5 exercises that will strengthen your core
The ideal core workout
Work on your core and glutes is the most basic but also the most important and effective exercises that you can do, offering the most return from any work you may do in the gym. You should feel like you can hold your form longer, you’ll feel more activated from working the right muscle groups and also fight off injuries. This week I’ve put together five simple exercises or routines that you can do to improve your performance.
This is a fairly popular piece of kit that every athlete should have and it’s becoming more of a staple in most gyms. It’s hard work, because your legs are suspended from the floor, which will fatigue you quite quickly. The best thing to do on this is a set of around three exercises. Start in the press up position with your legs suspended at hip height and perform knee tucks, single leg running and hip raises, where you bring your legs towards your chest. (I do 15 knee tucks, 30 runners and 10 hip raises). It won’t take long to really burn your core with this exercise. I also like the press-up and knee tuck combo. When you’re coming up from the press up position you bring both knees to your chest.
Glute work is important for running especially. If you’ve strengthened and activated this muscle group properly, then you should feel nice and powerful and upright when you’re running. Because of this I like to do a light set the night before a race. It’s complicated to teach the technique for a good glutes set through writing because it’s a very refined technique and you should get someone to teach you properly. However, one exercise I like is Swiss Ball holds. In a standing position put the Swiss Ball against your hip and push it into the wall using your knee. This pressure means you should feel it in your bum and it’s also very specific because you’re standing in the running position.
This is an exercise that everyone probably knows. Start in the front plank position for one minute and hold yourself up on your elbows and your toes, if you’re feeling strong every once in a while lift one leg off the floor bringing your glutes into the equation. Then roll onto one side for a minute on your left and your right. People probably try to avoid this one, but it is effective and you’ll definitely feel it the next day.
Medicine ball set
Medicine balls are perfect for making a lot of noise and therefore making you look stronger then you really are, so you’ll definitely be the king of the gym! I recommend a set of three throws where you launch the ball towards a wall catching it as it comes back to you. Start by standing side on to a wall a meter or so back and throw the ball as hard as you can with straight arms, going through your full range of movement. Then sit in the sit up position close to the wall, with the ball, bring it over your head touching the ground and as you come up launch the ball at the wall catching it before coming back down to repeat. Finally stand up and bring the ball above your head throwing it back down to the ground as hard as you can. All of these exercises should be done about eight to 10 times consecutively and altogether two to three times through. Oh, and the louder noise the better!
Swiss ball sets
There are many exercises you can do on a Swiss ball and it’s a great toy for working your core in particular. Like I said it’s effective to do a set of different exercises but always come back to the recovery position, which is kneeling on the ball with your hands stabilising you without touching the floor to get there. It’ll teach you balance and control but work your core at the same time. Perform similar exercises as if using the TRX like knee tucks, press ups and hip raises. But between each set, try to come back to kneeling on the ball, because this way even in your recovery you’re working hard!
Written by Will Clarke
Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion. He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.