In conversations I’ve had with other runners, or in online forum discussions I’ve observed, the topic of resistance training is one that seems to draw a lot of different opinions. Some runners believe that running, on it’s own, is all that’s required to run well, while others insist that incorporating resistance workouts into the overall training mix is essential for optimal performance. I don’t know what works for everyone else, but I tend to aim for two resistance workouts a week, with a reasonable emphasis on core strength.
Last week I read an Athleta article, written by elite bicycle racer, Kelley Heye, about core strength and how to measure it. She shared the following core strength test, devised by the United Kingdom’s National Governing Body for Track and Field:
THE CORE MUSCLE STRENGTH AND STABILITY TEST
The objective of this evaluation is to monitor the development and improvements of core strength.
To prepare for the assessment you will need a:
- Flat surface
- Watch or clock with second counter
Conducting the Test:
- Place the watch or clock where you can easily see it.
- Start in the forearm plank position – if planks are new to you (elbows on the ground, shoulders over elbows, back flat like a plank, abs contracted), or in full plank position – if you feel capable. Hold for 60 seconds.
- Lift your right arm off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds.
- Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds.
- Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground . Hold for 15 seconds.
- Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground . Hold for 15 seconds.
- Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground . Hold for 15 seconds.
- Return your left leg and right arm to the ground. Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground . Hold for 15 seconds
- Return to the forearm plank position (elbows on the ground). Hold this position for 30 seconds.
This test was NOT EASY! I did pass, but not with the most graceful form, as you can see above – (the pictures however, have shown me how I can try to improve!)
Good Core Strength – If you can complete the test fully, you have good core strength.
Poor Core Strength – If you cannot complete the test fully, your core strength needs improvement. If you are unable to complete the test, practice the routine three or four times each week until you improve. By comparing your results over time, you will note improvements or declines in core strength.
For more information on why core strength is so beneficial for runners, read this article! It’s extremely informative, and provides a great 15 minute core workout.