Running Specific Core Strength Exercises

 

By Rick Morris

 

The most commonly performed core strength exercises are crunches, sit ups and the plank exercise. All three of those exercises to a good job of building the strength of your abdominal muscles and hip flexors. Strong abs and hip flexor muscles are a good attribute for any distance runner. A strong core is necessary to support your hard working leg muscles and upper body. While those three core strength exercises, along with their many variants, are great running strength workouts, they aren't particularly running specific. There are some other, less common, core exercises that do an even better job of targeting your running specific movements and motions.

 

Here are a few running specific core strength exercises that are designed to focus on functional running strength. Including these core workouts along with the more common ones will give you a well rounded and complete level of running specific core strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runners Twist

 

This is similar to an oblique crunch with a twist. It works your abdominal muscles, oblique abdominal muscles and hip flexors.

Begin on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent at about 90 degrees.

Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out.

Slowly curl your upper body upward until your shoulder blades are about 12 inches off the ground. Hold that position.

Now twist your body to the left and at the same time pull your left knee towards your body. Touch your right elbow to your left knee are return to the ready position with your shoulder blades about 12 inches off the ground. Don’t return to your starting position flat on the ground.

Now repeat that motion while twisting to the right and touch your  left elbow to your right knee.

Keep up this sequence for 30 seconds to one minute.

 

Side Plank

 

Similar to a standard plank, except it works your important hip abductor muscles, which support your hips during a running stride.

Lie on your left side with your weight supported on your left forearm and the side of your left foot with your right leg and foot stacked on top of your left. Your body should be completely straight and supported off the ground. Only your left forearm and the left side of your foot should be touching the ground.

Contract your core muscles to stabilize your body.

Now raise your right leg laterally away from your body and hold that position for 20 to 30 seconds.

Repeat on the same side for your desired number of repetitions.

Switch sides and repeat.

 

Side Star

 

This is a harder and more advanced version of the side plank.

Lie on your left side with your upper body supported by your extended left arm and hand. Your lower body should be supported by the side of your left foot. Your body should be completely straight and supported off the ground. Only your left hand and the left side of your foot should be touching the ground. Your right arm should be resting along the right side of your body.

Contract your core muscles to stabilize your body.

Now raise your right leg and right arm laterally away from your body. At the same time raise your lower body by pushing your left leg and hip laterally away from the ground. Hold that position for about 45 seconds.

Switch sides and repeat.

 

Advanced Bench Side Plank

 

The most advanced in the series of side planks, this exercise is excellent at strengthening your hip stability during your running stride.

Lie on your left side with your upper body supported by your left hand and your lower body supported by your left foot on a bench of 12 to 16  inches in height. Your right leg and foot  should be stacked on top of your left. Your body should be completely straight and supported off the ground.

Contract your core muscles to stabilize your body.

Now raise your right leg laterally away from your body and hold that position for 20 to 30 seconds.

Repeat on the same side for your desired number of repetitions.

Switch sides and repeat.

 

Bench Hip Abduction

 

Begin on your left side with your upper body supported by your left forearm and elbow.

Place your extended left leg and foot on a bench or box that is 16 to 24 inches in height. Stack your right leg on top of your left.

Now raise your right leg and right arm laterally away from your body. At the same time raise your lower body by pushing your left hip laterally away from the ground.

Hold this position for about 30 to 45 seconds and slowly return to your starting position.

Switch sides and repeat.

 

Advanced Bench Hip Drops

 

This hip abduction exercise is harder than it looks.

Begin on your left side with your upper body supported by your left forearm and elbow.

Place your extended left leg and foot on a bench or box that is 16 to 24 inches in height. Stack your right leg on top of your left.

Now raise your hip until your body is completely straight and supported only by your left forearm and left foot.

Now drop your left hip towards the ground and bring back up to a straight body position. Don’t lower your body to the ground during this exercise. Just drop your hip towards the ground so your body has a downward curve at your hip.

Keep repeating this exercise until you are fatigued.

Switch sides and repeat.

 

Hip Roll Strides

 

This simple, but surprisingly difficult exercise, does a great job of improving the functional strength and stabilizing strength of your hip muscles.

This exercise is similar to standard hip rolls with the addition of a knee drive.

Stand on a bench or step with your right foot on the bench. Your left foot should be held unsupported next to your right foot. Your hips should be level with both feet held at the same height.

Lower and roll your unsupported left foot towards the ground and forward by dipping the left side of your pelvis and at the same time rolling it backward. Continue the cycling motion by raising your left hip and rolling it forward. As your hip is rolled forward drive your knee up as in a running stride. As your hip rolls down and back, drive your foot down and back like a push off in your running stride. Your body should remain completely vertical.

Continue for about 45 seconds, then switch legs and repeat the exercise.

Keep your body completely vertical with no lateral, forward or backward lean.

 

 

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