Saturday, April 24, 2010

Runner's Core 10 x 10 Circuit Workout

An often overlooked but vitally important key to successful running is having a strong core. Whether you're a beginning runner or a seasoned runner, having a strong core will support good running form, delay the onset of fatigue, and produce more energy output for your legs.

When "core" is mentioned, abdominal muscles are usually what come to mind along with the image of airbrushed Calvin Klein models. Pretty rippled ab muscles aren't what we're shooting for here. Now, if you get them in the process, that's a bonus, but I'm talking more about strengthening all the muscles in and around your torso—obliques, lats, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, as well as the rectus abdominis (the abs).

Crunches are often what come to mind when core exercises are mentioned. While the trunk flexion motion of a crunch may produce pretty surface abdominal muscles, it doesn't do a lot to provide for a strong core, mainly because the movement is not a very natural movement. How many times a day to you bring your head up to your knees? Probably not very often. But, how often to you reach up, reach diagonally, turn from side-to-side, reach down, reach down diagonally? My guess would be hundreds of times. To build a strong core you need to move your core through a wide-range of natural movements, moving through all the planes of motion.

Below is a 10-exercise workout that includes a variety of simple core-strengthening exercises using a medicine ball. The workout is designed as a circuit. A circuit is a series of exercises that you complete consecutively with no rest in between. This circuit is a 10 x 10, meaning that there are 10 exercises for which you each complete 10 repetitions. If you don't have a medicine ball, no worries. A light dumbbell will do or even a laundry detergent bottle! Take a look, try it out and let me know what you think.

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Tall Girl Running said...

Hey Runner Dude,

I've been feeling like my core workout needed a shake-up for awhile now so it didn't take much to convince me to try yours. I don't have a medicine ball at home so I had to watch your video a couple times and makes notes to take with me to the gym. I ended up doing four sets of the 10x10's with a 10 lb. ball then two more sets after my cardio circuits. Loved it! It wasn't so difficult that I struggled to get through the circuit but I could tell I was engaging some core muscles that hadn't been targeted before. I also felt like I got a little bit of a cardio workout by not resting between the exercises, not to mention the little bit of work it also gave my arms and legs. Only downside was that at the end of each set, my thumbs and fingers were a little sore from gripping and maneuvering the ball... but that's a very small price to pay for a strong, solid core!

My true test of a good core workout is whether it hurts to cough or laugh the next day. While it's still a little early to tell yet, I think I'm going to be hoping nobody tells me any funny jokes tomorrow. ;-)

Thanks for a great new routine! I'm going to make it a point to incorporate it into my workouts on a regular basis.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Tall Girl Running! That's awesome! Circuits are great because they do also get your heart rate up for a little cardio too. Let me know how you feel tomorrow. For me it's usually the second day I feel it. LOL!

Dena said...

Awesome video! I found some new exercises to try. I'll try any exercise that has the word "plop" in it. :)

RunnerDude said...

Hi Dena! Glad you liked it! Yep, can you tell I named the "plop" exercise myself? LOL!

Stan said...

great stuff...excellent wrap up to the weekend.
lots of new exercise--thanks for sharing some new core moves.

Tall Girl Running said...

Well, I can't say I was terribly sore today so I think the next time around I'll increase the reps to 15 and see how that feels. I'd try a heavier medicine ball but the 10-pounder is the heaviest one my gym offers.

Being sore the next day isn't always indicative of an effective workout, though, is it?

RunnerDude said...

Hey Tall Girl Running! You're a fit person,so it may take more of a variation to notice some soreness. You might want to even try doing the set twice with a minute or so rest inbetween. Also be sure to really be engaging (tensing) the muscles in your midsection while doing the circuit. Sometimes just that mental focus and really make a difference. Sometimes the soreness doesn't appear until the second day.

run with Jill said...

Awesome. I'm trying this one out today. I love using the medicine ball and i love the fact I can do this workout at home.
Thanks. The video is great!

Anonymous said...

I've been using this routine for the past week or so, and I'm really enjoying it. It's definitely challenging (the 2 seated versions of the Russian Twist are killers for me) but the variety of moves makes the routine mentally easy and kind of fun. I believe these exercises are helping my flexibility as well as strengthening my core. Thanks very much for posting this.