In many a post, I've lauded the benefits of a strong core for runners. A strong core and upper-body means prolonged strong running form. Prolonged strong running form means more time before fatigue sets-in on a long run. Next to improper fueling, fatigue is one of the main causes of runners hitting the wall.
Running is often thought of as a lower-body activity. It is, but it's just as much, if not more, an upper-body activity. A runner's power orignates from the core and moves down the legs. If a runner has a weak upper-body and begins to slouch on a run, that puts more stress on the core, making it work harder. If the core isn't strong, then it too will fatigue, leaving the legs to fend for themselves.
Below is an easy core circuit workout to help improve your core strength. It only takes a few minutes and all that's needed is a couple of dumbbells and an exercise mat. If you're new to working your core, start with light dumbbells, (5lbs or 8lbs). If you've been working your core, then a 10lb dumbbell may be more suitable for your starting weight. You don't need a ton of resistance to get a great workout with this circuit, so working your way to 15lbs for some of the workouts is probably the most you'll ever need. For some of the exercises (i.e., the Dumbbell Leg Lift) 5lbs or 8lbs is all you'll ever need.
Ease into the circuit. Begin with 8 to 10 repetitions of each exercise. Move from one exercise to the next without rest. That's one circuit. Take your rest at the end of the circuit. Make your initial goal to complete one circuit of the exercises. Once you've acclimated to doing one circuit of 8-10 reps for each exercise, you can up the ante by increasing the reps to 10-12 or 12-15, increase the weight of the dumbbells, or increase the number of times you do the circuit to 2 or 3.
Remember, before beginning any new exercise routine (especially if you're brand new to fitness), it's best to consult your doctor prior to doing the workout.
For a core workout using a med ball [click here].