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Agile Athlete: Core Exercises for Lacrosse

Core strength is one of the single most important physical attributes for lacrosse players. We don’t say this lightly, Lacrosse Players have some of the most physical demands of any athlete. But when it comes to core strength, it’s one of the physical attributes that connects all the rest and lets players play stronger, more powerfully, and more confident in any situation. 

And while Lacrosse Players know the value core strength has on the field and that they should be improving it off-field, most players still default to basic (and ineffective) ab exercises like crunches, sit-ups, or Russian twists. 

If you’re going to put in the work, you better make it count. 

That’s why we wanted to create a resource that Lacrosse Players can use to make their core work count. 


Before we dive into the best core exercises for lacrosse players, it’s valuable to understand the different types of exercises. 

While most players typically just default to their favorite “ab exercises” at the end of a workout, these types of exercises typically only train a portion of the core – and thus, while players think they’re putting in a good amount of core work, they’re often left with incomplete strength. 

Research defines two main functions for core strength: to provide a strong basis for our limbs to move from, and to provide a stiff/braced midsection to transfer force between the upper and lower body (1). 

This should give players a completely different outlook on core strength altogether. 

Our core muscles aren’t actually meant for movement, they’re meant to brace against movement.  

This means that the lacrosse player with a stronger core has a greater capacity to brace themselves and utilized those braced positions to generate power. 

Two insanely valuable attributes on the field. 

Let’s break this down into three (anti-) movement types.

  1. Anti-Extension – If you’re standing still and get pushed in the chest, your anti-extension muscles are flexing. This means that being able to brace your anti-extension muscles and the strength of the brace will often define who’s left standing at the end of a collision. 

While the rectus abdominis or classic “abs” typically take the most of the credit for this (and rightfully so), there’s also the contribution from the external obliques which should be a full core brace.

  1. Anti-Flexion – In this case, we’re actually talking about anti-side flexion. Consider yourself running down the field and taking a jab while at full speed. Do you have the strength to brace your upper body or does it knock you off balance and change your stride? 

This is your anti-flexion muscles at work. For lacrosse players, this is insanely valuable for being able to play fast and strong. 

  1. Anti-Rotation – The crown jewel of core strength. Developing stronger anti-rotation muscles will not only allow you to shoot harder but also support the anti-flexion and extension movements because contact or force is so rarely expressed to both sides of the body equally. 

Understanding this should allow you to think about core strengths in a more comprehensive manner. Training all three of these movement types allows lacrosse players to play stronger, shoot harder, and overall improve their performance. 

Now let’s get to why you’re really here – the core exercises you can be using in your own training. 


It’s time to ditch the crunches, sit-ups, and Russian twists. 

These are the exercises that we put in all of our workouts for lacrosse players because they have been shown to comprehensively improve core strength the most and/or have a high level of transfer to the field.

Let’s dive in. 


Movement Type: Anti-Rotation

We’re starting by looking at anti-rotation core exercises, and this one might be the literal GOAT. We can confidently say that this exercise, or some sort of variation, should be in every lacrosse player’s workout program. 

This can be done with either a cable machine or band and doesn’t need much resistance. You really want to focus on creating tension that is pulling you into rotating your torso and then brace to eliminate any rotation. 

To make this challenging, we’ll often add variations like the Tall Kneeling Pallof Press or the Split Stance Pallof Press, our workout programs will often have as many as 7-8 Pallof variations within them. 


Movement Type: Anti-Rotation

Much like the Pallof Press, this exercise is insanely valuable for lacrosse players to not only develop the anti-rotational muscles – but also return symmetry to their upper bodies. 

With so many rotation-based movements on one favored side (passing, shooting, etc.) we’ll often see lacrosse players come into the gym with imbalanced postural positions and strength from their left and right sides. This exercise helps correct that while also being a phenomenal core strength-building exercise. 

This exercise is so valuable because it demands that lacrosse players create rotation in their upper back while eliminating any rotation in their core and low back. 


Movement Type: Anti-Flexion

Carries are underrated. 

Grip, core strength, full-body strength, postural control – there’s so much packed into just carrying some weight around. 

While the Suitcase Carry and Farmers Walk are two of our favorites, if we had to narrow it down to the best variation for lacrosse players – it’d be the suitcase carry. 

This exercise not only challenges your grip but more importantly, challenges your ability to brace your core against a side bend demand. In addition, it also challenges your ability to find this braced position while walking which is directly applicable to the field where lacrosse players need to brace against contact when running. 

This doesn’t have to be heavy, but it does need to be done with perfect posture. Get tall, shoulders back, abs and core braced, no side bend. 


Movement Type: Rotation

Alright, we explored the importance of training with anti-rotation exercises – but we wanted to add this one in because of its value for lacrosse players. 

Our goal of developing core strength is best trained isometrically. Research has shown this repeatedly that challenging braced trunk position is far more valuable than movement-based exercises (2). 

Instead, we use this exercise, and other rotational-based exercises, to put together, refine, and strengthen the kinetic chains associated with rotation. 

In this exercise, we’re challenging that rotational chain that’s associated with shooting, but we want to place an emphasis on creating that squeeze in our abs while we throw the ball. Essentially, we’re focusing on accessing and utilizing that strength in our core more effectively in rotation – something that a lot of lacrosse players do subpar when it comes to shooting. 

If you’re looking to shoot harder, this exercise is for you. 


Movement Type: Anti-Extension & Anti-Flexion

It wouldn’t be a “best core exercise” list without mentioning the OG of core exercises. 

The plank is so popular in mainstream workouts, that it’s almost written off as being too basic – but the truth is, it’s an insanely valuable exercise for training those anti-extension muscles and connecting the upper and lower body. 

It’s important to recognize that longer doesn’t necessarily mean better. A lot of lacrosse players hit 1 minute (and if you can’t, you should be doing this daily until 1 minute is easy) and then they consider planks too easy. 

Instead of adding more time, we want players to switch to what’s often called an “RKC Plank” – this involves creating an intense maximal flexion in the abs that feels like you’re pulling your ribs or elbows down towards your hips. It’s tough to capture this on video, but next time you’re doing a plank, try to create the squeeze for 5 seconds and then release – you’ll be fired up in no time. 


Movement Type: Anti-Extension

This takes planks to a whole new level. 

This exercise still challenges you to find that ultra-braced core position like the plank, but sliding out creates a far greater challenge to maintain that position and then further loads the abs as you “drag” your body back to the neutral position. 

Every lacrosse player we give this exercise to immediately has a love-hate relationship with it. They love being able to feel that intentional core activation/squeeze but hate how challenging it is. 

This is super similar to the Ab Wheel which is also a super valuable core exercise for lacrosse players.


Movement Type: Anti-Extension

This is an exercise that all lacrosse players should have in their training. 

It’s the perfect exercise to practice that locked and braced core position. Your goal should be pressing your low back into the floor as intensively as possible. As you reach out, it’s natural to want to flare open your ribs and lose that braced position. 

But this isn’t just for youth athletes. While we put the Swissball Deadbug as the demonstration here, we also use a bodyweight version in our Workout Program for Youth Lacrosse Players and also use a Banded Deadbug and a Weighted Deadbug (this one’s in nearly all of our workout programs).


Movement Type: Anti-Extension & Anti-Rotation

Another popular bodyweight core exercise is the bird dog. It’s the perfect opportunity to challenge full-body stability and create strong lines/kinetic chains through the core. 

The issue is, for elite lacrosse players or those who have been training for a while – it quickly becomes too easy. 

While some coaches will add longer holds (turning it almost into a plank with 30s holds per side), we like to turn it activated by having players lift their knees off the ground. 

Here players really have to control their torso from rotating or extending open and it really challenges an intense braced position. 


Movement Type: Anti-Extension & Anti-Rotation

This might be the most underrated exercise for athletes. 

Shoulder stability, core demand, kinetic chain control, and coordination – bear crawls have it all. 

In our case, this is truly a valuable core exercise for lacrosse players as it challenges you to stay ultra-braced through the torso while also creating chains from the upper to the lower body. 

Keep your knees low to the ground, go as slow as possible, and aim for 20 yards of perfect control. We like to cue our lacrosse players to move as if they have a bowl of soup on their backs. 

Slow and controlled!


Movement Type: Anti-Extension & Anti-Rotation

This is a sleeper pick. 

A lot of athletes that have been around a quality Strength & Conditioning program have seen a bird dog or bear crawl, but this variation puts a literal twist on these exercises where players need to drag a weight from one side to the other without rotating

This has the same full-body strength and core demand as the previous exercise but really challenges your ability to resist rotation or default into easier and less braced positions. 


To recap, and to let you screenshot this to come back to later – the best core exercises for Lacrosse Players include:

  • Pallof Press
  • Half Kneeling Chop
  • Suitcase Carry
  • Ball Throws
  • Plank & Side Plank
  • Plank Sliders
  • Deadbug
  • Activated Bird Dog 
  • Bear Crawl 
  • Bear Crawl Drag Through 

While lacrosse players can do these exercises in a core circuit, we like to mix core exercises within our workouts to allow players to focus on creating intense and intentional activation versus just an ab burn. 

Regardless of how you use these exercises, you can never have a core that’s too strong – improving your core strength will only lead to good things on the field for lacrosse players!