The benefits of ab workouts are many, but runners in particular will see that these exercises help them run farther and stronger than ever before. If you persist with your ab-strengthening workouts you can expect to see real improvements in your endurance and speed, and if you've been experiencing back or neck aches, ab conditioning may help reduce pain.
Strong abdominal muscles help stabilize your pelvis and spine as you run. Without adequate ab strength, during a run, your body automatically recruits other muscles to do this work. That can have a domino effect on other muscle systems, causing aches, pains or outright serious injuries.
Lower back pain and hamstring injuries are particularly common in runners with insufficient ab strength. Other common ailments include sciatica pain, piriformis syndrome and patella syndrome. These are the types of injuries that can leave runners laid low for months at a time.
In addition to helping you ward off injuries and aches, stronger abs improve your alignment, posture and running form. What's more, you can maintain good running form for longer distances before you begin to tire. Better form also means less wasted energy, which in turn means you don't wear out as fast.
In other words, fit abs mean better efficiency. A strong core results in easier transfer of energy from your legs through to your upper body, meaning there's less wasted energy as your legs propel you forward.
One of the great aspects of ab workouts is that it doesn't take long to feel and see results. Human abdominal muscles simply respond quickly to exercise, so after only two to four weeks of regular workouts you'll notice that your core muscles feel a lot different.
Another thing to consider is that once you have these muscles in good condition, it doesn't take much to keep them in shape. Two workouts per week should help you maintain them.
Whether you're a new runner or an experienced racer looking for a new edge, you'll find that ab workouts are an extremely effective way to increase efficiency and endurance with a minimal investment. Plan your goals before you begin training, track your improvements and listen to your body to make sure you're not aggravating old injuries or creating new problems. With careful training you'll be faster and fitter than ever.
For more on running and other forms of exercise, visit the links below.
- How a Marathon Works
- How Exercise Works
- How Interval Training Works
- How Leg Workouts for Runners Work
- How Core Strength Training for Runners Works
- How to Avoid Overtraining in Running
- Can I run when I have a cold?
- Does running reduce stress?
- Does running fight depression?
- How many calories does running burn?
- Adams, Caitlin E. and McCall, Pete. "Become a Stronger, Leaner Faster Runner with Core Conditioning." Washington Running Report. March/April 2005. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.runwashington.com/archive0209/features/traincore05.html
- Amercian Running Association. "Absolutely Effective Abdominal Exercises." Running & FitNews. Volume 20, Number 6. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.active.com/fitness/Articles/ABSolutely_Effective_Abdominal_Exercises.htm
- DistanceCoach.com. "Core Conditioning for Runners." (Aug. 5, 2010)http://pfitzinger.com/cc.shtml
- Fitzgerald, Matt. "The Abs Plan." Runner's World. August 2004. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.runnersworld.com/article/1,7124,s6-238-263-266-9261-0,00.html
- Galloway, Jeff. "Posture Perfect." InternetFitness.com. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.internetfitness.com/articles/running_posture2.htm
- Hanc, John. "How to Get Ripped Abs." Runner's World. Jan. 10, 2008. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://newrunner.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267--12417-0,00.html
- Hanc, John. "The Ultimate Ab Workout for Runners." Runner's World. Jan. 10, 2008. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-263-266-12415-0,00.html
- Maguire, Justin. "Hard Core -- Exercises to Strengthen Your Abs for Better Performance." BeginnerTriathelete.com. May 3, 2005. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=486
- McKinley, Dominic and Mullins, Joe. "Why is the Core Important to Runners?" Guildford Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center. 2010. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.guilfordortho.com/running_core.htm
- Wadyka, Sally. "The Runner's Six Pack." Runner's World. Jan. 10, 2007. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-263-266-11400-0,00.html