A focus on core work for running

When I used to think of core work, I thought it meant doing abdominal exercises in order to get a six pack. I would try to do different Youtube videos each day in a vain attempt to get some definition on my belly.

abs1

Of course, I know now that having the look of ripped abs has more to do with diet than muscle. Most of us have the muscles underneath that could be revealed by a couple toning exercises, but there is a layer of skin and subcutaneous fat above it that makes them harder to see.

That’s just normal. Having a ripped looking core serves no functional purpose especially for us ladies. We have more fat cells in our hips, thighs and abdomen than men for the little ability to have children. For some women, it is really hard to get a ripped looking core and only succeed when dipping below healthy fat levels.

Focusing on core work for me, has changed significantly in the past year. What used to be countless crunches has turned into body weight squats, planks and lunges. By doing balancing exercises and strengthening my stability muscles, I simultaneously strengthen my core.

anatomy, muscles

HavingΒ a stronger core makes running easier because I can use those muscles to make my posture more efficient and thereby using less energy to run. I also sit up straighter, stand taller and have less back pain.

abs3

To work on my core, I do a couple things [or, I try to do them, sometimes they do not happen]

1.) After every run I do bodyweight squats with correct form [toes straight ahead and all the way down to the ground]

2.) Every other night I do a series of glute bridges and crunches for 5-10 minutes

3.) I go to yoga once a week

4.) When I am doing computer work or reading, I get up to stretch once every thirty minutes

5.) I try to stay hydrated [I’m not good at this one early in the AM]

Although these things seem simple and take little time, after doing them since January 1, I can see a difference. Not only has my core gotten stronger, but my ankles and hips are as well. They can get rolled a bit more and recover without an injury. I fell two days ago and feel no knee pain and can still run. I didn’t even have to take off. I attribute these small victories to the attention I have put into detail with my core/stability work.

abs2

I realized my time is better spent doing these things than stretching and a million crunches.

Head over to Amanda’s Blog for more Thinking Out Loud posts!

What things do you do to compliment your running/fitness passion?

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7 comments

  1. I definitely wish I knew back them what I know now… I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy doing crunches. Balancing exercises is where it’s at, and having a strong core helps with so many things beyond fitness. It just makes life easier in general.

  2. Core work is definitely important, and I totally used to obsess and do nothing but core work. For a while I didn’t do any exercises that worked just my core, and still was able to build up muscle. Other than wanting a six-pack people forget about the importance of a strong core.

    • Yea. I find actually that when I have the most defined stomach…I am actually at my weakest in my abdominal muscles. I am stronger with the extra cushion down there!

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