The best core workout is the one you actually do, which makes this no-equipment, 15-minute abs workout a necessary addition to your training arsenal. Designed by Raj Hathiramani, certified running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, the five-move circuit hits every part of your midsection, from your rectus abdominis to your obliques and posterior chain.
'A strong core provides the foundation for the rest of your body to work together and use less energy when you run,' Hathiramani tells Runner’s World. 'Core strength enables you to maintain good running form, which is especially important toward the end of long runs or races when your form starts to break down.'
A stable core is also your first line of defence against problematic muscle compensations.
'A weaker core puts you at higher risk for injuries by increasing the strain on other parts of your body such as your lower back, hips and knees,' Hathiramani says. 'If you do this 15-minute abs workout once or, ideally, twice a week, you will notice less wobbling and more efficiency when you run.'
The circuit kicks off with the bear crawl, an agility drill that will fire up your upper body as well as your core, then moves through two challenging plank variations before transitioning to alternating leg lowers, which target the rectus abdominis. You’ll finish with heel taps to strengthen the obliques.
How to do it: Perform each exercise below for 45 seconds, resting for 15 seconds between exercises. Repeat the full circuit a total of 3 times.
Each move is demonstrated by Hathiramani in the video above so you can master the proper form. An exercise mat is recommended.
Start on your hands and knees. Keeping your back flat, use your core to lift your knees off the ground a few inches. Step right hand and left foot forward. Then step left hand and right foot forward, making sure to look straight ahead the entire time. Reverse the movement to crawl backward two steps. Continue to alternate, crawling forward and backward.
Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core engaged so body forms a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Engage your glutes and thighs to keep your legs straight. Keeping your elbow straight, lift your right arm directly in front of you while simultaneously lifting your left leg to hip height. Hold, then return to a high plank position. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue to alternate.
Forearm Plank With Hip Dip
Start facedown, then prop yourself up with elbows under shoulders, forearms on the ground, hands in fists. Lift hips off the mat, keeping back straight and abs tight, so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core as you rotate your hips to the right and tap your right hip on the ground. Return to center, rotate hips to the left, then tap left hip on the ground. Continue to alternate.
Alternating Leg Lower
Lie faceup, legs extended toward ceiling, lower back pressed into the floor, hands gently resting on knees. Lower right leg until it’s a couple of inches off the ground, then lift it back up. Repeat on the left leg. Continue to alternate.
Lie faceup with knees bent and heels on the floor, arms down at your sides. Engage your core to lift your head, shoulders, and upper back off the ground. Bending at the waist, reach your right fingertips toward your right heel. Then, reach your left fingertips toward your left heel. Continue to alternate.
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