Core Training on the Step 360

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In the fitness industry we hear a lot about ‘core’ training, but what does it really mean?

Also, how do we ensure that we are training in a balanced way that integrates all muscles and joints associated with trunk stability, strength, and endurance? There are many questions associated with core training and I will answer those questions and offer additional core exercise solutions for creating balanced core training programs.

First, let me start by providing my definition of the ‘Core’. The ‘Core’ includes 29 pairs of muscles which run from shoulder blades to pelvis. Essentially, this consists of all of the muscles on the front, back, and sides of the torso, the shoulder girdle, and the pelvic complex (excluding the limbs). These muscles work collectively like a fibrous cylinder to stabilize the torso during any movement or non-movement based exercise to provide rigidity. Having a strong core is essential for fundamental movement stability and proper kinetic chain sequencing of all movement patterns.

Core stability is a primitive strength and neuromuscular pattern we develop as children when we initially learn to press ourselves off of the floor and begin to roll over, crawl, and all of the progressions that lead to walking. A strong core ensures the body is stable in any position or movement without deviation or strain on the body to properly execute any exercise. While building core engagement and basic stability programs for my clients, I like to include the Step360 because it provides a solid platform with adjustable air chambers** for different degrees of instability based on client’s fitness level.

**For more details on how to progress and regress the stability level of a Step360 based on inflation – check out the first 2 minutes of this video.

Utilizing the Step360 for core training exercises creates additional instability and forces the body to reactively engage the core muscles to build total core stability and strength. We want to be sure to continue to increase core stability by incorporating a balance of different types of exercises that will strengthen the entire torso. I have identified 3 Core Training Categories that encompass all muscular groups and movements required of the core.

3 Core Training Exercise Categories

1. Isometric (Non-Movement Based):

  • Neutral Spine: These are exercises that will be held as an isometric, non-movement based core exercise. During these exercises a neutral spine will be maintained. The goal of these exercises is to strengthen the core specifically targeting an area and/or group of core muscles to maintain the neutral position of the spine.
    • Example Types:
      • Plank Variations
      • Side Plank Variations
      • Glute Bridge Variations
      • Quadruped Variations
      • Suspended Variations
    • Non-Neutral Spine: These are exercises that will be held as an isometric non-movement base core exercise. During these exercises a neutral spine will not be maintained. The goal of these exercises is to use the muscle group being focused on to sustain a non-neutral position of the body to stabilize, strengthen, and build muscular endurance of this muscle group.
      • Example Types:
        • Spine Flexion Variations
        • Spine Extension Variations
        • Spine Lateral Flexion

2. Rotational Stability: (Movement Based w/ Non-Movement In Spine):

These exercises are movement-based exercises that are meant to create instability, which then requires the core to activate to maintain a neutral spine position. These exercises allow the limbs to move to create different forces of flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and/or rotation upon the torso. In response the core must activate to either stabilize or strengthen the muscles being challenged.

  • Examples:
    • Plank Variations
    • Side Plank Variations
    • Glute Bridge Variations
    • Quadruped Variations
    • Standing Variations
    • Kneeling Variations
    • Seated Variations

3. Dynamic (Movement Based):

These exercises are movement based exercises that are meant to be dynamic. There will be energy created to make the torso move engaging core muscles based on the specific movement pattern of the exercise (flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation or a combination). The goal of these exercises is to strengthen the targeted muscle groups by creating dynamic core movements.

  • Examples:
    • Spine Flexion
    • Spine Extension
    • Spine Lateral Flexion
    • Spine Rotation
    • Combination

When building a core training program on the Step360 I make sure to create a balanced program incorporating exercises from all 3 of the categories listed above; Isometric, Rotational Stability and Dynamic. I also choose different types of exercises focusing on emphasized muscle groups to provide a comprehensive core training workout.  Next, I decide how to optimize each exercise by utilizing the Step360 with a specific placement during each exercise. I will place different parts of the body on the Step360 to create variable instability for maximum benefits (hands, feet, elbows and/or a seated position). Below is an example of a Step360 Core Workout I created utilizing the core training programming strategies listed above.


3 Rounds: (15min Total)

1 min – Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Tuck-Up

1 min – Hand Plank to Elbow Plank

1 min – Glute Bridge Marching

1 min – Side Hand Plank Oblique Crunch

1 min – Seated Russian Twist

The Step360 Pro Trainer is an ideal accessory for core training. The solid, flat platform supported by the inflatable chambers creates the ideal training surface with a stability level that is easy to manipulate based on the client or the exercise. You can experience a complete core training workout on the Step360 with bodyweight only – like the workout above – or level up by adding resistance bands, dumbbells, or a kettlebell.

Want more Step360 exercises? Head over to the Power Systems YouTube channel and check out the Step360 Exercise Playlist for more inspiration.

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PJ Stahl

About PJ Stahl

Power Systems Master Coach, PJ Stahl, MA, CSCS is creator of PROJECT STEEL and a Reebok Ambassador. His background in competing in collegiate level Division I gymnastics paired with his experience coaching professional athletes, he was naturally led to become a fitness performance coach. PJ utilizes over 20 years of experience and over 25 certifications as a well-rounded elite fitness expert in personal and group training. PJ currently resides in Los Angeles where he owns and trains out of his studio, Lock Box Fitness & Performance Center.