One of the most common reasons for running injuries is a weak core, which is to say our hips, glutes, lower back and abs. A runner core workout is about so much more than a six pack, it’s important to understand this and create a program that works.
A Canadian study over 13 years and 8,000 people showed a death rate more than double for people with a weak mid-section!
- Core and abs are not the same thing.
- A strong core means better endurance, better strength and a pain free back.
- A strong core also means better posture, which can instantly make you look leaner.
All right now we know it’s important, let’s learn what it does and then work it!!!
How often should runners do core workouts?
A lot. Far more than you are doing!
In fact, prior to every single run is my favorite recommendation and why I developed the 30 Day Runner Core Program!
Doing core work before or after running is often a personal choice. But here’s a breakdown of reasons why doing it around your workout is key:
- Prior to your workout it activates muscles
- Muscle activation means they are ready to work and provide more power
- Prior to a workouts means it’s part of your dynamic warm up and you’re less likely to skip it
- Too much prior to a workout can over fatigue the muscles, in which case why not do half before and half after
- Post workout has fewer benefits on that run, but will benefit you overall
What is Your Core?
It might be called a six pack, but there are actually 8, which you probably know if you’ve seen Magic Mike!
But beyond the visual, there is a whole lot happening in the core that will make you a stronger runner and keep you healthier overall.
External Obliques: The ab muscles along your sides
Internal Obliques: Help to twist your body from side to side
— You can work these with bicycle crunches, side planks, the moves below!
— Super important for keeping shoulders square while running
— Better breathing while running! A sign of oblique weakness is that people stop breathing when performing simple movement patterns to maintain stability.
Rectus Abdominus: The a fore mentioned eight pack across your front
— You can work these through crunches, sit ups, really most any traditional ab move
— Helps to contract the body to curl upper body down or lower body up, helps to raise legs
Transverse Abdominus: Lies beneath your other muscles and it’s your major stabilizer
— You can work this through planks, Pilates, stability ball moves
— Helps to improve breathing for your runs!Hip Flexors: Originating on your spine these muscles help raise your leg
— You can work this through many of the hip exercises I’ve shown!
— Stronger hip flexors mean raising your knee higher and more power in your stride
Lower back (made of 3 muscles): Keep your spine stable and allow you to bend backwards
— You can work these through lying on your stomach and doing supermans, deadlifts
— A weak low back won’t support those strong abdominal muscles
Glutes: Stabilize your hips
— You can work these through squats, lunges, running
— Helps to provide power to your stride, keeps your running gait aligned and ensures your hip flexors aren’t overworked
— And of course we know the glutes aren’t just one large muscle, but 3
What does running do for your core?
Running can help to improve the endurance our core muscles, but the truth is we need to be doing external work to truly get the benefits we’re looking for.
When running faster, you should notice an automatic tightening of your core. This also happens because you are slightly leaning forward and therefore it’s maintaining your balance. Some runners have said this along gave them a six pack, but for most of us that won’t be the case.
Runners Core Workout
Now that we know our abs are so much more than a six pack (and that while most want to be able to see abs, they serve an important purpose), let’s put it all together with a workout you can do prior to your next run.
2 Rounds – 10 reps of each move:
- Alternating side lunge
- Alternating back lunge to front knee raise
- Plank with leg raise
- Russian Twist with Weight
- Glute bridge
Yup, it’s a number of basic movements.
You don’t need crazy wild super complicated movements. In fact, we want ones that we can truly feel and progress by adding bands or over time start to mimic muscles we’d like to activate during the run.
Here are a number of additional free workouts, but honestly if you want to truly see gains. You need a program that you’ll follow and do consistently!
Checkout the 30 Day Runner Core Program >>
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