Running needs muscles to be developed. You cannot run perfectly, if you have underdeveloped muscles of core and other body parts. This is especially true for sprinters, while marathon runners may not have perfect physique of the upper body. So, in this article we will tell you about best core workouts for runners. Our article will be useful both for professional athletes and amateur runners. If you are starting your way in fitness, you may also take advantages from it.
What Are Core Muscles?
The muscles of the core are a complex of muscles that are responsible for stabilizing the pelvis, hips and spine. The top 10 muscles of the core include:
- oblique abdominal muscles;
- transverse abdominal muscle;
- rectus abdominis;
- small and medium gluteus muscles;
- adductor muscles;
- hamstring muscles;
- latissimus dorsi muscle;
- musculus infraspinatus;
- coracobrachialis muscle, etc.
In most sports activities (like baseball & American football), the back is the most vulnerable part of the body. Even if you are a runner, you can do harm to your spine. Scientists have revealed that the core muscle, which are body stabilizers, are very important to prevent spine injuries.
Another important thing is that strengthening the muscles of the core really allows you to maintain a beautiful posture and a healthy spine, but in addition, you should definitely put a conscious emphasis on keeping your posture in a straight position throughout the working day, when you are standing, sitting or walking, not to mention running.
Why Do Runners Need to Perform Core Workout Routine?
A proper core workout routine is important for runners due to the following reasons.
1. Reducing the risk of injuries. One of the reasons for the widespread running injuries is muscle imbalance. Many people have some muscles better developed, while other muscle groups are underdeveloped. Not all of these muscles can be strengthened only by running. If you begin to add a running load, your body has to adapt by compensating the action of weaker muscles, using stronger ones. As a result, incorrect motor patterns are generated, the running technique is disrupted. As a result, the body can experience excessive load on certain parts. When their strength is not enough, injuries may occur. Due to strength training (including core workouts), it is possible to achieve a more balanced development by strengthening weak muscle groups, and to reduce the risk of injuries in total.
2. Enhancing running endurance and performance. The standard situation may be as follows: you are running, after a while you get tired and the first thing that “flies” is your posture. As a result, the technique is broken: it’s getting harder to run, the energy goes out more quickly. It is even more difficult to breath properly in such a position. Consequently, you may suffer from running instead of getting a joy.
The correct location of the pelvis and chest relative to each other is provided by the work of the muscles of the back, belly, buttocks and hamstrings (that is, core muscles). As a result, oxygen delivery becomes more effective, fatigue accumulates less, stamina becomes higher. In addition, you can run more consistently (your arms and legs move in unison). The efficiency of running increases: the same work requires less energy. The quadricep is one of the main running muscles, which moves the knee and hip joints forward, is responsible for bending and extension of the knee, takes part of the shock load on landing. Developed quadriceps mean effective stabilization of the knee joint and increased speed. A common problem among runners is the weak gluteal muscles and the back surface of the thigh, which is also belongs to the core muscles. Their strengthening with the help of specialized exercises (which will be provided below) helps to make running repulsion more effective and stronger, and also reduce the burden on the knees, hips and ankles.
3. Maintaining an optimal weight and fat burning. May people want to lose weight in order to run faster (while others run to burn fat). At first stages, it’s not difficult: by running more and controlling your nutrition you can burn excess fat. But after a while the body adapts and begins to burn fewer calories, due to which the efficiency of running increases. In addition, a lot of running and calorie-deficit nutrition may lead not only to fat burning, but also to muscle catabolism. For older runners, things are even sadder: muscle mass gradually goes away with age (you can use our tips provided in article on how to boost testosterone naturally). If you have less muscles, the metabolism slows down. The best solution in this vicious cycle is strength training. If you strengthen and preserve the muscles, you maintain metabolism, burn more fat, and improve the composition (fat-muscle ratio) of the body.
Well, let’s switch to the core exercises, which will be useful both for runners and other people.
Mo Farah’s Best Core Workout Routine
After the triumph of Mo Farah at the Olympic Games-2012 in London, his coach, Alberto Salazar, was asked what is the secret of their success. And that’s what he said: “When Mo started training with me 18 months ago, he was a skinny long-distance runner with well-developed legs, but with poor upper body. At the end of the run race, he was tired, his head began to dangle from side to side, and his hands fought against the body. Of all the athletes I’ve ever trained, he had the weakest muscles of the core: he could only do push-ups, leg raises, and one-legged sit-ups.” Mo was able to achieve such high results not only because every week he ran 180 km, but also thanks to 3.5 hours spent in the gym.
You can use exercises from 30-minute Mo Farah’s program for the development of strength and strengthen the muscles of the core.
- Turning the legs with a gymnastic ball. Lie on the floor, lift your legs up and clasp the ball with ankles. Straining the muscles of the press and waist, perform the turns of the pelvis and legs from side to side.
- Lifting the body with a gymnastic ball. Lie down on the floor, lift your legs up and clasp the ball with your ankles. Perform body lifts as high as possible.
- “Climber” with a gymnastic ball. Put your forearms on the fitness ball and assume the same position of the body as in the exercise of the bar. Contract the abs muscles and alternately tighten the knees before touching the ball.
- Turning the body to the sides with the gymnastic ball (“Russian twist”). Sit on the floor, slightly bend back, bend your knees (they should not touch the floor), pick up the ball. Contract the muscles of the abs, perform alternating turns of the body. In each case, you need to touch the ball surface.
- Vertical toe touches with a resistance band. Stand up straight, tie the band around the legs at the level of the knees. Take your legs to one side alternately, overcoming the resistance of the band.
- Leg extensions with a resistance band. Stand straight, tie the band around the legs at the ankle level. Take one leg back, overcoming the resistance of the band.
- Side plank on the ball. Start from the position of the side plank. The shins should be located on the ball. Contract the muscles of the abs and pull up the upper knee to the chest. Turn over to the other side and repeat the exercise with the other leg.
These were really the best core workouts, believe us.
The Bottom Line on Core Workout for Runners
When doing strength training, increase the load gradually. Never miss a workout and a hitch. The process of building up the strength should proceed smoothly. The training plan should focus on complex, harmonious muscle development, together with the development of general strength and explosive power. It is best to choose a separate day for strength training, when you do not run. This avoids excessive fatigue and most effectively perform the exercises.
If you do not have days off (although it is desirable that you have them), try to start resistance training only when you are not hungry and are recovered from running. Core workouts for runners will help you look better and run faster!
In addition, if you are a runner, you might be interested in the leg and butt workout for runners.