Here is part II of a Look Into A Runners Muscle Building, focusing on the core, a very important aspect of our running. If you missed Part I – Building Muscle Legs and Arms, read it here. It included some great exercises to help build muscles needed by runners to prevent injury.
Our core is extremely important, and runners need a strong core for proper form. Believe it or not the core can play an important role in injury prevention as well, as it works to stabilize the body and helps with posture. A strong core includes the back side as well, and exercises need to work all abdominal muscles. Runners tend to have weaker cores, especially if they are not performing exercises to strengthen them.
What you’ll need:
- yoga mat / exercise mat
- weights (optional)
Here are some exercises to strengthen the core:
I do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps, or 2 sets of 30 seconds for each exercise, except where indicated. Once again it’s good to mix up ab exercises so your muscles don’t get used to the same exercise. I recommend doing abs 3-4 times a week, and preferably not in a row. Make sure to engage core at all times, by pulling navel to spine. Practice matching your breathe with the moves, and keep your chin off your chest by picking a spot on the ceiling to watch.
- Back extension – On yoga ball, lie face down. Extend legs behind you to touch the floor, with belly on ball. Clasp hands behind head and lift chest toward sky and back down again. Should feel it in lower back. Repeat 10-15 times. *We often forget to strengthen our lower back, which is important to our abs.
- Plank – Hold for 30 seconds, working up to 1 minute. This helps to strengthen those inner deep ab muscles, tightening the core. Lie on stomach. Come onto elbows, with legs extended behind you. Keep back straight and body parallel to floor. Pull navel to spine and hold.
- Bicycle – Lie face up with knees bent at 90 degrees, legs parallel to floor in chair position. Clasp hands behind head and lift head, neck and shoulders. Extend right leg and bring right elbow to left knee. Return to start switching legs. Do 15 reps on each leg for a total of 30 reps or do move for 30 seconds.
- 100 – Lie face up. Extend legs to form 45 degree angle, forming a V. Hands should be extended at sides. Lift head, neck, and shoulders, raising off of ground, but not arching back. Pulse arms up and down, as if pushing palms toward floor. Continue pulsing for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Butterfly – Lie face up bringing legs into chair position, forming 90 degree angle. Reach arms behind you head. Engage core, pulling navel to spine. Bring hands forward, lifting head, neck, and shoulders as you extend legs out, forming 45 degree angle. Pulse 8 times with arms (moving arms up and down, keeping navel to spine and chin off your chest). Return to starting position with arms extended behind you resting shoulders, neck and head on ground and returning legs to chair position. Repeat 8-10 times.
- Pulse Up – Lie face up with hands by your sides. Extend legs into the air, forming a 90 degree angle. Clasp hands behind head and lift head, neck and shoulders. Pulse up, by lifting butt off floor, reaching legs toward the sky. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
- Bear crunch – It’s said to work all core muscles. It’s a great move. Here’s a good video to show this move
- Side Plank – Lie on side, legs stacked on top of each other. Lift hips off ground, and come onto your elbow or for added challenge fully extend one arm pressing hand into floor directly underneath shoulder, reaching opposite arm to sky. Hold for 30 seconds working up to 1 minute and switch sides. Keep navel pulled into spine.
- Star-ups – Lie face up on floor. Extend legs and arms so body forms an X. Raise head, arms, and legs a few inches off the floor, engaging core. From here bring your right leg and left arm together over abdomen, reaching opposite arm to opposite foot. Return to start and repeat on other side. Do 10-12 reps per side. For added challenge, add a weight in your hands.A Runners Muscle Building - The Core #runner #runchat #strength via @wholesomelybry Click To Tweet
- Lever Crunch – Lie face up with knees bent, arms extending behind head. Grab right arm with the left hand at the wrist. Extend right leg out at 45 degree angle. Lift head, neck, and shoulders and crunch, keeping arms close to head, lifting with your core. It looks like your acting as a long lever. Return to start and repeat for 30 seconds, then change sides.
- Hallow Man – Lie face up with legs lifted and extended to form 45 degree angle. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off floor, reaching hands forward, palms up. Hold position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Hands should be on outside of each leg. Engage core!!
- Flutter Kicks – Lie face up legs extended. Place hands under butt, palms on floor. Lift head, neck and shoulders. Lift legs off floor and make a flutter kick motion, as if you’re doing the backstroke. Do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Keep core engaged throughout the sequence.
- Superwoman / man – Lie on stomach, arms and legs extended. Body straight. Keeping head forward and level, lift left arm up and right leg up at same time. Lower down and lift right arm and left leg lower. Repeat for 20 reps.
- Mason Twist– Sit in V position with hands clasped together and legs elevated, knees bent in front of body. Twist back and forth, tapping left side with fists and then right side with fists. Do for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Can add weight for added challenge.
- Loves– Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place 5-15 pound weight in right hand, placing left hand on left hip. Bend toward the right side, reaching right weight toward the ground, and return to start. Repeat 10-15 times or for 30 seconds on each side.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed physical therapist, but a certified personal trainer. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and merely recommendations. Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of fitness routine.
Until Next Time Be Whole and Be Fit
What’s you favorite exercise for strengthening the core?
Lisa @ RunWiki says
Bry, This post is an informational treasure trove. I was just telling my son today, all the running in the world won’t make you faster unless you do some strength. I hope you are enjoying your new role as XC coach. These kids are so fortunate– bet they love you! Excited to see how your season goes.
Thanks Lisa!! I have been enjoying coaching.