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Are you tired of doing hundreds of crunches? Do they hurt your back? Are they just boring and you’re sick of them? Do they even work?
You could do crunches until the cows come home, but the benefits are limited and it can be hard on your spine. As a runner, you’ve probably heard about the importance of core strength and how it can help your running (and give you a rockin’ midsection). But the core includes more than just the front of your belly! For the best benefits, you need a wrap-around workout to work the often-forgotten areas like the obliques, hips and lower back.
Lucky for you, we’ve got just what you need—an all-around routine with no crunches (or equipment) necessary! These six exercises will help you tighten and tone your way to a stronger core—and better running!
Remember to keep the abs engaged throughout for maximum results and calorie burn.
Perform 10-12 repetitions of each exercise (on both sides for the double-sided ones). Repeat the set for 2-3 rounds total.
Stand with feet hip width apart and hands behind your head. Tighten the abs as you lift one leg up, bending at the knee, while twisting your torso to bring the opposite elbow and knee as close as possible. Return to starting position, then lower into a standard squat. Come back up to standing. Repeat on opposite side.
Standing Leg Lift
Stand up straight with arms lifted above head. Engage core to bring one leg up fairly straight, bending at the knee as needed, until it is about parallel to the ground. At the same time, bring hands down to touch shin. Be careful not to lean back. Lower leg and raise hands to starting position. Repeat with opposite leg.
Get into a plank position. Exhale and contract the abs to raise butt and hips up as far as possible. Hold briefly at the top and then lower to starting position.
Side Plank Squeeze
Start in plank position. Rotate body to come into a side plank with one hand raised above you and top foot behind you (or stacked on top of other foot for increased difficulty). Squeeze your side abs (obliques) to elevate hip and hold briefly. Return to basic plank and repeat side plank squeeze on other side.
Stand with your feet spread more than hip width apart and your arms straight out to the side. Keeping core tight and back flat throughout, hinge at the hips to lower torso and bend knees slightly as you twist to touch one hand toward opposite toes while the other hand reaches behind you. Then focus on engaging the lower back to raise body back up. Repeat on opposite side. Add light weights in hands to intensify if desired.
Kneeling Leg Lift
Get down on hands and knees with hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Extend one leg straight back with toe on ground. Raise leg upward, leading with your heel and focusing on engaging the lower back to lift. Try to keep the hips fairly square and not lean to the other side. Lower leg back down until toe just barely touches ground. Repeat to perform all reps on one side and then switch to opposite side. Add ankle weights to intensify if desired.