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When it comes to improving your running form, crunches and sit-ups will do very little. They’re detrimental to a runner’s spine and not at all effective at improving the true function of a runner’s core. But many people still ask how many sit-ups they need to do to run a faster 10K. The sit-up movement results in high spinal loads and reproduces an injury mechanism that could result in a herniated disc. The true function of a runner’s core is not to flex the spine, so why would you train it that way?

Visualize the core as a group of muscles surrounding the torso, providing structural integrity to the lumbar spine and pelvic girdle. When running, the core provides dynamic postural control to minimize excessive movement in the torso and pelvis while the hips and legs propel the body forward. The group of muscles also has to resist and control the rotational torque that the legs and hips apply to the upper body. Core-stability training can improve this function and make runners more efficient.

The gluteals also play an important role in the running stride. For example, the gluteus medius functions to maintain pelvic stability when standing on one leg. A lack of gluteus medius strength allows the pelvis to drop, reducing stride efficiency and running speed. Weakness in the gluteus maximus and overdeveloped hamstrings can also pose problems for runners. This muscle imbalance can lead to hip issues or hamstring strains, which would put a halt to your training.

Everyone knows planks and side planks but few have seen their progressions. Add these advanced core stability and gluteal strengthening exercises throughout your training week to strengthen your abs and to keep you injury free.

Key training points to remember:

 
Maintain neutral spine by pretending to brace for a punch. This light contraction will ensure the correct posture is maintained. Don’t hold your breath during the exercises – take smaller more frequent breaths. Keep your chest out and pull your shoulders toward your hips as you maintain the normal curve in your thoracic spine.

For the exercises, read the rest of the article on Canadian Running HERE.

photo credit: kaneda99 via photopin cc

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.

I had signed up for other gyms in the past and never went or rarely went. Something always got in the way or I was just too tired and lacked motivation to go. This way I’ve made a commitment to Jon or Thomas and I try very hard to keep my sessions once I’ve booked in. JKC is different from other gyms that I’ve tried in the past because no one is there to be “seen”. We are all there to get a good workout in and go on with our lives. And it’s a small gym so you get to know everyone and it’s like a big family. When I joined JKC, I couldn’t do a chin up with an elastic band, but I’ve slowly worked up to 10 free hanging chin ups. That was big because I hate chin ups.

I started strength training at JKC in the Spring of 2021. I am in my 60’s but happy to say I feel much younger since joining this gym. I joined JKC upon the advice of a doctor. I went through some difficult medical issues last year, that’s when one of my doctors recommended strength training at JKC. I have been physically active most of my adult life but mainly running and completed many road races as I am a distance runner. Strength training has definitely benefited me by increasing my stamina and energy. It sure has enhanced my recovery over the past year. I have the added benefit of becoming a stronger runner as well.

My original reason for joining JKC was to get some sage advice to help with my running. I had been looking for awhile, came across Jon, met for an assessment, and was quite happy with how that all went. Apart from the running specific strengthening and conditioning approaches, JKC is different from other gyms as I am a fan of the small group sessions where everyone has their own goals and individualized programs. As well, the run coaching is super. All the coaches go the extra mile to make sure you get the best out each training session. They are fantastic motivators! My favourite memory is deadlifting 330lbs. Making a lot of great friends and meeting some really cool people is pretty high up on that list, too.

I’ve always struggled with both my weight and anxiety throughout my life. As a writer you live a pretty sedentary lifestyle filled with both realistic and unrealistic deadlines, so I needed something to get me off my butt and to get me moving. JK has been a godsend during this past year and a half in particular. The pandemic has been tough, but workouts with both Thomas and Jon have really helped reduce the stress and strain of a global pandemic, and added an anchor of normalcy back into my life — which has been worth its weight in gold.

JKC has created an incredibly inclusive environment that’s filled with all kinds of supportive folks from all kinds of different backgrounds. For folks like myself, being surrounded by people with such athletic ability can be intimidating in most gyms. It can actually be a deterrent, and it sometimes has been for me. But, at JKC it’s far from that — it’s inspirational. Everyone supports one another. Which is something that’s not easily found in this day and age, inside of a gym or out. Not to sound like a total cheeseball here, but it really feels like a family.

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