You’ve logged the miles and hit your splits, but just because the run is over doesn’t mean the workout is. Complementing your cardio workout with core exercises can help strengthen muscles that fight fatigue during races and long runs. Plus, a strong core provides a base for the whole body to work harder, together.
Running coach and three-time Olympic Trials marathoner, Becki Spellman says, “Our body works as a whole, and as runners, it’s easy to think that just simply running the miles is making us stronger.” She adds, “It does, but without a focus on other muscles, injury risk is greater, our bodies aren’t as strong and our muscles won’t work as efficiently as possible.”
We caught up with Becki to find out which core workouts you should do after you’ve crossed the finish line. While you can do these exercises every day, Becki recommends starting off by incorporating these moves into your routine two or three days a week.
- Hip Lock Bridge: This move will help activate your glutes to enhance your strength and help your hamstrings, core and glutes learn how to work in the correct muscle pattern. “For this move, you’ll want to tighten your stomach while engaging your Transverse Abs (TA), more commonly known as your inner abs. Be sure to keep your back straight and push up with your foot on the floor by tightening your glute. Hold for 5 seconds and do two sets of 15 for each side,” advises Becki.
- Bird dog: Typically, your inner abs are only engaged in a static position; however, with this move, your TA will stay engaged while you’re moving, teaching it work in active motions, like running, too. “Push your shoulders into the ground, tighten your TA, tighten your glute to straighten your leg, and keep your back level through the movement,” advises Becki. She notes that you should shoot to do two sets of 10 reps on each side, holding for five seconds and slowing moving your leg up and down about one inch.
- Pushup on stability ball: A new, sweaty twist on a classic full body move. For this one, you’ll need to grab a stability ball in order to add a bit of variation and forcing your core to stay on top of random movements. Becki explains, “Place your hands directly below your shoulders, keep your elbows in close to your sides, tighten your TA and pull your belly button in. Then, slowly lower your body to the ground and slowly push back up,” she adds. Becki suggests doing three sets of 10.
- Side Twist Plank: This variation of a normal plank will help stabilize your core muscles and stop you from twisting while you’re running. Becki adds: “Here, you’ll tighten your TA as you move from the low plank position to the side plank position, all while trying to keep your back straight and your hips level. To add an extra move, raise your leg each time you twist. Do two sets of 10 each side.”
- Squats: While this might seem like a classic leg move, strengthening your quads can have a great effect on your core. Becki: “Keep your chest up, engage your abs and push your butt back into a squat position. Don’t force full range of motion, only go to where you are comfortable and have good form.” She also suggests doing this one in front of a mirror to keep an eye on your form.
- Mountain Climbers: “This non-traditional, quick move and high-rep exercise will strengthen your core and engage your glutes to allow you proper knee drive while running—rather than relying on your quads.” Becki explains that you should keep your arms shoulder-width apart, and mimic good knee drive, bringing each knee to your chest individually. She also notes that you do not have to start fast but should try to work up to two sets of 15 per side.
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