Let’s face it, we all know the core is important for pretty much everything we do. “A strong core is essential for blah blah blah.” We’ve heard it all before…for years. And yet it seems that I know more people that don’t do ANYTHING for their core strength! Marathon runners, triathletes, cyclists, swimmers – every single one of them would benefit from some form of core work.
And I’m one of those. I don’t do core, or stretch, or warm up. I’m really, really bad. But when I get into a full-on training program there is something about having a core work-out on Training Peaks that makes me do it. Is it the accountability? My love of data? I don’t know. But if it’s in Training Peaks, I will log it!
Problem is, “Core is a bore”™ so I’m always on the lookout for new things to challenge me. If I see something and think “What!?! That looks way too easy-hard-silly-stupid-dumb-dangerous!” I will more likely try said move the next time I’m at the gym.
And that’s where “Crowie’s Balls” come in. A shorter version of a core workout video by Crowie (Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander) went around the social networks a few weeks ago. He calls it “Crowie’s Balls.” Well, it just so happens that my desk chair is a yoga ball so I have no excuse not to try these. And of course, he makes them look soooo easy. I mean come on! THAT’S a core workout? That’s a piece of cake!
Yeah well um no. There is nothing easy about any of those moves and the lumber jacks on the ball nearly kill me after just 6 of them. I am suddenly covered in sweat and ready to pass out. Amazing.
I’m loving the challenge and enjoying the change. And as I ramp up my mileage to the 150 – 200 miles per week on the bike, a strong(er) core is essential. My body is fatigued and the core is going to be called upon much more than it would in a 1 day event. Neck, shoulders, back, chest, stomach…all of these areas will be taxed day after day after day by 85+ mile rides. So for all the rest of the Ride The Rockies riders out there – if you aren’t doing any core work, NOW is the time to start! Here is a quick and effective core workout that you can do to Love Thy Core!
1. Toothbrush lunges!
This is a great little exercise to do while brushing your teeth. If you use an electronic toothbrush it’s even better. For 30 seconds (each quadrant of your mouth as you brush) do the following: squats, right leg lunges, left leg lunges, squats. Do these every night. No excuses. Focus on perfect form and using your glutes!
2. Planks in bed!
No one can complain about planks hurting their arms again. Do them in bed! If you haven’t done any core work in a long time (ever) then start with :30 seconds as your target hold time for each move. Those of us that can ride a bike for 50 miles without a problem start with :60 seconds and if you are uber awesome, add leg lifts for a challenge! Start with front plank hold it for XX seconds, then :10 rest. Then right side plank, hold, rest, left side plank, hold, rest, back plank, hold rest. Repeat 3 times! DO IT! Keep a straight line from head to toe. No sagging and no “down dog” for this exercise. Breathe!
These little exercises above are the minimum for core love that you should do. Every night is great. Twice a day is even better! If these are too easy for you, you can increase difficulty by using light weights for the squats and doing 3 sets instead of just 1. For planks, add leg lifts while keeping your lines straight. And you can try Crowie’s Balls next time you have a yoga ball to work with!