Abdominal Exercises for Runners

Abdominal Exercises for Runners

Are abdominal exercises important for runners, what are the most suitable exercises?

Undoubtedly, proper postural hygiene is essential for an efficient biomechanical running pattern, which highlights the need for work focused on improving the tone of your stabilising muscles in the core.

Or put another way, the need to work on the intrinsic muscles of your CORE or MID ZONE.

Without going into too much detail, we should know that the Core or Middle Zone is made up of a group of muscles and tissues that must work synergistically to function correctly, together with a good breathing pattern.

Abdominal exercises

These core muscles include: the quadratus lumborum, oblique abdominis, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, dorsal musculature, gluteus and rectus abdominis.

As such, within a core training programme, it’s also important to include specific exercises to train the rectus abdominis. What we know as the abs (although there is much more to it than just the rectus abdominis or “six pack”).

How do you train your abs?

The best thing to do is perform a balanced workout between specific exercises of the rectus abdominis and obliques (the more superficial muscles of the abdomen), as well as exercises of the posterior chain to compensate for the tension of the anterior wall.

For this, abdominal breathing and pelvic floor muscle activation must be carried out together, avoiding pushing the abdomen upwards in the contraction phase during core flexion exercises.

How do you train your abs?

Ideally, you work the abdomen not only in flexion but also in extension and isometric contraction, as the abdomen actually extends the spine and maintains that upright posture.

On the other hand, it’s good, especially for runners, for the abdominal training to be carried out with anti-rotation exercises in which more core muscles are involved instead of analytical exercises of the abdomen, such as the classic “crunches”.

It’s really important to work them while keeping a good respiratory pattern and management of intra-abdominal pressures to avoid, in the long term, an atrophy of the abdomen, such as a diastasis of the abdominis rectus and the health problems associated with this, as detailed in this article.

Benefits for runners

Apart from the aesthetic objective, we should focus on the functional: a strong abdominal area implies that our vital organs will be more protected.

It also acts as a stabiliser for the spine.

  • Another compelling reason is that the abdominal muscles are involved in breathing.

That’s why abdomen work shouldn’t be treated as something isolated, but on the contrary; a lot of attention should be paid to each exercise as well as performing them.

  • As I’ve indicated above, a strong and stable mid-zone will help keep the running posture more upright.

As a result, the biomechanics of the race is better than with a weak musculature, which would cause an inefficient gait, tilting of the pelvis, and discomfort in the limbo-sacral area.

For this reason, training the core, including abdominal movements and exercises, is necessary to complement specific gym work for runners.

What exercises to do if you run

Ideally, more complex exercises involving anti-rotation movements, joint work of the abdomen and middle glute, obliques…

Exercises such as the “pallof press” and the “windmill” are a good choice for mid-zone work involving not only the abs but also the core intrinsic muscles.

Apart from that, we can include other more analytical abdomen in the gym sessions, such as the following:

Crunches

Flexing the core from a lying position, face up.

It is essential you focus on abdomen contraction and avoid lifting the core from the neck and upper back muscles.

Planks

The abdominal isometric plate is one of the exercises in which we involve not only the rectus abdominis, but also the glutes, arms, quadriceps and transverse.

Abdominal plank

The abdomen is worked in isometric contraction.

It is not advisable to hold the position for more than 20 seconds. You should do several sets with an optimal rest period of another 20.

Leg lifts

Suspended on a bar, perform leg raises and lowering.

This exercise, in which the abdomen works in extension, is complicated, and you need to have a good tone and control of the abdomen.

It causes too much tension in the hip flexors, so to avoid further tension (the hip flexors constantly assist when running) it can be done with one leg supported while raising the other.

I explain in detail how to correctly perform leg lifts here.

Lunges

Backwards or forwards lung exercises are great joint work exercises for stabilising the core, hip and middle area.

Lunges for runners

This exercise is great for runners because of the joint work of the lower body muscles together with that of the core, simulating a movement typical of running.

Here are a series of ab exercises that you can put it into practice.

5 exercises to work the abdomen:

How often should you work your abs?

Strength training with free weights requires a strong stabilisation of the spine, and abdomen work is present in all movements in strength exercises.

More analytically and specifically speaking, a training program for runners should include at least 2 short Core-Abdomen training sessions to complete the specific strength training programme and prevent injuries typical of overloading or misuse of the core.

Recommendations

For good abdomen workout, as I have indicated, breathing patterns are key, meaning each phase of the exercise movement should be worked together with the phase of the breathing cycle.

  • Maximum exercise effort phase: (concentric phase at in the crunch, for example): EXHALE, bringing the abdomen inwards and activating the pelvic floor musculature at the same time.
  • Eccentric phase: INHALE.
In the case of pregnant women or people who suffer from abdominal diastasis problems, a prior assessment by a specialised physiotherapist is advisable, and to perform other types of exercises that are not contraindicated or that worsen the distension of the rectus abdominis in each case.

Related Entries

  • All about Hydration for Runners in the following Post.
  • Strength Training Routine for Runners: go now.
  • We explain how to perform Abdominal Hypopressives.
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About Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio
Sport runs in the blood of Isabel, which she has proven since she was very little up until now. She wants to share that passion with all those who are passionate about sports.
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