Chelsea Core: An Exercise Series to Build Pillar Strength

Here's an exercise routine for your core that was inspired by watching Chelsea F.C. practice at Qwest Field in Seattle the evening before their friendly against the Seattle Sounders in 2009. I call it Chelsea Core. During the Chelsea practice, several of the soccer players were led through a similar routine by a Chelsea fitness coach. I do the routine in about 12 minutes.

The key characteristic of this routine, as I see it, are the brackets on either side of it that help build pillar strength: The routine opens with a front plank, side planks, and bird dog. The routine closes by repeating those three exercises in reverse order: bird dog, side planks, and finally front plank again.

Although I frequently change the exercises in the middle of the routine, I always begin and end the routine with the same series. And regardless of the exercises that you place in the middle, you must repeat them: The second half of the routine repeats the exercises of the first half in reverse order. Here's an example:

  1. Plank. On forearms, minimum 1-minute hold.
  2. Side Plank. On elbows and forearms. Do both sides. Minimum half-minute hold each side.
  3. Opposite extremity extension, or bird dog, for at least a minute.
  4. Skier abs (oblique crunches).
  5. Modified curl ups (abdominal crunches), preferably on a large exercise ball -- 2 sets.
  6. Repeat skier abs.
  7. Repeat bird dog.
  8. Repeat side planks.
  9. Finish by repeating front plank.

When you get to the final plank -- the exercise you started with -- can you still hold it with proper form for at least a minute?


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First Published: May 5, 2010. Last Updated: May 5, 2010.