As endurance athletes, the focus often lies on volume in training i.e more time for running, swimming or whichever sport we are focusing on. the core is a often forgotten (or maybe skipped) part of the training.
Having a strong core is vital for a functioning body, especially as an endurance athlete. And with that said, let’s not forget about having a balance between the front and back muscles of the core, i.e between the abdominal and back muscles.
Your core strength is a combination of your abdominal muscles and your back muscles, and it is used all the time. A strong torso will give you good posture, which is beneficial for the expansion of your chest, which in turn has a positive effect on your breathing and oxygen uptake.
As endurance athletes, you should train core-strength
- In swimming, the core has a central role, since it affects our ability to maintain the body’s position in the water. A strong core also gives us a better rotation and is said to give a better swimming technique (see swimming strength).
- When we ride our bikes, of course, your legs have to work hardest, but your muscles in our core need to be strong in order for you to be able to maintain your position on the bike. Static work. If we have a weak body, the upper body will collapse somewhat and we will lose power.
- During running we need a stable and sustained musculature in the core so that you can maintain a good posture. If we succeed in this, it results in better breathing and we get a more efficient and better running step (see running strength).
When training your core, it is extremely important to think about the technique.
13 exercises for your core
We recommend you to do core training three times per week! The following videos are presented by Ingmarie Nilsson, a member of TOT Endurance Club and former National champion over the marathon, half-marathon, and in cross-country.
- Start by laying down with your stomach against the floor resting on your forearms. With the elbows directly under the shoulders, you lift the torso from the ground so that the body forms a straight line from the upper body to the heels.
- Your body weight rests on your forearms and toes. Tighten your stomach and don’t let your hips sink. Your shoulder and elbow should be in a straight line.
- Start on your stomach with your hands held right by your ears. Focus your gaze down on the ground so you can relax your neck while doing the exercise. Lift yourself up so that you feel the lower back work. Activate your glutes throughout the exercise.
- If you raise your arms and hands are stretched over the head, this increases the difficulty level.
- Back extensions can also be done statically. That means that the body is kept in the same position all the time with the muscles activated.
- Lay on your back with your knees at a 90-degree angle to your feet.
- Lift hips and back from the floor so that the body forms a straight line from the shoulder to the knee.
- Tighten your glutes at the top position and avoid lowering your back.
Plank leg raises
- Start on the ground with your stomach against the floor resting on your forearms.
- With the elbows directly under the shoulders, you lift the torso from the ground so that the body forms a straight line from the upper body to the heels.
- Bodyweight rests on forearms and toes.
- Make sure there is a straight line between the shoulder and the elbow.
- With your body static, lift one leg and hold for 10 seconds, alternate your legs for one minute.
- Start by laying on the side of your body, and support the upper body with your forearm on the same side of your body.
- Hold your other hand on the hip of the side that is pointing up.
- Lift the hip and support the body on the forearm and on the outside of your foot.
- Stretch your upper arm over your upper shoulder and head. Hold the position for 30 – 60 seconds.
- Change side and repeat.
- Keep your hip up, don’t let it sink to the floor.
- With the elbows and hands directly under the shoulders, you lift the torso from the ground so that the body forms a straight line from your upper body to your heels.
- Bodyweight rests on hand and toes.
- Tighten your stomach and raise one knee to the same elbow.
- Get back to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other leg.
- Lay on your back with your legs at a 90-degree angle and your lower back pressed against the ground.
- Put your hands right on your ears.
- Twist your body so that the left arm extends towards your knee on the right side.
- Feel how the oblique abdominal muscles work through the movement and remember that the arm and legs do not need to meet.
- Start by laying on your back.
- Lift your legs up, so that you are at a 90-degree angle in your hip.
- Lift your feet straight upwards, and your legs and butt will follow.
- Lower your legs back to the ground in a controlled motion.
- Sit down and place your hands behind your back so that you can bend your elbows.
- Lift your knees, and bend so that your shins are horizontal.
- Lean back, supporting you with your hands. And at the same time, stretch your legs out.
- Your feet should not touch the ground.
- Explosive movement back to the starting position.
Standing on all four, lifting your knees
- Stand on all four, hands placed beneath your shoulders.
- Tighten the trunk and hold that activation as you lift your knees from the ground (a few centimeters).
- Maintain that abdominal pressure and balance.
- Then raise one hand and make a touch on the opposite knee if you feel you have the balance.
- Keep your body stable throughout the movement, and switch hands.
- Start on your back, with your lower back pressed into the ground.
- By pressing your lower back downwards, you keep the tension in your abdominal muscles.
- Stretch out one leg and the opposite arm is lifted straight over the head, alternating arm, and leg.
- Be careful to maintain tension in the abdomen.
Plank with a touch
- Stand in plank with straight arms and a straight line. Keep hands under your shoulders. Feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your left hand and touch your right elbow. Change. Then left hand to right hip. Change.
- Stabilize your core and torso. It´s just your arms that should move in this exercise. Not the hips. If you fall from one side to another move your feet wider apart to get a better balance.
Side plank with a twist
- Stand in plank with straight arms. Keep hands under your shoulders. Feet together.
- Lift right arm and roll over to a side-plank. Make sure you don’t drop the left hip.
- Come over to a plank-position again and move directly over to the other side by lifting your left hand and arm.
- Try to do it in one movement without pausing in the middle.
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