You asked, we listened. This April, as we move into spring… join us for a 30 day Ab Challenge!! Why? Because a strong core is an integral piece of being an athlete. A strong core will make you a better, stronger runner, help prevent injuries and keep your back in good condition.
Please note, to get full access to this challenge, you must be a part of our online training group or working on one of our training plans!
There are many reasons as to why having a strong core is beneficial to runners and many other cross training sports.
Your core muscles connect your trunk, pelvis and spine to each other and to the rest of your body, including your hips, legs and shoulder blades. This is why along with doing sit-ups and crunches, for a complete core-training workout we are also working on our planks, leg raises and superman’s.
A stronger core can improve a runner’s speed and prevent injuries. Core stability is essential for runners because it prevents pain, reduces wear and tear of joints, and reduces the chances of damage to muscles and bones. Core strength training helps ensure that your torso remains steady while you run. The core muscles stabilize your trunk and keep it from wobbling when you move your arms and legs. When all of these muscles are functioning properly, they also reduce the strain on your back and legs.
It may seem obvious that core conditioning also improves posture, which is a bonus for marathon runners. When you’re exhausted at the end of a long race, your coordination and posture tend to suffer and cause you to slow down.
It’s all about control when it comes to core strength training. When you perform core exercises you want to practice proper form to prevent injury. Typically, you’ll want to do each exercise slowly while focusing on specific, controlled motion. At the same time, you’ll want to regulate your breathing, inhaling and exhaling throughout each exercise, so your muscles can receive the oxygen they need for growth and development.
Our ab challenge is a series of core exercises including:
1. Sit-Ups: lying on your back with your feet on the ground, knees bent, hands beside your ears, elbows pointed away from you, bring your body and elbows to touch your knees (keeping your feet on the ground the whole time) that is one rep.
2. Bicycles: lying on your back with your feet on the ground, knees bent, hands beside your ears, elbows pointed away from you, you are crunching your body up to either side so that your shoulder blades come off of the ground and your torso is twisting. At the same time, bring your opposite knee to your opposite elbow. Then back down and switch sides.
3. Leg Raises: lying flat on your back with your arms along side you and your hands palms facing down (you can rest your hands under your pelvis to make it a bit easier) legs long and straight on the ground, lift your legs up until they are in line with your pelvis. toes are flexed so the bottom of your feet are facing the roof. hold and slowly with control lower your legs until they are 1 inch off the ground and then bring them back up again with control. up and down is 1 rep.
4. Plank: you can plank either on your hands or on your elbows (as the girl is in the image). If you are on your hands or elbows you want your joints to always be stacked on top of one another. Shoulders over elbows over wrists or shoulders over elbows. You are on your toes, legs are straight and biggest key point is to keep your whole body in a straight line. Meaning your pelvis does not sick up into the air… don’t let your butt hang out up there! Keep your form just like the girl in the photo below.
**Bonus, another key core exercise that isn’t on the challenge calendar but as a bonus you can do this one. It is called the Superman or backups. This exercise is using the core muscles in our back that ab crunching does not do.
5. Superman: lying on your stomach, hands beside your ears elbows pointed away from you or you can have your arms reached out in front of you (like superman does when he is flying) you are going to use those core back muscles to lift the front of your body off the ground as well as your legs off the of ground using your glute muscles. You don’t have to lift your legs off of the ground, you can start by just doing back ups lifting the front of your torso off the ground hands behind ears if you like and then move into full superman’s once you are comfortable with the exercise.