Tag Archives: bicycle maneuver

Strengthen your abs to run faster

Do you want to run faster? I know, stupid question, though there may be a few runners who don’t care about their running speed. Whether or not these people are even real “runners” or not is a question for another time.

Fortunately, science continues to reveal new ways to improve speed. Besides interval training, and strength-training the leg and hip muscles(don’t forget your hips!), strengthening your ab muscles may also help improve your running speed.

According to the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida, Florida:

Although strong core muscles are believed to help athletic performance, few scientific studies have been conducted to identify the effectiveness of core strength training (CST) on improving athletic performance. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of 6 weeks of CST on ground reaction forces (GRFs), stability of the lower extremity, and overall running performance in recreational and competitive runners. After a screening process, 28 healthy adults (age, 36.9 +/- 9.4 years; height, 168.4 +/- 9.6 cm; mass, 70.1 +/- 15.3 kg) volunteered and were divided randomly into 2 groups (n = 14 in each group). A test-retest design was used to assess the differences between CST (experimental) and no CST (control) on GRF measures, lower-extremity stability scores, and running performance. The GRF variables were determined by calculating peak impact, active vertical GRFs (vGRFs), and duration of the 2 horizontal GRFs (hGRFs), as measured while running across a force plate. Lower-extremity stability was assessed using the Star Excursion Balance Test. Running performance was determined by 5000-m run time measured on outdoor tracks. Six 2 (pre, post) x 2 (CST, control) mixed-design analyses of variance were used to determine the influence of CST on each dependent variable, p < 0.05. Twenty subjects completed the study (nexp = 12 and ncon = 8). A significant interaction occurred, with the CST group showing faster times in the 5000-m run after 6 weeks. However, CST did not significantly influence GRF variables and lower-leg stability. Core strength training may be an effective training method for improving performance in runners.

Emphasis mine.

So don’t forget to strength train your legs, hips, and ab muscles 2 to 3 times a week to improve your running speed. Strongers hips and abs will also help you deal with hills. The best ab exercise is the bicycle maneuver, which doesn’t require any equipment. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to work your abs, just as you don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat healthy if you live in an area with a lot of wild edible plants(see my previous post), or you buy grains and legumes in bulk. It also doesn’t require a lot of time either.

As a joggler, I find that joggling with very heavy balls for half a mile seems to help exercise the abs, and build stamina and muscle memory for juggling(and help with balance), but I do not recommend this to novice jogglers. You may hit someone with one or more of the balls, and that someone may be you!

Joggler’s Boot Camp – The best ab exercises

The 6 pack is the Holy Grail sought by countless exercisers. Very few ever achieve it. An entire cottage industry within the fitness industry is dedicated to it, spawning many scams and myths. The myth of spot reduction is one of the most pervasive of these myths. Very often, it seems trying to achieve a 6 pack is more of a vanity project than something done to improve athletic performance; once the core is strong enough(even if the 6 pack is not visible), any additional strength is superfluous or may even weigh you down if you’re a runner.

The truth of the matter is that the abs don’t need to be exercised all that much to improve core strength. In fact, the core is strengthened even when doing resistance exercises that do not target the abdominal muscles. That said, it can still be helpful to include some ab exercises in your fitness routine to build core strength, especially if you sit a lot or have poor posture. Don’t forget to exercise the hips too.

According to research sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, the best ab exercise is the bicycle maneuver. This exercise requires no special equipment and is relatively easy to do. Many other exercises on the best ab exercise list do require equipment, but they are not as beneficial as the bicycle maneuver. So if you want killer abs so people will worship you on the beach, there is no need to waste money on ab devices(some of which are scams).

The bicycle maneuver is a type of crunch or semi-crunch. Ordinarily, I do not advocate crunches or sit-ups since I believe they are bad for the back. However, this maneuver requires very little forward movement of the upper body, so it appears to be safe for the back.

As far as joggling is concerned, it definitely requires a little more core and upper body strength than regular running. It is possible that joggling may help build more core strength than regular running, especially if you joggle with heavy balls(hopefully far away from other people). Also, juggling or joggling with heavy balls may be better for losing weight than juggling with very light balls.

I am not saying joggling will give you killer 6 pack abs, only that it may be better than just running if you want to improve core strength and stability. And it’s more fun!