August 2022 Challenge: Arms + Core (Weeks 2 & 4)

Complete these Arm and Core exercises twice during weeks 2 and 4!

You’ve probably heard that building up core strength has many benefits when it comes to running. At a high level, a strong core can improve your posture and speed. Because your arms and legs all stem from the core, the strength in your limbs is tied to the strength in your torso. A strong core is a solid foundation for strength in the rest of the body!

The main benefit of core strength for runners is increased stabilization in our torso. Our core muscles (the chest, back, abs, and obliques) are what keep our torso upright when we run, and reduce “wobbling” when moving your arms and legs. Core strength allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly to expend less energy. Core strength also significantly improves balance, meaning that you recover quickly from missteps small and large.

Core strength for distance runners is especially important. Towards the end of long runs or races, when we’re extremely fatigued, our form begins to suffer. Poor form slows us down and makes us prone to injury. A strong core helps us maintain good posture, and reduces the pains that result from poor posture over a long distance.

The following exercises will help us strengthen our Core and our arms too! Strong arms, shoulders and back can make us faster and will help us to feel better at the end of effort workouts and long runs. Swinging your arms back and forth while running allows your lower body to do less work. Pumping our arms (while you move your legs in stride) keeps us upright, counterbalances our legs and help our body transfer power from one side to the other.

Rocky Solo: The Rocky Solo exercise targets our lower Rectus Abdominus, Obiliques and Spinal Erectors. If you don’t have a medicine ball you can definitely use a dumbbell for this exercise. Don’t be afraid to pick up a weight that is a little heavier. Keep your core tight and don’t rush the twist!

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight, and hold a medicine ball with both hands just above your lap. Sit tall, up out of your hips and engage your core.
  2. Twist your torso to the right and place the ball behind you. Then twist all the way to your left and pick the ball up and bring it back to the starting position.
  3. That’s 1 repetition. Repeat for 30 seconds in the same direction then switch it up and go the other direction for another 30 seconds.

Weighted Boat Rock: The Weighted Boat Rock exercise is a great challenge and can be modified by keeping the feet lightly on the floor instead of in the air. It’s important to keep your core tight and your hips stabilized as you rock back and forth.

  1. Start by sitting with a weighted ball between your knees. If you don’t have a medicine ball, use a pillow! This won’t be as heavy but squeezing your legs together to secure the pillow will have a smilier effect as holding the medicine ball.
  2. Scoop the lower abdominals back towards your spine and stabilize your hips.
  3. Raise your legs off the ground (or keep your feet lightly touching the ground) and sway your legs to one side while swaying your arms to the opposite side. BREATHE and sway both your arms and legs to the opposite side.
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

Medicine Ball / Dumbbell Front Raise + Shoulder Press: This exercise requires core strength and stabilization as well and also work ours arms. Take your time don’t rush through this exercise!

  1. Stand tall with a medicine ball or dumbbell low in front of your body.
  2. Engage your core by squeezing your abdominals into your lower back, lengthen your spine then lift the medicine ball/dumbbell up to chest height. Hold there for a second then shift the medicine ball/dumbbell and push up above your head.
  3. Bring it down slowly into your starting position.
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

Thigh Roll Back: This kneeling lean back exercise is great for strong knees, back, abs, glutes, and quads! This exercise helps us learn to engage our core and glutes to protect our low back. You will also feel this exercise in your quads and glutes. Quads and glutes should be engaged! If they aren’t engaged, you’ll know because you will start to feel this move in your low back.

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your legs slightly apart. Rest your arms by your sides and squeeze your core, glutes and hamstrings.
  2. To make sure you are engaging your core, drive down through the balls of your flexed feet, and lean back. Do not arch your back as you lean back but simply move from your knees.
  3. Lean back as far as you can with your body in a nice straight line. Then slowly come back forward. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abs the entire time.
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

Cosmonaut Sit Ups: Cosmonaut Sit ups are sit ups with one weight added to apply torque and load. You will sit with leg straight out in from of you then sit straight up pushing the weight into the air while holding your core tight. Work on not allowing your body to sway to the side. Repeat on one side for 30 seconds then switch to the other side!

Bonus points for adding in some Russian Twists once your sit ups are done! 😉

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