Practically every Tough Mudder obstacle will require you to use your core. So we’re taking it back to basics and looking at the best five core exercises that will have you ready to take on any obstacle we throw at you (and will possibly leave you with some nice looking abs). So what are you waiting for? Add these core exercises to your workout and let’s get crunching.
The Top Five Exercises You Should be Doing to Build Your Core
It isn’t just for Tough Mudder obstacles. Strengthening your core will help with your running form and athletic performance, improve your posture and balance and reduce your chance of injury.
What is Your Core?
First, a quick biology lesson. Many of us hear the word ‘core’ and think ‘abs’ and while you wouldn’t be completely wrong, you definitely wouldn’t be right either. Your core does include your abdominal muscles but it also features your posterior muscles (your back), obliques, the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles.
1. The Plank
First up we are taking it back to a classic core workout that’s perfect for beginners – the plank. But don’t be fooled by the word beginner – the longer you go for, the more you will feel the burn. This is one of the most simple, yet effective body weight exercises.
- Start by lying face down on the floor, propped up on your forearms
- With your elbows shoulder width apart, lift your torso up and stay on the balls of your feet. Make sure your feet are grounded
- Keep your legs and hips in a straight line from head to heels
- Hold here for 30 seconds, increase in 15 second increments to really feel the burn.
2. The Reverse Crunch
The reverse crunch is a fantastic core exercise to strengthen your lower abs. Nail this move and you’ll be ready to take on v sits and leg raises in no time.
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, hands by your sides
- Bring your knees into your chest, enough to raise your hips off the floor.
- Lift your hips before bringing you knees back down to the floor
- Repeat this 10-15 times and do 3 sets
3. The V-Sit
This is an exercise that is sometimes known as the Pilates 100 and it will leave you knowing exactly where your abs are. It’s simple and requires no equipment but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
- Start by lying on your back and extend your legs out and off the floor. Lift your shoulders off the mat
- Have your arms off the floor and by your sides, palms facing up
- Engage your abs and keep your back connected to the mat
- Pump your arms up and down slightly in a fast, controlled motion. Focus on your breathing during this exercise, five short breaths in and five short breaths out
If you find that doing the arm movement is too difficult, just try holding in the V position and place your hands just behind you.
4. Leg Raises
It’s time to raise it up, so we can stand on mountains (like Everest). Leg raises are a rockin’ ab workout. This a great sculpting and strengthening exercise, working not only your stomach muscles but helping to increase flexibility in your hips (strong hip flexors will help you run run run).
- Lie flat on your mat with your hands by your side
- Raise your legs together toward the ceiling, clenching your thighs together.
- Lift them until you can’t go any further and then slowly lower them back to the ground – make sure this is a controlled motion
- If you feel that your back is hurting whilst performing this exercise, place your hands underneath your lower back to provide some additional support.
5. Mountain Climbers
There’s nothing better than cardio core burn workout, and that is what mountain climbers will do for you. This is a key exercise to add to any obstacle course training plan.
- Jump into your plank position but rather than being down on your forearms have your weight on your hands
- Activate your core and bring your left knee into your chest then return it to your plank position, switch legs and bring the other knee up.
- Continue to alternate legs and then start to pick up the pace so it eventually feels like you’re running
- ‘Run’ for one minute and you’ll start to work up a sweat
These are some great exercises to add to any core training plan whether it be at home or in the gym. Go and get cracking. If all these core exercises have made you feel core-ageous maybe its time to pull the trigger and lock in your next Tough Mudder event? Get your ticket today.