The Vertical Core Workout

Standing three-dimensional training is an oft-overlooked performance-enhancer.

The best way to work your core is a hotly-debated topic. Some experts argue that crunches and sit-ups are passé—and possibly harmful. Others say that you’re planking all wrong. And now, Alex Zimmerman, director of Equinox’s Tier X program, adds that if you’re doing all your core work on the ground—whether it’s planks, crunches, or some innovative move—you’re missing out. He’s not suggesting you eschew more traditional ab-builders but simply to add in a new component: Vertical Core Training (VCT). Coined by Todd Wright, strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, it's used to help athletes maximize their potential.

“The basic premise is that you move the body three-dimensionally from an upright position and this allows for increased performance, function, and can reduce the likelihood of injury,” Zimmerman explains. And yes, with these moves you’re challenging your midsection but not for the sake of a six-pack: “This type of work is not aesthetically driven,” he emphasizes. (Which is why you shouldn’t stop planking.)

By training in multiple planes of motion, you give the body what it craves: vector variability, which Zimmerman says creates robust bone structure and fascial systems and coordinates nervous system development and motor control (i.e. the ability to control a dumbbell’s descent after an overhead press).

Perform the following exercises as a dynamic warm-up two to three times per week. Complete two sets of 10 reps of each move, resting minimally. Begin with a very light load: men should start with eight-pound dumbbells and women should begin with five. When the loads get heavier as you master the movements, add in more rest as needed.

Exercises demonstrated by Maria Callanta, Tier X coach at Equinox 92nd Street