Core work. It’s easy to cringe at these little words and avoid them at all costs. First of all, the word “core” is broad. Your core is actually a complex group of muscles. Not just one.
It’s easy to generalize “core work” to just crunches and to work in isolation. But that won’t do you much good. It’s important to think of working your core in functional movements such as deadlifts, planks, squats, front/lateral raise etc because really, your core is made up of many different muscles so it’s important to choose exercises that work different parts of that core system.
You NEED a strong center to be a strong runner, lifter, cyclist, swimmer or any other athletic pursuit of your choice. Your midsection is the powerhouse of your frame. It’s your center. It provides support and stability and you use it for just about every exercise you can think of.
So, I know you may think you just don’t have time to add something else into your routine, but the truth is, you may be able to do it without even knowing it. If you are training for a distance event, the biggest sacrifice people make is strength training. It’s easy to think you have to dedicate a day to legs, a day to arms/shoulders or back, and a day to core. Or something to that affect. But, you can actually combine body parts instead of working in isolation and get more bang for your buck. And you can do it without doing 5,000 crunches.
I love Active.com. It’s a fantastic resource for athletes of ALL fitness levels and sports. Here are a few of the benefits of core training, according to Active…
The great thing about these benefits is that you can get them by doing a variety of exercises!! It’s fun and not the least bit boring. Here are a few of my favorite ways to add some core work into any workout, or after a run when you’re short on time. And don’t forget, you can add a good 15-20 minutes of more focussed core work any time of the week, but this list focusses on how to get some core into your strength work.
When you deadlift, you breath at the bottom of the lift. Form is critical. I’ve seen so many bad deadlifts and trust me, poor form on this exercise will welcome injury. Flat back, soft knees, shoulders back(but not arching lower back OR rounding it out), look straight ahead, weights or bar out in front, bend over slowly, stop at the bottom and slowly rise back up to standing.
Spiderman push up
I love this move. It allows you to work your entire core from the plank position. You’ll start in a straight arm plank, shoulders over hands. Bring your right knee out and up toward your right arm, then repeat with the left, end with a push up. The plank is like a burpee for the core. It gets all the muscles plus shoulders and back with the push up.
So simple yet so effective…and easy to do ANYWHERE. Clearly, Lila likes to do stuff with me…or just make me laugh. That engages the core too, so we’ll call it a win.
Side Jump Planks
You start in a straight arm plank, shoulders over hands. Jump your legs to the right, then to the left. Repeat as many times as desired. This will work your obliques but again, it’s multi purpose. You also get the advantages of a plank thrown in with a little work to get your heart rate up with the hop.
I know. Don’t check out. Burpees really are a total body move, so they should be a regular part of your strength routine. You’ll work legs, core, arms, shoulders, lats, butt, quads….you name it. The burpee has it. Add a push up in your plank or tuck jumps/star jumps when you come up for an extra challenge.
And you don’t need a gym for any of this. 15-20 minutes post run with these exercises will take you far. You need your core. It’ll help strengthen your back, upper body, make you more efficient as a runner or doing any form of cardio, as well as stability for all the muscles that go down the back of your body/legs(hamstrings etc.). Don’t neglect your core!!!!
I’m off to Colorado with the fam today! I’ll blog some while we’re there but you can follow along with me on Instagram to see most of our trip in pictures. Happy hump day ya’ll!!
What’s your favorite core move?
Do you find it hard to maintain a strength routine when training long distance? If so, what do you do to fit it in?