The diagonal core muscle systems make you really strong

Roman Koch 16. March 2022


Our core muscle systems are optimally designed for a diverse range of requirements. From tennis players to high jumpers, our core can functionally adapt, which is also absolutely essential. The diagonal muscles also support your straight core muscles.

This article is presented by Spiraldynamik

The three core systems

The vertical system (blue) comprises the straight abdominal muscles at the front, the long extensor muscle at the back and the square lumbar muscle on the side of the body. The horizontal system (yellow) comprises the transverse abdominal muscles. The diagonal systems are divided into an A- (red) and a V-shaped (green) system, with both systems present in the abdominal and back muscles.

Core muscle systems at a glance 

The A and V systems now come into play. Training these muscle systems mainly involves actively rotating the core, but also holding positions with a weight load on one side. Because there is only weight on one side, you improve the rotational holding action in these muscles. 

Rotations bring you closer to your goal

The more rotational stability in your core, the less stress on your back. In everyday life, you unconsciously rotate your body a lot, which can potentially overload your back. The best example of this is «pushing or pulling» a door. Both movements require a one-sided core rotation and sufficient strength in the diagonal systems. If you lack strength, the lower back ends up directly compensating for this. And this hurts sooner or later. Your thoracic spine, however, is built for mobility and rotational strength and can protect your back. The following three exercises strengthen your diagonal core muscles:


Quadruped to tripod stance

Start: Start on your hands and knees. Your knees are directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Your knees are hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart. Look down and keep your back straight. Now alternately raise one arm forwards or stretch one leg backwards. Once you’ve lifted each limb in the air, you’ve completed one round.

Dosage: 3 sets of 5-8 rounds.

Take note: Your back must not move. Your pelvis must not rotate to the side.

Variation: Instead of adopting the quadruped stance, do the same exercise in the forearm plank or push-up position to increase the leverage.

Rotational bending downwards and stretching upwards

Start: Start standing with your upper body tilted forward. Your back is straight, and your feet are hip-width apart. Your knees are slightly bent. Now bend forwards and rotate sideways. Then lift your upper body back into the stretch and rotate to the other side. The movement comes from your thoracic spine.

Dosage: 3 sets of 10 repetitions per diagonal.

Take note: The movement comes from the thoracic spine. Keep your lower back and pelvis stable. Keep your knees fixed at the same angle.

Variation: Extend your arms in front of your head to increase the leverage.

The diagonal holds the ball

Start: Start by lying on your back. Hold a ball in the air with your arms and legs. Keep your head relaxed on the floor. Now move one leg and the opposite arm in a diagonal line towards the ground. Stop your foot and arm just before they reach the ground and bring them up again. Now switch the diagonal line to the other arm and leg.

Dosage: 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions.

Take note: Always keep your lower back firmly on the ground and tighten your abdominal muscles to prevent a hollow back. 

Variation: When the ball is at the top, squeeze it as hard as you can with your opposite arms and legs.