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The importance of Core Strength

 

Core strength is essential to the success of all endurance athletes. It is a commonly overlooked part of training that may be the most important part of your program. Your core consists of the largest group of muscles within your body. If the muscles within your core become weak while racing or training, your legs will be soon to follow.

 

To understand how important core strength is, stand, lift one knee waist high to mimic a run stride or a pedal stroke, and feel how the abdominal muscles need to be engaged. If you are a cyclist or a runner, you are completing this action 80-100 times a minute, over many hours, engaging your core on every stride or pedal stroke between both legs. Your core is continuously worked as an endurance athlete without a second of rest, especially for off road athletes.

 

Core strength refers to all of the muscles located, front and back of the body, between your hips and your arm pits. Gaining strength within these muscles is very important but it is also important to keep in mind the type of strength you want to gain. If you are an endurance athlete, you need to keep endurance in mind while working core strength. The more aerobic gains you can make within your core group of muscles, the harder and longer you can work before becoming fatigued. When working core strength for endurance, it is more important to focus on many reps or hold poses for longer periods of time. If you were to work your core for a power and speed, for example, you would need to incorporate more focus on fewer repetitions with more explosive movements.

 

For endurance athletes, core strength can be worked easily and can be done in any setting, with or without weights. Yoga and Pilates are two great examples of core strength workouts that can be done anywhere. If you are not into yoga or Pilates, you can work core strength with a few simple exercises.

 

Holding an upper push up position for one to two minute durations or longer, is one simple way to incorporate many core muscles. Holding upper push up position targets the muscles of the lower and upper back. You can easily move from the upper push up position to a side arm balance by reaching one arm in the air and stacking the feet to one side, supporting yourself with the opposite arm. A side arm balance is a great way to work your oblique muscles or the muscles located within the side of your body, under your armpit. Simple leg lifts are a great way to work your abdominal region and can be done with bent or straight legs. You can lay your back flat on the floor while lifting legs in the air, or balance on your sit bones while holding your legs in the air for as long as you can. Both lying on the floor and balancing on your sit bones will work your abdominal region in a slightly different way. Simply working with these three poses will help you build more core strength over time. Remember to keep focused on the endurance mindset and challenge yourself to work more repetitions or longer durations to gain more core endurance.

 

Strength work helps maintain a balanced system, which helps prevent injury. But core strength also plays a key role in helping improve sports specific performance. A weaker core will fatigue faster, providing less opportunity to work other parts of the body. For a cyclist or a runner, a weak core will limit your gains over time. With a stronger core, you will fatigue less, providing the opportunity to work your sports specific parts of the body, such as the legs, for a longer period of time.

 

Mike Schultz CSCS

Highland Training LLC

 

Phone: 814.289.6620 | Email: schultz@highlandtraining.net