Discussion: Core Exercises
in: Orienteering; Training & Technique;
For those of you who do "core" or "core strength" exercises, what specifically do you do? I know I need to work on my core, but the exercises I know (e.g., situps) I dislike enough that I next-to-never do them. I'm hoping someone out there has some cool -- or at least tolerable -- exercises that I'm willing and able to do.
Rhonda has been leading pilates classes that are all core-strengthening. The exercises are somewhat reminiscent of situps, but there is a fair amount of variety, so it's a bit more tolerable. Get a book or, better, a DVD. Maybe we can get Rhonda to do a yoga or pilates class or two out in Colorado this summer.
There must be something to it. I've had back problems for about 9 years, and I've been doing much better since I've been doing yoga and pilates classes.
I'm starting to be all about the yoga. It's a workout (I'm usually dripping with sweat) even though it's slow moving, non-repetitive, and you never think that you're actually exercising. I know it's helping things like balance and flexibility, but I think the strength benefits will take longer as I get better and can manage more difficult poses. Who knows, maybe it's already working.
As a direct replacement for situps or crunches, I tend to use the captain's chair. It's effective, and you don't have to do 8,323,349 reps to build strength. Downside is that I have to go to the gym to do it.
Highly recommend the NYC Ballet Workout #2 CD. It's a series of drills starting with warmups, then various core stuff like crunches of all kinds, some interesting balance drills (think propioceptive or something like that). It's done to lovely music with the ballet dancers showing how, at a nice reasonable pace.
Which reminds me - we haven't done them for a while. Better get back to it.
I will second the NYC Ballet workout; and also recommend some pilates work. When I do core workouts, it is not only the stomach and such areas but the back as well, which is very important...everything has to be balanced. As challenging as sit ups are, I find back raises (lying flat on your stomach, putting your arms out in front of you and then using your stomach and back muscles to raise your upper body off the floor and then back down in a controlled way) even more challenging. Pilates has something called the '100' which will get your abs burning, as well as some other exercises to target the sides, etc. Winsor Pilates is actually not a bad one, but there are tons out there. Just make sure you get something beyond a beginners (like power pilates or yoga or strength building), though I have always found that classes at the gym give the best workout.
Agreeing that core exercises are unpleasant, I pretty much stick to getting them done as efficiently as possible. Though I definitely prefer to minimise the pain with exercises that involve more or less continuous motion rather than anything that requires holding a contracted position for any length of time, i.e. I'll do some crunches and some crunches with a twist in any session but I'll do a great deal more of the bicycle.
Best and worst abdominal exercises
. My favorite is the bicycle. If I had less flab, the results might even be visible.
I would agree that these types of things probably help you look good, but I am yet to be convinced that they actually do anything to help your sports performance (kind of like how the research on stretching usually says that it really doesn't do anything). As anecdotal evidence, I can recall some of my past ski training experiences. One group that I trained with a couple of years ago did 15-20 min of intense core exercises after all of our training session (ie 4-5 x per week). Eventually, things got competitive. I recall that I was one of the best "core exercisers" in the whole group (ie I could do a lot of situps, hold all the positions for the longest time, etc), but an average skier. One of the worst "core exercisers" recently became the first Canadian male to qualify for the heats in the sprint races at the world nordic ski championships. Maybe he's gotten better at core strength in recent years, but I would think that it would be a minor factor (at best) in determining this success.
Just run lots of hill repeats and runs through the boulder fields - that will do the magic for you O results.
I already do yoga, though I only do it once a week in a class, not self-motivated enough to do it on my own most of the time. My yoga place has pilates too; I have thought about adding that but so far I'm too cheap with both my time & money. It would be great if Rhonda could do a little seminar in Colorado!
Several other good suggestions; thanks & keep them coming. Can't really do hill repeats now because just about everything south of my hips hurts. :-(
For what it's worth, I don't expect core exercises will make me a better runner/orienteer. I think it will improve my posture & overall health. And perhaps prevent back injuries.
If it wasn't for the fact that I am prone to back injuries, I would probably never do core exercises. I get plenty of core strength from all the other stuff I do. I should lift more, but that's different.
I have had chronic back trouble since I was in high school. When I am good about doing abdominal exercises, I'm fine. When I'm not, I'm not. It takes a surprisingly small amount of effort to stave off disaster. My routine is about 5 minutes right before bed. If I skip it for more than a couple days, I notice. If I don't skip, I can pretty much do anything else with impunity.
My physical therapist gave me a big blue rubber band to train ankle strength with. I put it around the leg of a table/desk and sit down and do three different exercises.
I started using the Runners World exercises from the Feb 05 issue. Years ago (30?), Dee & I took a weight training class doing the usual 3 sets per equipment - using mostly Universal equipment and some free weights. The pre-Feb workouts were a watered down version (maybe 3 sets - 15-12-10 reps on vertical bench presses, and only one set of everything else with 20 reps - low and lots of reps).
Somehow the "Build a Better Body" article hit home - workout under 30 min (I averaged more like 20 min doing only 2 sets - not 3). 9 of the 10 exercises mentioned the working on the core. And no situps were included. The first workout - I sweated like a hog - never put that much effort in the weight room. No dawdling - move, move, move. Usually include a 10-20 min jog as a warmup.
It's best to get a copy of the Feb 05 RW issue to see the diagrams of each exercise. The stability ball was new to me and several of the exercises worked on several muscle groups (over the isolated motions with the Lifetime Fitness equipment).
I think the arm strength helped me through a recent hilly 12K road race I wasn't really prepared for.
Now I'm leaving this workout for a community calisthenics workout
(300+ at 6 am doing jumping jacks and lots of - - - situps).
Community calisthenics sounds like my idea of hell...
One core exercise that many of the Williams sports teams do is typically called 'tv watchers'... you balance on your toes and forearms, keeping the rest of your body parallel to the ground and hold it for 30second to a minute... so painful.
Another thing that we sometimes did was dynamic stretching (stretching with some movement... like walk a step, then hug your knee to your chest, another step, other leg, for the width of a field-- also karyoke, etc-- a mix of stretching, warming up, and working on balance) which seemed to be more effective than just stretching in terms of getting us warmed up and not getting injured.
Hi Suzanne: Rhonda calls that the forearm plank. She has her morning class up to 3:30 with it. Really unpleasant, but seems to do some good.
In NZ we call it the 'killer hold'. For good reason...
also called the "table". i taught some core strenght exercise classes this year, and you just need to remember to work all the possible ranges of motion.
trunk flexion--situps and crunches are different, in situps you lift your lower back off the ground, using your hip-flexors in addition to your abs; crunches just use abs, you only lift your shoulders off the ground
back extension: laying on your stomach and lifting your upper body off the ground (lift your legs up at the same time for added fun, looks like superman); or standing up, knees slightly bent, bend over at the waist and straighten back up (this isn't reccomended if you think you'll through your back out)
side flexion: standing up, hold a weight/water bottle/book in one hand and bend towards that side, come back up, continue on that side, switch weight to other side and repeat (this won't do anything for your six-pack or love handles, but does wonders for posture)
trunk rotation: bicycle works this, or seated on the ground, lift your legs off the ground and rotate side to side, touching the ground on each side of your body; you can also in the situp position, come up halfway, clasp your hands in your chest touch each elbow on the ground on each side
to keep from doing a lot of sets, do these exercises with weights, the heavier the weights, the less reps/sets you have to do; also, don't rush through them, the slower you do the exercises and hold difficult positions, the less counting you'll have to do
the ab-roller is totally awesome, try it
This discussion thread is closed.