1/31/14

Challenge your core - runners and triathletes

Running is  a great stress reliever but it also puts a lot of stress on the body. Without a strong core, your gait is likely to be negatively affected. Cycling is a great non-weight bearing sport but sitting on a bike and pedaling doesn't translate to a strong core. If you love to swim,bike, run to be faster, you also have to train to be stronger.

Get stronger before you go faster before you go longer.

Every time you land your foot on the ground while running or when you take a pedal stroke, you are relying on your pelvis, abdominal muscles, hips and lower back to work properly as you move your body in a forward motion. 

If you are currently training for an event and find yourself neglecting core/hip/glute strength work in your cardio training plan, it's time to carve out 10-20 minutes, a few times per week, to build a strong core. 

Sure, training swimming, biking and running may make you a faster triathlete but putting in the miles won't not necessarily give you a stronger core. And a weak core not only affects posture when you aren't training/working out but can also increase risk for injury when you get tired during an intense or long workout due to a change in form without proper core strength. 

Here's an example to show the importance of core strength (or perhaps to show how athletes can be a bit stubborn at times when it comes to the importance of training smart)

When your core is weak and form suffers, you get tight. And tight hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors make it hard to keep good form at the next workout. Because you are dedicated to your training routine and don't want to disappoint your coach, yourself or training buddies, you continue to put in the work with a tight body. As you know from a basic anatomy class, muscles that can not move through their full range of motion are not capable of producing optimal power or speed.
Eventually, overtime, those tight muscles tug at your pelvis and spine and then the entire kinetic chain gets thrown off. You begin to feel nagging aches and pains in your shoulder, lower back and even your feet and calves.
You now you notice that your not able to hit your intervals/zones like you did a few days/weeks ago and as your gait or pedaling or swim stroke becomes sloppy, you convince yourself that you just need to push harder. So, as a dedicated, hard working athlete, you refuse to throw in the towel so you continue to push on until it's too late.
 Now your body is completely out-of-whack and you aren't quite sure where to start to get yourself healthy again. 
And the first thing you tell yourself when you are booking a doc or PT apt "I should have stretched and strength trained more."

I hear it all the time from injured athletes "As soon as I get better, I will strength train more often and stretch more after workouts." 

Even though you know that core/hip/glute work will reduce the chance of injuries and will improve stability, balance, power and speed, cardio training typically takes precedence when athletes are training and strength training and stretching are the first two things to get pushed aside. 

Having a strong core doesn't mean you need to see a 6-pack but instead you should be able to do functional, isolated strength work (ex. planks) to improve abdominal and surrounding muscles to assist in your cardio training.

Here are a few of our favorite Trimarni core exercises if you are looking for an abdominal challenge.
Have fun getting stronger!

If you have any blood pressure or blood sugar issues or injuries, I do not recommend these exercises. Start slow and embrace the challenge of getting a stronger core over time.
 Always consult with your physician before trying a new or different exercise routine. 

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For a basic move, hold a straight arm plank with medicine ball under feet to start.
Hold 3 x 30-60 seconds w/ rest as needed. Keep core tight and don't forget to breath. 

When you feel stronger with that move, perform a push-up with medicine ball under feet.
3 x  20-30 seconds w/ rest as needed. 


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Push-up with two medicine balls under feet or basic plank. 
Same reps as above. 


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Modified mountain climbers with medicine balls under feet.
Perform 3 x 20-40 sec mountain climbers w/ rest as needed


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More advanced:
Push-ups with medicine ball under feet and medicine ball under one hand (then switch hands). You must have healthy shoulders/upper back to perform this exercise. 
3 x 10-20 sec push-ups on one hand, then switch. Then  rest as needed.


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Trying out for the circus (most advanced)
Push-ups with medicine balls under feet and medicine balls under hands. 
3 x 10-20 sec push-ups then rest as needed. 


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Decline bench crunch with medicine ball toss (choose a light weight ball to start).
You should be able to do 10 good-form crunches at a decline before trying this exercise. 
3 x 10-20 throws/crunches w/ rest as needed