If you are having a hard time getting the most out of your running program maybe it is time you take a peek at some of the best abs exercises we found for runners. While the rectus abdominus muscles, also known as the ‘six pack’, may look pretty and well toned, they are the least important part of your middle as it relates to running. The deep abs (transversus abdominis), muscles along the spine, the spine-pelvis connector muscles, external, and internal obliques combine to be the key to core stabilization. You need more than just crunches to train these parts of the core; you need the best abs exercises if you want the best results.
Weak abs come from poor posture and sitting around all day. Even doing hundreds of crunches everyday only works a small portion of the entire abdominal area leaving the rest weak in comparison. A strong core helps to translate the power of the legs to drive the body forward. Most runners have weak abs which then leads to a running stride that is either too long or too short along with the hips swinging side to side. This creates an overall inefficiency to your motion. Taking time to focus on the best abs exercises will strengthen the entire core and result in efficient running.
Basics of Core Work
Core work is different than other weight lifting exercises. The focus is on very simple, low impact movements. There is usually no weight involved and they must be done with proper form and body positioning. If you are unable to maintain your form, settle for fewer repetitions until you can build up stamina. Of the exercises listed below start with one or two each session and alternate until strength has been built up.
Best Abs Exercises
Floor Y’s - Lie face down with your forehead pressed to the ground. Your arms should stretch out in front of you making a “Y” shape. With your thumbs pointing towards the ceiling slowing lift your arms until they are 3 to 4 inches off the ground. Hold that position two seconds before returning back down. Do two sets of six to eight reps.
Rear Bridge and Knee Lift - Lie flat on your back with arms by your sides, hands up. Position your feet flat on the ground (knees bent) about a foot from your bottom. Push down on your heels and raise your pelvis to create a 90 degree angle between your calves and hamstrings. Your body should be in a flat plank from knee to shoulder. Now lift your right leg and draw your knee towards your chest while keeping the 90 angle. Stop when your knee is above your ribcage and then reverse the motion. Next repeat the motion with your left leg. Complete two sets of six to eight reps.
Superman Lift - Lie flat on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you. Slowly raise your right arm 3-4 inches off the ground while simultaneously lifting your left leg 3-4 inches off the ground. Hold for two seconds and then lower. Repeat the motion with the left arm and right leg. Complete two sets of six to eight reps.
Plank and Reach - Assume a push-up position. But instead of arms straight supporting you, your elbows and forearms lie flat on the ground. Your elbows are directly below your shoulders and your hand should be about even with your head. This is a basic plank position. From here stretch your right arm diagonally from your shoulder (like you are making half of a “Y”). Hold that position for two seconds and return. Repeat the motion with your left arm. Complete two sets of six reps.
A strong core makes you more efficient and faster by stabilizing the pelvis so the entire leg can drive you forward. Also, as the abs and spinal muscles work together there will be an increase in endurance from wasting less energy with an imperfect stride. When this area of your abdomen and lower back slowly become stronger you will notice a gradual change in your running as your legs compensate less for stabilizing your body and can instead transfer energy to propel you forward. Some time spent working your core properly with some of the best abs exercises will quickly pay dividends in the form of some of your best running.