A strong core is the secret to boost your performance as a runner.
A strong core will prevent you from lower back and leg pain, a lot of training-related injuries and will reward you with an increased endurance.
Here’s the thing – a strong core does not necessarily mean six-pack abs. You do not have to do 200 crunches to build a strong core. In fact, a lot of your core is built by keeping it engaged while you do other workouts. Core work is accessory work that must compliment all your workouts and can include variations of planks, and once in a while, some crunches. Core work is about executing controlled and slow movements with perfect form. This is especially true with the oblique muscles in the core.
So how does one fire of the smaller muscles in the core and help them gain strength, without doing those dreaded crunches? Read on to find out.
Aim: This one targets the often neglected abductor muscles.
1. Get into a side plank position.
2. Place the top leg on a chair with the bottom leg on the ground.
3. Lift the hips up until your body is in a straight line.
4. Slowly take the lower leg off the floor.
5. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat on the other side.
Medicine Ball Kneeling Chops
Aim: A full body integrated movement that fires up the obliques.
1. Start in a half-kneeling position with knees bent at 90-degree angles, with the right foot in front.
2. Hold the medicine ball a little over your head, towards the right side. Hold it with both hands.
3. Tighten your core, and squeeze your glutes. Now perform a diagonal chopping movement with the weight – draw the medicine ball diagonally across your body and overhead to the right.
4. Then, reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
5. Complete 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.
Aim: To improve core stability
1. Lie down on your back.
2. Lift your knees up, bend them so that they are directly over your hips.
3. Hold a dumbbell sideways between both your hands, and lift it over your chest. Ensure that your elbows are not bent.
4. Slowly lower one leg until it’s just above the floor, then bring it back to the starting (knee bent) position.
5. Repeat with the other leg. Ensure that the foot does not touch the ground.
6. Perform 2 sets, with 20 reps.
Aim: These planks target the trapezius and rhomboid muscles along with the core.
1. Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, and ensure that your hands are below your shoulders and knees below your hips.
2. Lift your knees a little off the ground now, and hold for 20 seconds.
3. Repeat this set 4 times.
Aim: This works on the lower rectus abdominal muscles, plus the hip flexors.
1. Lie on your back with your hands flat on the floor next to you.
2. Keep your legs straight.
3. Lift your feet off the ground.
4. Now kick one leg a little high up, while the other stays suspended.
5. Bring back the leg, and repeat the movement with the other leg.
6. Speed up the kicks – as if you were swimming.
7. Keep pushing your lower back into the floor.