you to transfer energy as efficiently as possible from the lower body to the upper body. A mobile core, however, is like an energy leak. It can also cause you to over-torque joints like your back or knees."
Robertson suggests these exercises to target the abs, pelvis and lumbar spine:
Kettlebell windmill. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, weight in your right hand. Raise it above you're your right shoulder. Rotate your chest to the right and look up at the kettlebell as you try to touch your left fingertips to your left toes. Return to start, keeping your right arm extended.
Half-kneeling cable chop. Attach a bar to a cable machine. With the right side of your body facing the machine, take a knee on the floor. Place the sole of your right foot on the floor and place some padding underneath your left knee. Take an overhand grasp on the bar with your right hand at the top and left hand toward the bottom. Using your core, bring the bar down in a diagonal motion with the bottom of the bar heading past your left hip toward the floor. Then, push it straight in front of you with your right hand. Pull it back in toward you and return to starting position.
Prone jackknives on a stability ball. Start in a push-up position with the tops of your feet and shins resting on the top of a stability ball. Slowly roll your knees toward your chest and then roll back to starting position.