The core is all the rage. I know I’m constantly harping on how important core work is for runners…it will help improve your form, efficiency, reduce injury risks, and yea, a stronger middle looks good too. I’m hardly the only one and in the last few years the ‘core’ and core exercises have really taken off, if they were a celebrity they’d be dominating the Star and US Weekly rag tag rounds.
Another core article caught my eye today over at Competitor.com, ‘Four Key Core Exercises for Runners’. I’m not going to lie, I’m sometimes a little hesitant to read these types of articles (more-so from general fitness magazines) because they tend to rehash the same exercises again and again or some of them are a bit watered down and would be too ‘easy’ for the consistent runner. But I give more weight to the Competitor and Running Times articles than I would say, Runner’s World or InShape for Her.
Yes, the exercises were ones that I’ve done or seen before BUT I actually like them and in fact do the plank on a multi-weekly basis. Again, you can read the article HERE but I’d like to share some tweaks or modifications to the exercises or build on them.
* Plank: okay, for beginners the standard, hold the downward facing plank (balance on forearms and toes) is great; just make sure you’re sucking in your stomach and keeping those muscles tight and engaged.
Make it harder: keep the same position but do leg lifts; start with a set of 10 lifts with each leg and build up to two or three sets.
Back and side planks: planks can be done facing upwards where you’re balancing on your heels and forearms, for this one make sure your butt isn’t sagging to the ground, you still want your body in alignment. For side planks it’s then balancing on your left forearm and outside of your left foot, keeping your body in a line and don’t let your hips sag; repeat with opposite side. I did a full plank workout HERE.
* Russian Twists: I actually really like this one and have recommended it to people before. They have it where you are sitting, balancing on your tail bone and with your feet slighting elevated off the ground. With the weight you then twist left to center to right and back to center.
Make it harder: I like doing the Lunging Russian Twist; standing up and holding a weight (10lbs to start), step out into a lunge with your right foot in front. After you drop into the lunge you’ll hold it there and twist to the right with the weight in your arm. Twist back to center and then step back out of the lunge. Repeat with the left foot in the lunge and then twist to the left. Repeat so you do a total of 20 lunges; start with one set and build up to two or three.
* V-sits: They talk about doing the ‘hollow rock’ in the article but I like this one more. Lie down flat on your back arms straight up behind your head and legs together. Raise both your legs and upper body up until you’re balaning on your tail bone and in a ‘V’ position. You’ll want to make sure your arms stay straight and even with your ears. Lower back down and repeat. This one is tricky and always makes me work because of the whole balance issue; but do the best you can and the learning curve is pretty quick, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll improve. Start with getting 10 to 15 done and build up to two or three sets. Here the emphasis is quality over quantity…10 (or even 5) perfect ones are better than 15 sloppy ones.
* Pilates 100: This one, again isn’t in the article, but is one of the staples of Pilates; start lying back just as the v-sit but this time your arms will be straight down at your sides. Raise your upper body and arms a few inches off the ground and and lift your legs up about a foot or 18 inches off the ground. Keep your legs together but in order to open up your hips, keep your heels together but roll your feet outward into a little ‘v’ shape. Contract your core and now what you’ll do is take your arms and pump them rapidly up and down at your sides. Raise and lower them only a few inches but really keep your core taught and engaged, keep your feet in the ‘v’ shape. Count out 100 little pumps with your arms and then lower back down to the mat. This looks super easy and you might not ‘feel’ like you’re working all the much during it but this move works the deep core muscles and if you do it right you’ll feel sore later.
Try to do core work two to three times a week; honestly it can be a super quick routine, I mean 10-15 minutes after you run or while you’re watching TV…we’ve all got 10 extra minutes, right?!
Well, I’ve given more face time to that spotlight hogging core, but it’s one fitness crazed celeb who I think is worth getting press…it’s not just a quickie Kim K hook-up or wedding.
1) What are some of your top core exercises?
2) Do you do core work regularly? If so, what are some of the benefits you’ve seen?
3) There are always fitness fads or particular topics that everyone seems to be talking about a lot; core work is one that I think merits it. What are some other topics or tips that you’ve seen a lot of lately and do you like/do/use/back them?
I’ve seen a lot of people doing these egg puff things, whipping them up like meringue toppings, and seasoning them differently so they are like faux-cookies or sweets. I haven’t tried them though…I think I’d still want a cookie.