If you’ve got your running shoes out and are training for a 5K, 10K or bigger event, having a strong core is the key to your overall success. It’s true that to be a good runner you need to spend time running. You also need to spend some time on exercises that will increase your overall stability and core.
Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:30 marathoner and running coach warns people to not let their ‘engine outpace their chassis. Fitzgerald says that it’s important to remember that your aerobic fitness develops at a faster pace than your structural. What does Fitzgerald suggest? Strength training and core work so that your chassis can keep up with your engine.
You’re Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link
On days that you’re doing cross training activities like strength training, cycling, and swimming, take a few minutes and incorporate these six key core exercises into your routine. Doing all six will only take 10 to 15 minutes and taking the time to do them will pay dividends on race day.
1. Rotational Lunge – This is a very active standing core exercise. You can use a light weight medicine ball or dumbbell. Starting position is standing with your the ball or dumbbell at chest level. Step one leg forward into a lunge while you rotate to the opposite side, or as I like to say, “rotate towards the open leg”. Step back to starting position. Change legs. Repeat for 16 repetitions, alternating.
2. Lateral Lunge With A Twist – You can use a small weighted medicine ball or dumbbell for this exercise. Stand with feet side by side, ball in front of your chest. Keep hips forward while stepping right leg out to a lateral lunge position rotating ball past the knee. Step back to center. Change legs. Alternate legs for 16 repetitions.
3. Plank – The plank has replaced the ab crunch and is considered to be the key component of any core workout. Assume the plank position by putting your elbows and toes on the floor, face down. Try to keep a straight line from your hips to your shoulders being careful not to sag in the middle or lift the butt towards the ceiling. If the basic plank is too boring you can add knee drops (alternate dropping one knee down to the floor and back up) or straddle walks (walk feet out to a straddle position and back in) to challenge the core further while you maintain the plank pose. Hold the plank for 30 seconds. Release and hold again for up to five repetitions.
4. Side Plank – Rotating from the basic plank position to the side puts more focus on the outer core muscles; the obliques. For the side plank, rotate to one side so that you are on one elbow. Again, as with the plank, there are variations that you can do to increase the effectiveness of the side plank move. For example, add dips by dropping the hip down towards the floor and back up or add a oblique crunch with a side leg raise.
5. Superman – I remember in fitness instructor training the rule was if you work your abs you have to roll over and work your lower back in order to maintain muscle balance. The Superman is the perfect lower back exercise to complement the front core work. Lay face down on the floor with arms out wide to the side. Slowly lift both arms and both legs off of the floor. Lower arms and legs back to starting position. Repeat for 16 repetitions.
6. Seated Bicycles – This is a challenging move where you are positioned on your sit-bone. Begin rotating the legs as though you were riding a bicycle, while elbows alternate touching opposite knees. You can put a pillow behind your back or lay all of the way down on the floor if the sit-bone position doesn’t work for you.
Building a strong chassis helps with overall balance and posture, can help alleviate lower back pain, and make your look longer and leaner.
Thanks to the Pinterest community for the pictures. Click on the images to see the sources and many, many more exercise options.
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