jon-erik kawamoto fitness coachGot your attention didn’t I?

If you’re like most runners on the internet, you probably were Googling:

-best core exercises for runners

-runner’s core exercises

-core stability training for runners

…or something along those lines.

If you’re like most in this regard as well, you’re probably looking for the most advanced, “coolest” core exercises to add to your routine.

Here are 3 advanced core exercises you can do to help strengthen your core so you can run faster and stronger.

But before we get to the good stuff, it’s important to have an understanding of how the core muscles work when running.

The function of a runner’s core is to prevent excessive movement when running.If you look at it like this, it might help your understanding: blood has to be pumped by your heart to your legs, which are highly metabolically active when running (duh!).  If you’re racing, it’s a fair assumption that you’re running your fastest to hopefully finish in the fastest time possible.  What if your upper body has unwanted movement – in your arms, shoulders and torso?  Well, the muscles creating these movements are also metabolically active.  It’s also fair to assume that your breathing muscles are working like crazy to get air into your lungs – the diaphragm and accessory breathing muscles.  They are also highly metabolically active.

So, if you have additional metabolic activity in muscles that shouldn’t be too active when running, you’re stealing blood from your legs and sending it else where.  This can have a negative influence to your race performance.  

I’m not telling you not to breathe, that would be stupid!  It has been shown in research that the breathing muscles require roughly 15% of the blood pumped from your heart during maximal exercise – so blood is going to feed your breathing muscles regardless.  However, you can control or at least try to improve your running efficiency so you can maximize how much blood can feed your legs.

Basically, reduce the excess movement and always strive to run with the most economical running gait possible.  This will strongly differentiate you from the person running beside you if you both have the same VO2-Max.

What does this have to do with your core?  Your core muscles reflexively stabilize your torso with each stride.  They also minimize excess torso and shoulder rotation – so train your core muscles to minimize movement, rather than create it.  For example, sit-ups create movement, whereas planks challenge you to keep neutral spine (normal arch in the lumbar spine).  Here are 3 ADVANCED CORE EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS that challenge you to keep neutral spine and not move.

Single Arm Pushup

 

This exercise is very challenging not only to the upper body to perform the movement, but to the trunk muscles to prevent and resist movement.  Spread your feet wide and place one hand in the middle of your chest.  Brace like hell, and lower yourself to the ground.  Stay tight and press yourself back up.

Go for 3 sets of 5 per arm.

Power Wheel Roll Out for distance

 

The Power Wheel is an amazing tool.  From a kneeling position, pack your shoulders, stick out your chest and brace your abs.  Roll forward reaching far above your head.  Resist the urge to excessively arch your back.  If you feel compression in your lumber spine, you’re not maintaining the correct spine position.

I like 3 sets of 12-20 roll outs depending on ability.  (I also like doing this exercise from the feet with really strong runners)

Side Plank with Band Row

 

Set up a band around a squat rack cage or a machine.  Set up in a PERFECT side plank and slowly row the band while squeezing your upper back muscles.  Don’t move and resist the force the band is placing on you to move.  Try to perform this movement so you complete 30 seconds per side.  Do 3 sets.

Give these exercises a go in your core training program and let me know how it goes.

Thanks for reading and RUN STRONG,

-JK

I had spent a fair bit of time in gyms in my teens and twenties but I turned away from the gym to focus on activities that I enjoyed more. What keeps me at JKC is that I do really enjoy it. I always feel that I’ve accomplished something when I leave at the end of my workout. The environment is really positive and focused on challenging yourself whatever your level of comfort and fitness. I’ve also seen results that I’m really happy with; having someone who really knows what they’re talking about to guide your workouts makes them way more effective and focused than just “going to the gym”.

Shortly after I started at JKC, I sustained a fairly major injury that took me off my feet for several months. When I started to get back to activity, it was very difficult. Jon and Thomas worked hard to tailor my workouts to my goals and what I could do. With their help, I’ve been steadily building back strength and function.

I am turning 67 next month and I started my journey with JKC in 2018. Seven years ago I experienced significant foot pain which had a negative impact on my day to day activities. I learned that issues in other parts of the body need to be addressed to achieve a positive result. My doctor (Dr. Jessica Wade) suggested, along with some other therapies, that I could  benefit from the conditioning JKC had to offer. I previously had not trained in any gym. I observed how many gyms operated and had a sense that JKC would be more my style: training in a small group setting, having such personal attention, and a program meeting my specific needs is fantastic! I love the atmosphere at the gym. Everyone is accepted and you feel supported and comfortable.

After my children were born, I was completely out of shape. I had been active before my first pregnancy in 2008. I saw a post on social media about a charity event that was hosted at the gym. It prompted me to check out the JKC website. I was immediately impressed by the professional content and decided to give it a try. The professionally crafted and uniquely tailored work outs, as well as the sense of accountability and commitment that they foster. I have not missed a workout since joining – contrary to other experiences I have had when purchasing gym memberships. The flexibility of booking and rescheduling workouts, made easy by an online app, also contributed to my success in meeting my fitness goals.

I enjoy every session, working out with Jon, Thomas and Craig, as well as the “JKC Community”. Anytime someone achieves a personal best, I enjoy the celebration and support everyone gives each other. For me, I fondly remember achieving personal bests on bench press, chin ups and the sled push, in particular.

trap bar deadlift

A few of my wonderful friends and colleagues recommended JKC. I was told by one colleague that “It’ll be the best thing you ever do for yourself” and she was right! To be honest, I didn’t have much experience in any gym setting. And NO prior weight training experience. It was always so overwhelming! But from the first day, nothing was intimidating about JKC. Each workout is set up just for me, and with my specific skills and goals in mind. There are no stupid questions, you learn as you go, and what I really love, I always feel included and important, regardless of my skills/experience.

I started at JKC in January of 2014 and I’m 67 years old. When I had my Initial Assessment, I knew – almost immediately – that Jon knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. I was overweight, out of shape, and in serious need of someone, like Jon, who could get me back on a fitness/conditioning routine that suited me, my age, my less than acceptable physical condition, my sometimes intermittent RA, and my need for a structured, consistent and yet flexible training and conditioning program that would work for me.

Fundamentally, if I made a choice at all with respect to JKC – it was to continue to come back each week. I have not been in a lot of gyms. To be honest, they used to intimidate me. What makes JKC different is their approach to each and every one of their clients. Jon and Thomas – and now Craig – tailor each training regime to the particular needs of each client. That ensures that the training regime will suit each client upon the start of training and changes as the client improves. It adjusts for any physical setbacks such as injuries and it adjusts for success. It is just that simple.

It is also the consistent encouragement that comes from Jon, Thomas and Craig. That voice that comes to you while you are in the middle of a particularly difficult set – rear-foot elevated split squats comes to mind immediately – that says “good job” or “keep it up” or “just a couple more reps.” To know, in that moment, that you are not alone and the trainer is paying attention to what you are doing. That is priceless for me.

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