Core Training with an Exercise Ball

Lots of runners (walkers and hikers) think they just need to do cardio training and maybe a few leg exercises to be fit to finish. They’d be wrong. Studies show that upper body strength makes stronger runners, but only if they can translate that strength efficiently to their working legs. This happens through the torso or trunk. Fitness professionals call that your core. Without core strength, not only do the legs do all the work but they have to stabilize the upper body as it teeters.

Let’s think about that. First, picture the difference between carrying an alert toddler with arms wrapped around your neck. Then picture hoisting a squirming toddler or one who is sound asleep and falls completely lax. We used to call that “sack of potatoes.” You’d rather do the alert, not the sack, right? Don’t your legs have enough to do running your mileage without compensating for your uncooperative upper body at the same time?

Here are some core strengthening exercises demonstrated using a 65cm exercise ball.

Starting position. A smile is essential.

Abdominal curl up on the ball. Be sure neck stays relaxed and head back into hands.

The reverse curl begins with feet squeezing middle of the ball on each side.

Keeping abs tight and back pressed against the ground, legs squeeze and lift the ball.

Complete the exercise by passing the ball to your hands and raising it above your head. Remember to keep belly button pressed to the spine.

Begin plank or push up with tight abs and straight elbows.

Lower yourself down in push up position. Slide the ball toward your feet to make the exercise tougher.

With toes touching for balance, gently lift upper body in one unit to strengthen back extensor muscles. Lift slowly. Do NOT bounce or accelerate into arch of back.

For the really advanced: Kristin simulates swimming, with arm up opposed by opposite leg. Then alternates. Great core work and great for stability. Takes some practice!

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