When I was actively researching exercise biomechanics a goal was to try to document the EMG dosage of the entire trunk and hips during ever single exercise. My thesis was that basic core exercises (curl ups, bird dogs, superman, bridges) were not necessary for many athletes and the general population. I still advocated them to patient (and still do) but really thought you could have a comprehensive conditioning program without doing them -we could get an appropriate core workout by training squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts, sprinting, knee drives, plyometrics etc. In our pilot work we were seeing trunk muscle EMG activity during squats, deadlifts, cleans, jumping, pull ups, pushups etc that was comparable to the activity seen during traditional core exercises. It wasn’t as high as we thought but it was still comparable to standard core exercises (The reason it was not as high as we predicted was later explained in an excellent paper by Stu McGill here).
When I was a biomechanics researcher most of my work focused on cataloging the “dosage” of muscle activity during exercise. I wanted to create a massive document that quantified the muscle activation dosage for the trunk and hips during every exercise. But then I was slowly pushed out the door. And naturally this type of research was not considered valuable at the chiropractic college where I worked. Because, you know back cracking is so much more important for the body then exercise. (where is the sarcasm font?).
Below, I am trying to catalog trunk muscle activity during strength training exercises that are not traditional simple core exercises. It is a bit crude and not complete but if you know of other research please send it along.
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