CORE STRENGTH FOR RUNNERS: PART 2
Last week we provided an introduction to plank exercises because I believe that planks are one of the best ways to build your core strength and make you a better runner.
I admittedly had to be sold on the idea of planks over some of the other more traditional core exercises but now I use them almost exclusively to develop and maintain my own core strength and the strength of my runners. Some of the many benefits of plank exercises include:
- Supporting your lower back and hips while running and reducing your chances of injury
Improving your posture while running
Improving your running economy and efficiency
Improving your overall strength and ability to maintain your form in the latter stages of a run or a race
Improving mental focus especially under physical fatigue
Planks also target a number of different muscle groups simultaneously, they don’t strain your lower back (as crunches sometimes do) and they don’t take very much time. With planks (and one of the reasons I like them so much) you’re essentially getting a lot of “bang for your buck”.
I’d like to take this time to highlight some of the ways you can modify the traditional plank exercise and make it an even more effective part of your workout routine. If you're just getting started with planks, I suggest attempting the first one or two types of straight-arm planks and doing 10 reps per leg. Then as your strength improves, you can try the rest of the series.
STRAIGHT-ARM PLANK SERIES
This series of planks are a little easier to execute over forearm planks, and they offer a variety of ways to activate your core and supporting muscles.
Forward Plank with Leg Lift
Forward Plank with Alternating Toe Taps
Forward Plank with Knee-to-Elbow
Two-Point Forward Plank
Forward Plank Hip Dips
Side Plank with Leg Lift (or Star Plank if your arm is raised)
Side Plank Thread-The-Needle
Side Plank with Knee Tuck
Reverse Plank with Leg Raise
Reverse Plank with Alternating Toe Taps
FOREARM PLANK SERIES
This series of planks are a little bit tougher to execute because they recruit your muscles faster, but they share a lot of the same movements as the straight-arm planks. See if you can challenge yourself!
Forearm Plank with Leg Lift
Forearm Plank with Alternating Toe Taps
Forearm Plank with Hip Dips
Forearm Plank with Knee-to-Elbow
Forearm Side Plank with Leg Lift
Forearm Side Plank with Knee Tuck
Forearm Reverse Plank with Leg Lift
Forearm Reverse Plank with Toe Taps
Coach Mwangi is a USATF-Certified running coach and competitive runner. He is the former head coach at Rhode Runner and he has coached a wide range of athletes from milers to marathoners. He has has also written about a wide range of topics related to running training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Run Better. Run Smarter. Run For Life.