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Photo credit: Cor de Jonge

Cor’s Core: Top 7 exercises for your Abs and Obliques

19-Oct-15

Last updated: 22-Aug-18

By Alice Morrison

A strong core will add miles and minutes to your legs. It may not seem it but it’s great ultra runners training. The work you put in to strengthening your abdominals and obliques will pay you back in full. Strength in this part of your body will hold your posture up and take some of the strain off your legs. Your body will be tighter and more co-ordinated. Cor De Jonge, a former track star, takes us through the basics. This workout takes around 10 minutes and you should try to fit it in once or twice a week. Do it slowly and do it well. Feel every muscle tense and brace.

Tip: When you do exercises on your back, push your back gently into the floor and brace your core. If you keep your back flat, you will automatically switch on your abs. If you have a naturally arched posture, just try to flatten your back, rather than forcing it down to the floor.

Alternating knee over Hip
16 reps total

Lie on your back and brace your core. Hand and arms are neutral. Knees are bent at 90 degrees and knees are above hips. Bring your right leg down and tap with your heel. Keep that 90-degree angle in the knee. Bring your leg back till your knee is just above your hips. Switch legs.

 

Crunch with knee reach
16 reps total

Lie on your back and brace your core. Fingers at your temples with your arms bent. Chin a little bit tucked in. Crunch up, lifting your shoulders and upper body off the ground. When you get to your highest/bite point, reach your hands to your knees. Hold for a second. Bring your arms slowly back to your temples while staying at the bite point. Release and down.

 

Cross elbow to knee
16 reps total

Lie on your back and brace your core. Fingers at your temples with your arms bent. Chin a little bit tucked in. Curl up, bringing your elbow to the opposite knee. Make sure you bring your body up off the floor and twist. Release and down. Repeat to other side.

 

C-crunch + bicycle
16 reps total

Lie on your back and brace your core. Fingers at your temples with your arms bent. Chin a little bit tucked in. Crunch up to the bite point and lift your legs so your knees are above your hips at a 90-degree angle. Then turn your upper body, bringing right elbow to left knee and lengthen right leg. Release back to central position, repeat with other leg. If your back arches, raise your extended leg a little higher to make it easier.

 

V-up
16 reps in total

Knees over hips at 90-degrees. Hands clasped on chest. Core braced.  Reach your legs up and arms and body up towards your legs in a V. Don’t bring your legs up to a right angle, keep them pointing north east. Return to centre and repeat.

 

Plank
Start with 2 x 30 second per plank. Aim for 4 x 1 min per plank

With planks, elbows must be straight under the shoulders. Chest should be between the elbows. Look slightly ahead. This will prevent you rounding your back. Knees a little more than hip distance apart.

Beginners – keep your knees on the ground
Advanced – straight legs and knees off the ground

DO NOT MOVE! This is not sex, this is a plank. Keep those hips still. You can either go through the whole sequence or take a short break between planks.

Two extra options for advanced:

  1. Assume the plank position. Reach your hand out diagonally and tap. Bring it back. Switch hands. This makes your core work harder by throwing you slightly off balance. Push in hard with your toes to fix your position.
  2. Assume the plank position. Smoothly tap one knee on the floor. Bring back up. Switch legs.

Side plank
Start with 2x 30 second per plank. Aim for 4 x 1 min per plank

Lie on your side with your lower knee bent. Come up on your elbow. Elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Lift your body and extend your top arm to the ceiling. Hold. Keep your hips raised. They will want to kiss the floor, but don’t let them. Lower. Repeat to other side.

Two extra options for advanced:

  1. Lie on your side with both legs extended straight out. One foot in front of the other. Elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Lift your body and extend your top arm to the ceiling. Hold. Keep your hips raised. They will want to kiss the floor, but don’t let them. Lower. Repeat to other side.
  2. Lie on your side with both legs extended straight out. One foot in front of the other. Elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Lift your body and extend your top arm to the ceiling. Hold. Then pulse your hips up and down ten times. Keep your core raised.  Don’t pulse down, pulse UP. Lower and repeat on other side.

Fit this routine regularly into your training programme and you will soon look like a Men’s Health Cover (and that is just the girls...). Seriously, though, a strong core helps prevent injury and makes you lighter on your feet.

Happy Training!

 

Want more exercises? Try these.

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