Our playbook consists of around 20-25 core exercises give or take when you factor in variations. When I find something that I believe has value, I add it to the playbook.
Recently, I came across the 1-Arm Farmers March from someone I follow, and the Half Kneeling Low-to-High Cable Chop I saw multiple times over a good time span and never tried it. Once I did, I kept it in the playbook for more variety.
1-Arm Farmers March
This exercise really challenges the frontal plane and the core musculature that stabilizes the body such as the quadratus lumborum and the external obliques. This can also really challenge what’s referred to as the foot/ankle complex if you get out of your shoes.
Half Kneeling Low-to-High Cable Chop
This is a great exercise that trains the core as a force transducer. I don’t remember who I initially learned the transducer concept from but one of my favorite strength coaches Cal Dietz has spoke on the topic considerably. More things are at play here, not just an isolated exercise for the abs.
The core is really a stabilizer of the spine that braces and transfers force either up the kinetic chain (think from the feet that are on the ground up through the core/torso and into the upper body) and perhaps down the kinetic chain. Yet, many people train the core as a force producer by doing exercises such as ab crunches. Also, many people still think you can spot reduce body fat, so by doing core exercises such as crunches and sit-ups you will lose fat around the abdominal region. This is a training fallacy.
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO TRAIN OUTSIDE OF THE SAGITTAL PLANE
Most of the conventional strength programs you see on the internet are very sagittal plane dominant (unless you’re dealing with a knowledgable coach). Take the thoracic spine for instance, you’re not going to get all the benefits out of your body if you stay in this plane all the time. What you’ll get is more strength and muscle mass and cause more of a dysfunction from a lack of training the frontal plane or training rotation. The body is multi-planar and needs to be trained as such, so you need to get into some unilateral work and outside of traditional saggital plane dominant movements to get the most out of your body.
We do our core work as basically filler exercises to manage overall nervous system fatigue, prevent losing thoracic mobility, and to offset muscle imbalances from a lack of frontal and transverse plane movement. If we train with a upper body lower body split, we generally do our core work on the lower body day.