If you’re trying to improve your running, core strength is essential.
Many running careers are hindered by injury, lack of speed or poor balance – three issues often caused by a weak core.
As a physical therapist, I continually treat runners who struggle to run consistently and without injury due to core weakness.
Let’s take a look at why the core is so important and what you can do to make it stronger.
Why Target the Core?
Core strength allows the pelvis, hips and lower back to work together more effectively, increasing stability and balance throughout the whole body. If you’re hoping to run for longer durations and avoid injury, it’s so important to build strength and fitness in the center of the body.
Despite what many people believe, the core isn’t all about the abs. These workouts will help you control and coordinate your body more successfully, overcoming missteps and challenges with ease.
What Are the Best Core Strength Exercises to Try at Home?
Here are some of the best exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home, complete with progressions that make them consistently beneficial.
Grab your mat and let’s get going!
Exercise 1: Bridge Sequence
Bridging is an excellent way to build strength in the core while allowing you to identify the weaknesses you need to target.
Begin this exercise by lying on your back with your knees bent, then bridge up onto the heels. Hold this position for 10 seconds at first and over time, build up to 60. If you’re finding this easy, it’s time to move on to some progressions.
The first progression that will make this exercise more advantageous is hovering, designed to build core strength and intensify your hold.
While in the bridge position, raise each leg in turn and hold it in the air for 10 seconds at a time. Repeat 5 times for optimum results, and try to build up to 60 seconds if possible. If you’re sinking your butt or rotating your legs towards either side, you’ve identified a weakness. Work on staying as straight as possible for the best results!
The final progression for this exercise is all about movement. Instead of hovering your legs, introduce some simple kicking motions. If one side is more strained than the other, this is a sure sign that your core is weaker in some areas than others.
Repeat the motion for 10 seconds at a time and repeat 5 times to see a vast improvement.
Exercise 2: Front Plank
The second exercise to try from home is a front plank. This is ideal for targeting the center of your core, especially if you keep your body as straight as possible. Lie on your front, extend your legs and raise your body into a plank. Hold for 10 seconds at first, then build up to 60 seconds before adding in your progressions.
To enhance your front plank with hovering, keep your back straight and raise each leg into the air. Make sure you’re channelling your core strength to keep things stable and repeat 5 times for each hovering position.
Movement progressions really ramp up the intensity when it comes to working out the core. Instead of moving your legs up and down, in this exercise, you should focus on driving them outwards instead. Continue the progression for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times for best results.
Exercise 3: Side Plank
This exercise is probably the most important of all, designed to build side strength and stability. Most runners already have a strong front core and find most of their weakness lies in the sides of their bodies.
Begin in a side plank using the knees, then when you feel comfortable, move into a full side plank extension. When you’re able to hold for 60 seconds, incorporate the same progressions as the full plank by hovering first, then add dynamic movement.
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If you’re interested in finding out more about how strength training and proper form can improve your running and prevent injuries, check out RunSmart today.
The RunSmart app offers:
- Exclusive access to more than 40 strength programs that fix imbalances that cause injury and slower running.
- More effective injury prevention and better recovery with the full RunSmart Protocol seminar and step-by-step guide to training better.
- Your very own custom training plan (based on the Gonser Method) to prevent injury and maximize performance.
- Enrolment on our RunSmart Mechanix improvement program, designed to help you address and fix your running form.
- Exclusive access to a leading team of world-class coaches, including myself, with live Q&A sessions and direct lines to ask questions.
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