Runner or not, when the warmer weather arrives we all start thinking of trying to get tank top arms or rock hard abs. Abs may be made in the kitchen, but you still need to work on your core strength in the gym.
So, what do you consider your core?
Most obvious answer may be abdominal muscles, which are actually a very small part of the core. Our core consists of a variety of muscles which stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso including our glutes, hamstrings, obliques, and hips.
In addition to rocking your summer attire, building a stronger core will also help you be a better runner. Benefits of adding core into your workout routine include:
- Stabilizing muscles we use for posture. Have you ever had the opportunity to see your form at the end of a race; maybe a particularly difficult finish? Our postural muscles begin to fatigue just as much as our legs do. Maximizing power in your glutes and obliques helps create a better running posture and use less excess energy.
- Stave off injury. Core exercises help reduce injury by helping to withstand the repetitive nature of running.
- Create a solid foundation. Core exercises can help improve your balance which is helpful in missteps especially on uneven terrain.
- And of course, you will look good in your racing attire.
Core for Runners V.1
Plank: Assume a basic push-up position. Rest weight on elbows and forearms flat on the floor. Raise hips and maintain a straight line from shoulders to feet. Position can be modified on knees. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
Target: deep core and strengthen your lower back.
Running Benefit: Helps prepare core for hills and fatigue late in the race.
Reverse Plank: Sit on floor with legs straight out in front of you and arms at your sides. Lift your hips off the ground and hold for up to 60 seconds.
Target: work on glutes and hamstrings in this plank variation.
Running Benefit: Helps generate explosive power in the stride and protect against injury.
Donkey Kicks: Start on your hands and knees – hands should be under shoulders and knees under hips. Flex your feet. Keep the knee bent to 90 degrees and drive one heel up towards ceiling. Squeeze glutes, lower leg and repeat. Do 15-20 repetitions per leg.
Target: hips, lower back and glutes
Running Benefit: Helps maintain a fluid running stride.
Fire Hydrants: Start on your hands and knees – hands should be under shoulders and knees under hips. Raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Raise, lower and repeat. Do 15-20 repetitions per leg.
Running Benefit: Injury prevention in hip and knee.
Windshield Wipers: Lie on your back on the floor and raise your legs 90 degrees. Spread your arms straight out to your sides for support. Rotate legs to one side, stopping short of touching the floor. Rotate to other side. Do 15 total repetitions.
Target: obliques, hips.
Running Benefit: Strengthen oblique muscles will help minimize side-to-side motion while running. Less energy expenditure = more efficient runner.
Single Leg Lowering w/Crunch: Lie face up on a mat with both legs straight up in the air. Lower your left leg to ground and return to upright position. Do a crunch up towards legs then return to starting position. Lower right leg, return to upright and crunch. Repeat. Do 15 repetitions per leg.
Target: abs, hips, quads.
Running Benefit: Overall core challenge.
Try these exercises after your next run. You don’t need a rock-solid six pack to be a good runner, but a strong core will definitely help (and you’ll feel good too!).