So You Want A Strong Core
Yeah, me too. The thing is I can continue to work my butt off to get superficial “6-pack” looking abs and still not necessarily have a strong core. On the flip side one can have a strong core and not necessarily be sporting a washboard belly. Say what?! There is hope for us all!
The all-knowing, never wrong internet provided the following definitions for me:
Abdominal Muscles: Muscles in front of the abdomen
Core: Center or innermost
So I am working with two different groups of muscles here. Man, is this confusing or what? Since I didn’t major in ENS and I am not a trainer I am just going to break down who,what,when, where, why and how I get it done.
As A Runner
It is important for me to listen to my body. If it says no, it means NO. Like don’t do it no matter how bad I want to. If that means no running for several days and focusing on getting strong I do it. I might not like it, but I do it (for the most part).
What: Core Workout
When: 2-3x week @ 5 am
Where: Usually the gym, but sometimes in my office (with the door closed) and at home at night
Why: A strong core means my chances of injury are reduced. A strong core supports my spine meaning a strong back! A strong core helps to stabilize my abs (trans abs and obliques), glutes and pelvis which helps me to run more efficiently (or so I hope).
How: NOT JUST SITUPS! Yes I do them, but there are many other exercises that help strengthen the core peeps!
The Plank: The ultimate test of my core. I do traditional and side planks and hold each position for 60 seconds. I do not rest between sets because if I do I get lazy. Key: Start Slow! If you have never done a plank holding it for 15 seconds feels like a life time. Doing other core strengthening exercises will help you to be able to hold your planks longer and longer!
The Corkscrew: This works my lower abs. I lay flat on the ground with my legs in the air, arms on the ground by my side. I lift my hips and twist to the right then lower back to the ground. Then I repeat the left side. I do 10 on each side and then rest. I have made it up to 2 sets so far- these babies are not easy. Maybe it’s because I am not the most coordinated person!
Hip Twists: Yes more twisting. I feel like I get the best workout when twisting is involved. Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about my ab workout people. I lay flat on the ground, legs in the air, hands down by my side. I hold a stability/exercise ball between my feet and then rotate side to side. Make sense? I do 3 sets of 10 rotations. This also works my lower abdominals.
Back Extensions: I am bad at this exercise but it rocks.
Oblique Roll: I get into the plank position with your shins about hip-width apart on a stability/exercise ball with my hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. I keep my feet on the ball and draw my right knee toward your right shoulder (the left just comes along for the ride) and then return to center and do the left side. I also do these as regular ab rolls where I just draw both knees into my chest and then return to center. I do 2-3 sets of 10 with about 30ish seconds in between sets. This works shoulders, chest, obliques, back, and glutes.
Sit-Ups/Crunches: I do traditional crunches and oblique crunches on an exercise ball. I also do bicycle crunches on a floor mat.
Medicine Ball Twists: Standing or sitting on the floor I do side to side rotations with a medicine ball weighing between 4-8 lbs. I love working out with a medicine ball- it makes me feel strong!
You can also incorporate squats and dead-lifts to work your core!
Soooo now you know a few moves that I use on a weekly basis to get my core workout on. You have probably heard of most of them and may even do a lot of these from time to time. The key for me is consistency. If I do this workout every now and again I end up sore with little to no results. The more I do this workout (along with other strength training exercises) the better I get at it and the stronger I feel.
Do you work your core?! If so share some of your moves!