11 Core Training Exercises for Runners | RUNfit 365
Core Training as a runner is extremely important. The good news is, training your core is a pretty simple thing to do. In podast #13, we talk about the benefits of having a strong core, and some tips for developing your core. Below is a summary of our discussion.
What is your “Core”?
Your core mainly consists of:
– Mid and Lower back
What are some of the benefits of strengthening your core?
Good core strength = balanced muscle use = good form = reduce risk of injury
– Reduce injuries
– Improve balance, coordination, and stability
– Become a more efficient runner (flexibility, posture, and increased muscle force with coordination)
How often and when to Incorporate
– You can do 10-15 minutes of core strength every day if desired.
– Incorporate into pre or post running routine; make part of your warm-up or cool-down. Or, just do it when you have time
11 Key Exercises for Training your Core
You can keep exercises challenging by adding repetitions or duration of each exercise. You can also change position or add instability to increase your challenge. If it feels relatively easy to do, change one of these variables so you continue to make progress. Make sure it is constantly “comfortably challenging”.
The exercises below are in order of difficulty, from easiest to hardest.
1. Suck in your belly
This is as easy as it comes. But even so, you may find it more difficult than you think. Pretend you are on the beach, and suck in your gut. Pretend you are trying to touch your belly button to your spine (no, you can’t really do this). Don’t over-do it, just give yourself a little workout this way throughout the day. Although this isn’t exactly engaging your entire core, it’s something you can start with.
2. Knee lifts
Get in to position: Start in a standing position with your feet a few inches apart.
The movement: While maintaining your balance, raise one of your knees upward until it is right out in front, around 90 degrees at the knee, or slightly higher. Use something to balance you if necessary. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and then return your foot to the floor. Repeat on the other leg. Try 8-10 repetitions with each leg to start with, and add a second set when you’re ready.
Get in to position: Lie on your stomach with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Your palms can be down or you can have relaxed, closed hands.
The movement: Engage your core muscles (you will mostly feel it in your abdomen. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and increase it by 15 seconds when you need to up the challenge.
Get in to position: Lie on your stomach with your legs outstretched behind you, toes pointed. Reach your arms out in front of you, like you are actually, well, Superman.
The movement: Slowly raise both your legs and arms up a few inches off the floor, keeping them straight. Keep your head in a neutral position, and keep your back from arching. After holding this position for 5-10 seconds, gently lower your limbs back to the floor. Repeat for a total of 8-10 times to start.
5. Hip raises
Get in to position: Lie on your back in a bent-knee position with your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width.
The movement: While keeping your core engaged, lift your hips up off the floor by pressing your heels into the floor. At the top, your knees should be about in-line with your neck. Avoid arching your back too much – it should feel comfortable. Return to the starting position to complete one repetition. Aim for 8-10 times to start.
Get in to position: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent slightly and on the floor, and your hands behind your neck. Slowly lift your feet off the floor until your lower legs are parallel to the floor (about a 90 degree angle at your hips and knees). Raise your head and neck slightly off the ground using your abdomen.
The movement: Using your core, create a movement that brings your right elbow to your left knee, while straightening your right leg. Next, switch sides by bringing your left elbow to your right knee and straightening your left leg. That completes one repetition. Start by doing this 8-10 times. Avoid pulling on your neck and focus on using your core to complete the movement.
7. Leg Lifts (aka reverse crunch)
Get in to position: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent slightly and on the floor, and your hands out to your sides (or down next to your hips for more stability). Slowly lift your feet off the floor until your lower legs are parallel to the floor (about a 90 degree angle at your hips and knees).
The movement: Using your arms to support you, slowly raise your knees towards your head in a rolling motion, lifting your hips off the floor. Pause for a moment at the top of the movement before returning your lower legs back to parallel. Complete this cycle for 8-10 times to start with.
Get in to position: Start in the “on all 4’s” position, balanced on your knees and outstretched arms supported at the palm
The movement: While using your core to maintain balance, reach your right arm straight out in front of you and your left leg straight out in back. In other words, you will extend your opposite arm and leg simultaneously. Hold in this position for a few seconds before returning back to the starting position. Repeat by reversing, reaching your left arm straight out in front and your right leg straight out in back. One repetition is complete when you get back to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 8-10 times to start. You can add extra sets or instability to challenge yourself once needed.
9. Russian Twists
Get in to position: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and slightly elevated. You can cross your feet for a omore comfortable position. Lean back slightly, keeping your back in a neutral position. Place your arms out in front of you with your hands together, elbows at about 90 degrees.
The movement: Move your hands towards the floor to one side of your body, then back around to the other. The movement is relatively small, and and is driven from your core (not your arms). Rotate to one side and the other for one repetition. Try for 8-10 to get started. Once you are comfortable, you can add weight to this exercise to increase the challenge.
Get in to position: Start in the “on all 4’s” position, with your palms directly beneath your shoulders. While engaging your core, outstretch one leg at a time, putting them together at the your toes. Your spine and neck should be neutral and aligned.
The movement: Keeping your elbows close to your body, start lowering your body down to the floor, always keeping in line (your core should be engaged the whole time). Try to touch your chest to the floor before going back to the top, and use slow controlled movement. Try 8-10 repetitions to start.
11. Army Crawls
Get in to position: Lie on your stomach with your elbows directly under your shoulders, same as the plank described above.
The movement: Begin pulling yourself forward with your arms and core, dragging your feet behind you. Try going from one side of the room to the other and back as a starting point.