Crunches are a favourite for runners and cyclists but they might be damaging your spine, so Protima Tiwary gives you these core workouts to try.
Ask the seasoned athletes and coaches and they will all tell you how they don’t remember the last time they did a crunch because, for all you know, they’re not doing any crunches at all! So how is it that they’re rocking those six packs? Before we get there, let’s understand that “core” has a lot to do with strength in the muscles and not necessarily the way it looks. Aesthetics are a result of core-training, and not the first goal. So how is it that they make their core stronger? By focussing on exercises that strengthen the core muscles rather than crunches that are only damaging your spine in the long run.
As a runner, or anyone for that matter, training your core is important because it helps improves your performance in your sport, and even smaller things like posture and gait are improved. Here are some exercises you can do to strengthen your core and forget all about those crunches!
- Place your hands on the floor, with your shoulders and hands in the same line. Your legs will be straight behind on your toes with your feet together.
- Make sure your body is making a straight line, with your core engaged. Make sure your shoulders don’t sink.
- Keeping your core engaged, jump in the same lying position, this time spreading your feet apart.
- Jump back and put your feet together.
- Do this 20 times
- Sit on the floor, with your knees pulled towards your chest and your feet flat on the floor.
- Extend your legs in front, raised upwards to form a V shape with your back straight.
- Hold this for 20 seconds. Come back down and rest for 10 seconds.
- Do this 5 times
- Get into a plank position, with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Make sure your forearms are parallel, legs straight, you’re on your toes with your feet together.
- Now place your right hand on the ground, then the left to push yourself up from the ground.
- Reserve the movement by putting your right hand back on the elbow, followed by the left one.
- Do this 20 times, alternating with the right and left hands.
- Make sure your body stays in a straight line while you’re doing this. Don’t hold your breath at any point.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet touching the floor, and your back at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Now lift up your feet, and feel your core immediately tighten as it helps you stay balanced in that position.
- Twist your torso to the right, and then to the left, while being in this position.
- Do 5 sets of this with 12 reps (6 reps each side) For an extra challenge, hold a weight in your hands and twist.
- Lie on your back and raise your legs at 90 degrees.
- Now spread your arms out on either side of you. This will work as support.
- Move your legs to the right side, bring them back to the centre, then move them towards the left before bringing it back to the starting point in the middle. This is one set of a windshield wiper.
- Do 5 sets with 10 reps each. Make sure your legs are straight and not bent.
- To make this more challenging, bring your arms closer to your body.
These exercises will help you strengthen your core. Please note that your workout is helping in building your core even if you are not actively doing crunches. Lifting heavy weights, sprinting, cycling, swimming all work on the core, and doing these exercises will only help you enhance your performance.