As every runner knows, core strengthening is an important aspect of your training schedule, but many of us are guilty of skipping core workouts on a regular basis. You know who doesn’t skip core sessions? Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah. Yes, we know core hurts and it’s not nearly as fun as getting out on the roads, trails or track, but it will help you improve as a runner and all-around athlete. So drop what you’re doing, get on the floor and try Farah’s quick and easy core routine, which he says has helped him achieve his goals in the sport.
Russian twist — 20 reps
Start off with a classic — the Russian twist. Farah uses a medicine ball for this exercise, but you can use a dumbbell or anything else you have at your disposal. If you find it too difficult to perform this exercise with a ball or weight, you can also do it without holding anything. Start by sitting on the floor, lifting your feet off the ground and crossing your legs. Making sure to keep your legs as still as possible, twist from side to side, moving the medicine ball to either hip. Farah notes that it’s important to “lean in and squeeze your core” while performing this move, and it’s also key not to rush it (even though you might want to just get it over with).
Oblique crunches — 20 reps
Next up is oblique crunches, which will have you lying on your back. With one leg bent and your foot resting on the floor, bring your other leg up and rest it against your opposite knee. Then, with your hands behind your head, twist and lift upward toward the knee of your elevated leg, making sure that your shoulder blade comes off the floor and your elbow touches your knee. Once complete, repeat 20 reps on the opposite side.
Bent-leg crunches — 10 reps
On your back once again, bend both legs and lift them so they’re at a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs open and about hip-length apart, then perform a crunch, again making sure to get your shoulder blades off the ground.
Hand to foot stability pass — 10 reps
You’ll need a Swiss ball for this workout. Start flat on your back with the ball in your hands, then simultaneously lift your arms and legs and let them meet in the middle, above your torso. When they meet, place the ball between your feet and lower your limbs back to the floor before repeating the motion and trading the ball once again. Farah says to exhale as you crunch and inhale as you extend, also adding that you should focus on keeping your lower back flat to the floor.
Lower-abs pulse — 10 reps
This exercise also requires a Swiss ball, but if you don’t have one, you can place your legs on a chair. With one leg outstretched straight beneath you and resting on the ball, extend the other into the air above you. From there, lift your pelvis off the floor, pulsing up and dropping down repeatedly for 10 reps on each side.
Swiss ball opposite-arm and leg-lift — 5 reps
Resting your torso on the Swiss ball, place your feet and arms on the floor. Extend one arm out while also lifting the opposite leg, then repeat with the other pair. Be sure to keep your head in line with the rest of your body and also remember to engage your glutes when lifting your legs.
Lower-back extension — 5 reps
In the same position on the Swiss ball as the previous exercise, lift your upper body up, extending straight up, then to either side. Take care to do this slowly, otherwise you’ll gain too much momentum and lose control of the motion.