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Review of "Combat Core"
Book by Jim Smith, CSCS

First off, let me just start by saying, contrary to what the title might suggest, this book is NOT just for the combat athlete - EVERY type of athlete can benefit from the training found in this manual!

That being said, if you ARE involved in combat sports such as boxing, (MMA) Mixed Martial Arts, Karate, Judo, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Filipino Stick Fighting…you name it…you know how absolutely CRITICAL your core is to successfully beating the living crap out of the other guy (to put it one way).

I mean, let's face it…NOBODY joins a boxing club so they can learn how to score points from the judges most effectively.

Combat Core by Jim Smith Review

The goal is to WIN and leave the other guy lying on the ground.

And to win, you have to be able to deal a blow and TAKE a blow…often at the same time!

But if your core is weak (or if you just do crunches and leg raises to work it), you simply will NOT be able to strike with maximum effectiveness AND you won't be able to take a punch or kick to the midsection nearly as well.

And if even you're NOT a combat athlete, you NEED excellent core strength to hit a basebell over the fence, dynamically change direction when you've got guys crashing into you, and even sprint your fastest!

THAT is where Jim Smith's book "Combat Core" comes in.

"Smitty" is one of the founding members of the Diesel Crew - a coaching organization dedicated to improving athletic performance through highly-targeted training methods. You'll notice I didn't say "high-tech" training methods, though. After all, sandbags, tractor tires and sledgehammers don't exactly fall into THAT category.

So here's the deal with "Combat Core"…you're going to get a TON of exercises. You're going to get well-grounded background information on the different levels and types of core training and strengthening. You're going to get complete programs that teach how to make best use of the exercises and information.

What you WON'T get are exercises that you have you standing on a Bosu ball on one leg catching bean bags or doing the Karate Kid crane thing (little blast from the past there - if you're under 30, Google it).

And I'll tell you right now, I really like this book.

It gets right to the point and is PACKED with useful training info. It's an excellent manual both for the athlete AND the coach - doesn't matter which you are, you'll get a lot out of this.

This book is not about flash and glamour and getting six-pack abs (though this type of core training will definitely give you that). This is about FUNCTION and PERFORMANCE in the core and I'm a very BIG fan of that.

Even though the book generally comes across as being all about COMBAT sports - preparing your body for it and making you BETTER at it - all types of athletes will benefit from the

Combat Core by Jim Smith Review
Sorry, couldn't resist including this one!

Even if you're NOT a combat athlete, the core strength you will develop from this approach will DEFINITELY help you on the field. I can't think of any athlete that wouldn't benefit from a stronger, more explosive core. Cripes, even bowling if you can bring yourself to think of that as athletic.

As I mentioned above, Smitty includes excellent background info on core training and the different levels and styles of it. You'll learn how to properly brace your abs (useful in absorbing impacts), the anatomy of the core and how it all works, as well as strategies on how to develop core power from the ground up, even for total beginners.

He's also included complete programs for maximizing the progressions from more basic programs and exercises to the really advanced stuff.

I have to say, the EXERCISES are where this book really shines. This is VERY effective stuff...if you have any training experience, you can tell immediately just by looking at it. As I was reading through, I was itching to just go and try all the exercises out!

A lot of it can be done by beginners but there is a LOT of advanced stuff. The programs and progressions will help you get from beginner to advanced.

One of the things that jumped out at me in the book was the simple genius behind some of these drills.

For example, as a drill to teach you how to keep your abs rigid while breathing, moving and striking (so you can learn how to simultaneously DELIVER a blow while effectively TAKING a blow), Smitty will have you carrying a sandbag in the guard position while doing strikes and catching objects.

Heck, there's even a VERY thorough section on the posterior chain (the muscles down the back of the body) as relating to core strength and functional power in combat sports.

Good stuff.


There are some downsides to this book but I have to say, most of these are actually NECESSARY downsides…including them provides maximum usability and effectiveness of the overall package (you'll see what I mean).

Basically, a number of the exercises require some form of specialized equipment. This includes sandbags, heavy bags, decline bench, roman chair, thick ropes, tractor tires and sledgehammers. Without this specialized equipment, you'd be missing out on a LOT of great training.

Even if you don't have all this equipment (or even if you just have some), you'll still get a lot out of this book. Plus, you'll never look at farm equipment the same way again.

A number of the exercises also require a partner or a trainer - for combat sports specifically, which are very reactive, this is actually quite important (also important for other sports, such as football, for example). You need to have that outside influence that a partner or trainer brings. In shadow boxing, your shadow very rarely hits back. In REAL combat, the other guy is generally going to try and take you out just as much as you're trying to take HIM out.

Performing exercise variations that take this into account is a theme you'll find throughout "Combat Core." It's one of the specificity principles that makes this such a valuable manual for the combat athlete.

For non-combat athletes such as sprinters, it's all about maximum power generation. The core is central to this and the rotational exercises you'll find in the book will really help you add speed.


Bottom line: if you're involved in ANY combat sports, get this book.

It's totally worth it just from the sheer number of exercises and variations you'll find in it - all well-explained and demonstrated in pictures. The addition of background information and programs helps really make this a complete core-training approach for combat athletes.

If you're involved in ANY sports, it's a valuable read, just from the performance-enhancing aspects of this type of intense core training.

And if you just like to try unique, gut-wrenching exercises that will really shred your abs, you'll love this stuff, too.

If you're happy with your crunches and leg raises, DO NOT get this book. It'll kill you.

Combat Core - Advanced Training Secrets for Explosive Strength and Power Learn more about Jim's book "Combat Core - Advanced Training Secrets for Explosive Strength and Power"


About The Author

Jim Smith is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and an expert trainer who writes for Men's Fitness and the Elite Q/A Staff. Jim has been involved in strength training as a performance enhancement specialist for over 8 years and has worked with athletes from various sports who compete at various levels. He has published articles about his unique training style and innovative methods for many prominent strength and fitness related sites. He is also the author of three renowned strength manuals.



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