Having a strong core is integral in building a solid running program. A strong core helps create a runner’s longevity on the road and can help alleviate back pain. As you add miles, hill repeats and speed work, a strong core can carry you through. When working your core, you want to think about exercises that are multi-planer. That means that while exercising and doing various tasks throughout the day, people tend to focus forward and not cross the midline of their bodies. Multi-planar exercises involve the three anatomical planes.
The 3 planes are:
- Sagital – divides the body into left and right halves
- Frontal – divides the body into front and back halves
- Transverse – divides the body into top and bottom halves
The following multi-planer circuit has three exercises what will help you build core strength. You’ll need a medicine ball or a 5-10 lb. weight. Repeat this circuit 3-5 times, 3-4 times a week:
- Wood Choppers with Medicine Ball – 30-60 seconds on each side
- Mountain Climbers with Knee Cross- 45-60 seconds
- Sewing the Needle- 45-60 seconds
Wood Choppers with Medicine Ball
Hold the medicine ball or weight in both hands. Stand with your feet and legs shoulder width apart, and abs engaged. Lower body into a rotational squat (left photo), rotating torso and medicine ball, towards your right knee, pivoting your feet with knees bent and aligned accordingly. Lower medicine ball toward the outside of right foot. Now with force, speed and strength, reverse the movement, twisting your torso toward the left, using your quads, glutes and hamstrings to straighten your legs and lifting your arms back up toward the left side of your head (right photo). Continue raising medicine ball above your torso. That is one rep on the right side. Complete for time of 30 -60 seconds on the left side, followed by 30-60 seconds on the right. Repeat three rounds each side.
Mountain Climbers with Knee Cross
Begin in push up position; hands under shoulders and toes on the ground under heels. Keep your back like a long “plank” with your core engaged. In this position, while holding body up with your hands, bring your right knee toward your chest, with your left foot back and leg extended (left photo). Alternate legs for 10 counts each side. Then bring your right knee toward your left elbow, with left foot and leg extended (right photo). Alternate with left knee towards right elbow for 10 counts. Repeat pattern for 45-60 seconds.
Sewing the Needle
Begin in push up position; maintaining hands under shoulders and toes on the ground under heels. Keeping torso steady, raise left arm and reach it through the body and behind your right arm and right side of your body, slightly rotating your chest, but attempting to keep hips steady (top photo). Bring right arm back, rotating torso to a side plank with left arm extended above left shoulder (bottom photo). Hence, “Sewing the Needle” for the name. Repeat for 30 seconds (or 10-15 reps) on the right side and 30 seconds (or 10-15 reps) on the left side.
While these exercises can be challenging after a solid run, they will help you recover faster and run farther within a few weeks. Power to you runners and your strong core; run on and run far!
Erin Kreitz Shirey owns Power Fitness PDX, is a nationally awarded personal trainer and fitness coach, health & fitness editor for Manilla.com and creator of the 21Day Challenge App. She holds a BS in Kinesiology, ACE, TRX, Stott Pilates Mat, Sports Nutrition and Fit to Deliver certified. When not teaching boot camps, presenting or training for triathlons you can find Erin biking with her family, while periodically stopping to make her kids laugh by doing the running man. Twitter @powerfitness, Facebook @DigDeepPlayHard and digdeepplayhard.com.