Core exercises work the central muscles of the body, the abdominal and back muscles. They’re aggravating muscles, because it’s harder to see the results of all your work than it is for other groups. Nor are core exercises any fun and most of us hate performing them. But, they’re necessary, since the entire body hinges on solid core muscles. They stabilize you, keep your back and hips in place and keep the rest of your body in working order. The better shape they’re in, the better everything will be, including your running.
The list of core exercises is large, and it’s not always easy to choose which ones are best to attain your personal goals. The exercises listed below are great for improving your speed and running form. They’re also beneficial exercises for everyone, whether they run or not.
Dumb bell push press – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, holding a dumbbell in either hand. Keep your arms bent at 90 degrees, hands even with your shoulders. Bend your knees to into a squat position, then straighten up into a standing position and raise the weights above your head. Push-presses are not generally considered a “core exercise,” but they work nearly the entire body at once, which means that all of them are doing what they’re supposed to do. In the end, your legs will be stronger for the exercise and your core muscles will be tight.
Leg Lifts – These are far more in line with what people picture when they think the words “core exercise”. Leg lifts are a wonderful exercise, far better than crunches, because they work the entirety of your abdominals. Lying on your back and raising your legs from six inches off the ground to 90 degrees or more works plenty, but if you twist your trunk at the end, it also works your oblique muscles. Stronger abdominals means better breathing ability.
Planks – The basic position for so many exercises. Get into the push-up position, keep your back tense and straight. Keep your hands and feet close together. Keeping yourself stable for from 30 seconds to 3 minute will do wonders for your core, as well as your posture.
Dead lifts – Feet forward, knees and hips bent, grab the bar and straighten up. Pull your shoulders back, then lower the bar back down, bending at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight. This exercise strengthens both your core and legs, which will help you running form and speed.
Hip thrusts – These are great for hip and gluteus strengthening and stabilization. The main reason to do these is that unlike most core exercises, these work the upper glutes far more fully than squats or similar exercises. Since those are best muscles for your hips, strengthening them will help smooth your stride out and reduce your chances of back injury.