It’s Ab day again and we can’t talk about abs without talking about how our they affect our running….but come on…we’re ALWAYS talking about running…
There are two types of runners: those who have great abs, and those who want them! Go ahead, admit it: you want great abs! It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Besides looking good, great abs really are healthy. Research has shown that, for both genders, there is a strong correlation between the amount of abdominal fat a person has and the risk of developing metabolic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Obviously, men and women with visible abdominal muscles have a small amount of belly fat and therefore a lower risk for these diseases.
Blah Blah Blah…right? Yea we all know great abs are healthy, but more important (to us) how to do they affect our running???
It’s no coincidence that great abs also result in other benefits specific to runners: better running performance and fewer injuries!
Visible abdominal muscles result not just from having a small amount of abdominal fat but also from having well conditioned core musculature. Strong abs increase the stability of your hips, pelvis, and even your knees during running. (SCORE!)
The result is less strain on your muscles and connective tissues and less chance of injury. Also, by minimizing wasteful movement at the joints, strong abs make your stride more efficient, so you can run faster, longer. That’s what we all want right? To run faster and longer!
Even if you run 50 miles a week, your paunch won’t vanish if you continue to eat donuts and french fries all day long. We have to eliminate those extra calories from your diet that are turned into belly fat. So diet is an important part of the equation.
If you’ve worked hard and only have a very small amount of belly fat, you still need to condition your abdominal muscles with core strength exercises, because your core muscles won’t show through if they are poorly conditioned.
The take away: Eat Good and Do Your Ab Exercises! 🙂
Day 10 exercises: Abs – 3 sets :30 each move
- Roll Up
- Pilates Scissors
- Brid Dog Crunch right side
- Boat Pose
- Bird Dog Crunch left side
- Side Plank – :30 each side
Bonus: There are dozens of abdominal exercises you can use to strengthen your midsection; the best ones for runners are those that have the most functional carryover to the act of running. I’ve done tons of research and the 3 exercises below are the best of the best for runners. Pick one, or do all three and tell us which one was your favorite. If you love the exercise keep doing it on ab day. Progress by adding additional repetitions.
I’m not adding videos for these so you need to pay close attention to the directions. But I would love to see your video to show others and to see if you’re doing it correct!
*Side Note: You may notice that these exercises not only target our core, but they’re also great for our hips and pelvis! 🙂
Lying Draw-In with Hip Flexion
Benefit: teaches your deep abs to stabilize the pelvis during alternating leg movements.
Lay face up with your head supported by a large pillow or foam roller. Begin with your legs bent 90 degrees and your thighs perpendicular to the floor, feet together. Engage your deep abs by drawing your navel toward your spine. While holding this contraction, slowly lower your right foot to the floor, return slowly to the starting position, and then lower the left foot. If you find this easy, you are failing to hold the contraction of your deep abs. Lower each foot to the floor 8 to 10 times.
Benefit: strengthens the abdominal muscles that prevent excessive trunk rotation during running
Lay face up with your arms resting at your sides and your palms flat on the floor. Extend your legs directly toward the ceiling, keeping your feet together, and point your toes. Keeping your big toes side-by-side, tip your legs 12 to 18 inches to the right by twisting at the hip, so that your left buttock comes off the floor. Fight the pull of gravity by maintaining stability with your abs and obliques. Pause for a moment, then return slowly to the start position, again using your core muscles to control the movement. Repeat on the left side.
Benefit: strengthens the lower abs and hip flexors with a running-specific leg action
Lay face up with your arms resting at your sides. Begin with your legs extended and your feet raised two inches above the floor, heels together. Press the small of your back into the floor. Now draw your left knee toward your head while keeping your right leg extended and your lower spine in contact with the floor. Return to the starting position and then draw your left knee toward your head. Repeat 8-12 times with each leg.
Speed Work: For most of us, today is the last chance to do speed work before our long run this weekend. What are you waiting for? Click here and scroll down for this week’s “short” ladder workout.
Stretching: I’ve laid off harping about stretching lately….does that mean your not doing it? I can talk about it more! 😉 If stretching is not part of your every day routine, your body is missing out on a very important and relaxing part of the plan. If you’ve yet to face an injury use stretching as prehab rather than rehab! If you’ve had some niggling pain this should be a no brainer for you! Our 7 Key Stretches for Runners hit all the major parts and it doesn’t take long. Please, take time to stretch.
That’s all for today Crew. Getting defined abs is another step in the process to becoming a more efficient, faster runner. And all those other health benefits too…take your time and use your core to power through our exercises today!
If you hear that voice inside that yells “can’t” DON’T LISTEN. Push harder and listen for the voice that whispers CAN!