Date Published: March 8, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Kwong-Chung Hung, Ho-Wa Chung, Clare Chung-Wah Yu, Hong-Chung Lai, Feng-Hua Sun, Stephen E Alway.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economy in college athletes. Twenty-one male college athletes were randomly divided into 2 groups: a control group (CON) (n = 10) and a core training group (CT) (n = 11). Both groups maintained their regular training, whereas CT attended 3 extra core training sessions per week for 8 weeks. The participants were assessed before and after the training program using sensory organization test (SOT), sport-specific endurance plank test (SEPT) and 4-stage treadmill incremental running test (TIRT). Compared with the pre-test, significant improvements were observed in post-test SOT (78.8 ± 4.8 vs. 85.3 ± 4.8, p = 0.012) and SEPT (193.5 ± 71.9 s vs. 241.5 ± 98.9 s, p = 0.001) performances only in CT. In the TIRT, the post-test heart rate values were lower than the pre-test values in CT in the first 3 stages. In stage 4, the post-test oxygen consumption (VO2) was lower than that in pre-test in CT (VO2: 52.4 ± 3.5 vs. 50.0 ± 2.9 ml/kg/min, p = 0.019). These results reveal that 8-week core training may improve static balance, core endurance, and running economy in college athletes.
Core muscles have been suggested not only to protect the spine from excessive force, but also to play an important role in body stabilization and force generation during sporting activities . Core training has become a common exercise in rehabilitation as well as in fitness. For example, research has shown that core training can facilitate recovery from injury and relieve chronic lower back pain [2–4].
No difference was observed between the 2 groups (CON vs. CT) in height (174 ± 4.3 vs. 176 ± 7.2 cm; p = 0.386), weight (69.0 ± 6.3 vs. 65.9 ± 4.8 kg; p = 0.125), VO2max (56.4 ± 5.4 vs. 58.3 ± 4.7 mL/kg/min; p = 0.193), or SOT performance (80.3 ± 7.1 vs. 79.1 ± 4.7; p = 0.899) before the intervention. Additionally, no difference was noted between the 2 groups (CON vs. CT) in the training hours per week (11.3 ± 6.2 vs. 9.5 ± 3.6 h; p = 0.427) excluding core training in CT.
The primary finding of this research is that 8 weeks of core training may improve core endurance and running economy. Compared with the pre-test, several indicators including VO2, HR, SOT score, and SEPT score were improved after core training in CT, but no differences in these indicators were observed in CON.
In conclusion, 8 weeks of core training may improve static balance, core endurance and running economy of male college athletes. Field tests could be performed to directly investigate the effect of core training on specific sports performance.