Endurance sporting events in the United States are growing faster and faster these days. Triathlon, endurance mountain biking, grand fondos, marathons, ultramarathons and one day adventure events are a few events among the endurance craze. The levels of training and obsession with body image has finally taken a step out of the gym and back outside into nature. Many weight grunting gym rats have jumped full throttle into Spartan races and other similar events. People are finally realizing the potential of muscular endurance and strength in a real situation other than looking at themselves in the mirror between sets. The rise has seen a dramatic increase in race participants, venues and varieties of events. The one underlying aspect of fitness that can and should deserve attention among all of these events in core.
With rise and growth of these events many people and businesses have begun to capitalize on this opportunity to address core strength amongst participants. The problem with all of the growth an options is that it has become a confusing mess of information and choices. The bottom line with core strength is that it needs to be simple and functional. Many companies offer the “best option” for functional core strength and some of these options can be rather expensive. Many core exercises are very simple and do not require equipment but can be very difficult. The most difficult part about developing core strength is developing motivation, habits and a routine. Core strength has no replacement in many of these events because as you get tired your form fails and injuries and failure can occur. With all of the available options out there I suggest finding something that works for you and stick with it. Some important consideration should be; time, cost, motivation, equipment and schedule. Many of these factors will relate directly to your schedule and the amount of time you can dedicate to core strength. After all core strength is merely a necessary evil of participating in these endurance events. I have a few guidelines in helping guide you towards developing a stronger core.
- If you lack motivation look for a good class that incorporates functional core strength.
- Be cautious of classes that use lots of equipment.
- Make core strength a habit! (2-3 times/week)
- Stick with your routine even as your races approach.
- Make it fun!
Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful in guiding your quest for a stronger more functional core. After all, the main issue is that we all want to look sexy naked. The routine that has worked well for me requires 10-20 minutes and can be done anywhere. I like to keep my routine flexible and I rely on self motivation or get whomever is around involved in core workouts. I break my core workout into 1 minute exercises with 10-15 seconds between each effort. The exercises should target a variety of core muscles and I always make sure to throw in a few back exercises. If you have a known weak muscle group you can also throw in a few exercises into your routine. I often times add in some glute strength exercises because I do not have a butt and it has caused issues for me in the past. These issues are not only limited to my inability to fill out a pair of jeans but has also caused knee and IT band pain. I have downloaded an app on my phone that has a timer that allows you to add the number, time, and rest for each exercise. The app makes it easy and it holds me accountable to the task at hand. There are many options of exercises and routines out there. Here is one from the New York Times and only requires 7 minutes and can be done nearly anywhere. If anyone happens to have a Compex muscle stimulatoryou can also supplement your functional core strength routine with an isolated strength program on your Compex. The most beneficial element for me was developing a quick routine that can be replicated and offer variety. I hope this helps everyone in their quest for core strength.