Every athlete knows that core strengthening is an important part of becoming a stronger and faster athlete. However, unless you are a professional runner, making time for core exercises can be difficult. There are numerous body hacks that a person can incorporate throughout the day in order to give core work the attention it deserves.
Commit to 5 Minutes Per Day
You can do anything for five minutes every day, right? Instead of making grand promises to yourself (such as saying you will do a 30 minute core routine 4 times a week), start small. Set aside five minutes, such as first thing in the morning or right before bed, to do a few quick exercises. You will be amazed how this small time investment pays off.
Work Core into your Everyday Routine
If struggling to find spare time during your day to do core, look for times during the day when you can sneak in a few core exercises. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator and focus on engaging your glute and abdominal muscles.
While doing laundry use the detergent bottle to do a few “Around the World” cycles by holding the bottle straight above your head (as if your arms were the hands of a clock and they were positioned at 12 o’clock) and rotate them slowly towards 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock, then reverse the rotation. Be creative and enjoy multitasking otherwise mundane chores.
Run 5-10 minutes Less
Core strength is so important that sacrificing 5 – 10 minutes of your run in order to squeeze in extra strengthening is a good idea if finding time to do core is tough. Finish your run early and complete a series of planks, such as side planks, front plank, hip bridge, reverse plank, and traditional plank. Alternatively, plan your run near a park or fitness trail and use those 5 – 10 fewer minutes of running to complete the suggested exercises at each station.
Core in Disguise: Form Drills
There are a number of ways to multitask core, including introducing form drills to your routine. These functional exercises such as A-Skip, B-Skip, C-Skip, high knees, and butt kicks not only improve your running efficiency, but they also work on strengthening the exact muscles you use while running
Core in Disguise: Yoga
A second way to disguise core workouts is by doing a different type of workout that you already enjoy, such as yoga. Vinyasa and Power yoga classes offer many benefits for the core, especially during balance positions.
Core in Disguise: Being a Parent
Moms and dad of infants and toddlers likely already receive a bit of a core workout when they care for their children. Incorporating your 20 – 30 lb child into a core session could even give the added bonus of being entertaining for the kid. For instance, do crunches while holding your baby above your head, or do “Around the World” as mentioned above with a toddler instead of a bottle of laundry detergent.
Not comfortable with using your child as an exercise aid? Get creative when taking your child to a park to play and use playground equipment to sneak in pull ups. Or, make a game out of letting your kid ride on your back while you do donkey ticks or pushups.
High intensity interval training is especially popular among athletes who feel they have little time to spare but are seeking results. Tabatas routines, which were named after the Japanese sports scientist who developed the technique, involve doing only one exercise for four minutes.
The catch is that those four minutes are performed in intervals of 20 seconds at 100% effort and 10 seconds of rest. Tabatas can be done with any type of exercise, including core exercises such as pushups, planks, crunches, etc.
Practice Better Posture
Many people have poor posture because they lack strength in the proper core muscles that are required for sitting up straight. Sneak in a core routine by dedicating ten minutes total throughout your day to being more mindful about good posture and engaging the proper muscles.
Enroll in an Exercise Class
Look at the exercise classes that are offered at your local YMCA. Many are dedicated towards core strengthening and are available for any experience level. These classes are convenient as no multi-class commitment needs to be made in advance, and with your membership you are able an unlimited number of classes that fit your schedule.
Challenge a Partner
Even the most well-intentioned person can struggle to find the motivation to do core exercises on his or her own. If this is the case for you, enlist the help of a friend, family member, or co-worker. Challenge one another to reach your goals or even attend classes together. Check in on each other weekly and treat yourselves, such as by grabbing coffee or a drink together, when you meet your goals.
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