TLS Trivia Question #4

TLS Trivia Question #4

Question: The best way to strengthen the “core” is to balance on one leg while lifting a 3-pound weight.

T    F

Answer:  These methods are promoted by fitness media-heads as “functional core” exercises to sound interesting, technical, and smart. While the methods form a novel element in exercising and keep things “fresh” for the average person, it generally fails to produce the adequate nerve impulse frequency, muscle force and metabolic demand for the meaningful core strength, health, and aesthetic changes most people seek.

Perhaps balancing on one leg and lifting a 3-pound dumbbell is useful for long-term couch potatoes, those going through physical rehabilitation, or folks joining the circus, but more effective and efficient methods can be chosen to strengthen the core and the whole body, while also stimulating the nervous, endocrine, and metabolic systems.

And while balancing on one leg (or on a stability ball) may be challenging, it’s a neuro-motor challenge similar to that in learning to play a piano; in other words, a “challenge” doesn’t necessarily result in meaningful cellular changes.

While these balancing exercises may fit into a small part of the overall fitness program, you have to consider how effectively you wish to spend your time; if you pay a personal trainer $100 an hour, do you want half of the session filled with balancing exercises that produce sub-optimal result?

Don’t let exercise novelty and popularity reduce the stimulus efficacy for optimal strength, function, and health. The answer is a resounding F… False.

This entry was posted in Exercise and Physical Activities, weight Loss and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to TLS Trivia Question #4

  1. David says:

    There goes my exercise plan!

    • Johnny says:


      At least you have a plan! 😉

      All joking aside, I believe that you use a lot of kettlebell exercises. I think that the kettlebell is an excellent tool for whole-body conditioning and for joint integrity. I use kettlebells regularly.


  2. Stefan says:

    Any suggestions on what core exercises are useful?

    • Johnny says:

      I try not to compartmentalize training or isolate body parts to the point that the words “core,” “legs,” “upper body,” etc., become exercise terms. I’m not against isolating body parts, but I find exercises that do that are not the best use of my time and effort. (Yet, I still see personal trainers and their clients do abs and other “core” exercises for as large a volume as their regular exercise.)

      Having said that, multi-joint compound exercises like the deadlifts, squats and overhead press are incredibly efficient and effective at targeting the “core.” Except, these exercises are far more expensive and functional than the so-called functional core exercises.

      Hope this helps,

      • The “core” exercise I usually precribe for my trainees is the plank and it’s variations, no more crunches. I recently challenged a trainee to prove how strong his core was by having him do a minute of the plank. He thought his core was fairly strong as he did as many as 100 crunches a day. He lasted all of 15 seconds the first try. he haas since incorperated planks into his routine and is much stronger.
        I agree with you Johnny, the squat and the deadlift can build a pretty strong core.
        I see other trainers putting their clients through workouts that are “core” based and do not build overall strength. Makes me wonder some days.
        Kettlebells are great to use as well, they can really buid “functional” strength.

  3. Daniel says:

    Squatting and dealifting never made my abdominal muscles sore like bycicle crunches, planks, renegade rows, leg lifts do. Does that mean that they don’t target the core much or soreness and burning are not a good predictor of what muscles you’re hitting with this or that exercise?

  4. Nate says:


    Here’s the question: I don’t have access to weights. I have a set of rings, 1 35 lb kettlebell (borrowed) and a 15 lb 6 foot length of chain. I don’t want any more “gear” and can’t spend the time going to a gym. Aside from getting super specific about my program; what do you recommend for someone to build some muscle mass with limited gear (can’t even do deadlifts as not going to get a bar and all that) and who wants to look lean but strong.

    BTW – Been on the intermittent fasting diet as you recommend now for almost a year. Stuck for last 6 months at 150lbs (height is 5 foot 9) – so working to get over that plateau somehow.

    As always, thanks for a great blog for average folk!

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